I think we can all agree on one thing…
The better you can shoot a basketball, the better the basketball player you will be.
But, if you’re a beginner or a player looking to improve their game, you’re probably wondering:
“How can I shoot better and more consistently?”
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The answer to that, of course, is to A) learn how to properly shoot a basketball and B) practice.
In this guide, I’m going to go over how to shoot a basketball correctly.
And, once you have a grasp on the proper basketball shooting form, you can move on to these basketball shooting drills and implement these basketball shooting tips to help you develop a better basketball shot.
3) Take More Form Shots than Everyone You Know
And you’ll shoot better than them. Why? Because most players, from the first time they pick up a ball, start outside-in. Not inside-out. They go straight to taking shots they see on TV. Form shooting never airs on TV, so most people either don’t know it exists, they ignore its value, or they think it’s won’t improve their outside game.
Smart players know better. They know the key to a better outside game is to get the shooting mechanics right, and then to expand out, simply adding more power from legs and arms. They start slow, and then increase pace to game speed.
The world’s best shooters, like Ray Allen, Steph Curry, Kyle Korver, and Dave Hopla (the most accurate shooter in the world) all swear by it. Use every warmup or practice to put up 25, 50, 100 form shots.
4) Balance: Stop Taking Off-Balance Shots, Improve your Shooting Accuracy
It’s simple: most shots miss because they’re taken without rhythm and without proper balance. Balance is all about geometry between your body, the ball, and the basket. Good balance helps prevent your shots from flying too far left or right, or fall too short or too long.
Squaring feet with rim naturally squares your elbows and shoulders (aka shoulder-width).
Body weight on balls of your feet, heels off the ground.
Bend knees and hips straight down.
Relax shoulders, lean head centered and forward, as far out as your knees.
Notice the width in Dirk’s feet right before he dips low with his knees. His feet aren’t flat – his heels are up, and will go slightly higher as his knees come down.
More on Form Shooting and BEEF Concept
11) Raise Shooting Elbow Up to Between Your Nose and Eye Level
By bringing it up high every time, you give yourself the best chance of not falling short on your shots. A good shooter doesn’t push his shots, he or she lifts them.
15) Study Dwyane Wade’s Pump Fakes
DWade has one of the best pump/shot fakes in the league. Use your eyebrows and eyes to fake defenders into jumping at you. Good shooters learn how to create driving opportunities or draw fouls.
19) Fire with Only Your Shooting Hand
When it comes to your release, 2 hands are not better than one. In archery and hunting, gun triggers aren’t pulled with 2 hands: one hand shoots, the other guides. Shooting the ball with 2 hands complicates things. Train the shooting hand for power, the guide hand for precision.
20) Fire the Shot with Index & Middle Finger
Tim Grover, Michael Jordan’s trainer, believes you shouldn’t use all 5 shooting fingers equally, but instead just the thumb, and mainly the index and middle fingers. Limiting your shot release to just 3 fingers gives you better control over the flight of the ball.
Grover felt so strongly that he developed the Splytter Shooting Aid just so that players can better train their index and middle shooting fingers to stay wide and strong during the shot.
Many shooting trainers and coaches today teach players that the index finger should be the last to touch the ball before it flies.
1) Pick up a Growth Mindset.
Start with the belief that you’re a constant work-in-progress, as is your jump shot. If you believe you’re a bad shooter, you’re right. If you believe you can become a good shooter, you might. If you believe you can become a great shooter, you might.
The problem with this fixed mindset is that you’ll eventually be right, you’ll achieve your small goals, and then stop growing, stop learning, and stop competing.
If ball is life, then don’t worry about peaking: keep telling yourself you have years and years to learn and grow.
You’ll shatter not other people’s, but your own expectations of how great of a shooter and player you can be, and it’ll be that much more rewarding and meaningful.
3) Ask Hard Questions
Why do you play ball?
When you hear people say ball is life, why do you get giddy inside?
Who are you really competing and playing for?
The truth is that the general population of ball players falls into two groups: players with a fixed mindset who hoop just because, and players with a growth mindset who hoop for deeper, personal, more purposeful reasons.
One group makes up ~99% of the population; the other only 1%. And it’s not because of born talent. It’s a choice you can make as a kid, as a young adult, or as a grown man/woman. The choice begins with the right questions.
4) What Level are You On?
When you face rough patches, shooting slumps and sleepless nights – as players of all ages naturally do – it helps to remember you have long ways to go from where you’re at:
- Grade school students: Do you play on your school’s team? Do you compete in youth basketball leagues at local park districts? Is your goal to play for your high school team? Or do you simply play for fun during recess or after-school with your friends and strangers?
- High school students: Do you casually play because it’s fun to hoop with friends, or because you’re on the HS basketball team? Is playing college ball your goal?
- College students: Ditto; do you play at your school’s rec center? In intramural leagues and tournaments? Or do you play on your college team with the goal of playing pro ball?
- Working professionals: What brings and keeps you coming back to your local gym or playing in local tournaments/leagues? Do you still play regularly or are you too busy with work, family and other priorities?
Set your own goals, and go one day at a time. It’s okay if you don’t make it to college, the NBA or the WNBA. Better to keep trying and working than to give up, and let time pass you by.
Shooting Guide Objectives
To increase your basketball IQ, get into productive habits, and harden a Growth Mindset to shoot better, perform better (at sports, school or at work – it’s up to you) and live with a greater sense of purpose.
Shooting IQ: The wisdom to learn the difference between knowing when not to shoot, and when to let it fly.
- To help players learn the basic, intermediate and advanced skills of shooting
- To improve our knowledge about the game of basketball
- To appreciate and work on the small, boring details that lead to big, exciting changes
- To uncover myths about popular shooting advice such as “the Perfect Form”
- To offer you the workouts, drills and step-by-step instructions that make shooting sessions productive and fun
- To understand the technical aspects differentiate the variety of shots you can take in a game
Productive Habits: The wisdom to learn what habits are worth keeping, worth discarding, and worth adopting during games, after games, and away from the game.
- To develop an automatic jump shot you can fire without hesitation and continually refine the rest of your life
- To make more time for basketball in your hectic schedules
- To offer you practical ways to measure and track your progress
- To learn how to catch fire and get in the “zone” regularly
- To help you build your shooting toolkit: do more with less commitment by incorporating training aides and accessories
- To study basketball – in-person and on-screen – with a keener eye on shooting and scoring
To compare and contrast Growth vs Fixed Mindset
To stop you from retiring from playing in your 20s and 30s as responsibilities go up
To help you understand the difference in habits between good and great shooters
To understand how a growing mind pushes ego out of your head, and why that helps you shoot better
How a Growth Mindset for Shooting Accuracy impacts other basketball skills
To point you to the source: the most knowledgable basketball people and resources on the web
To offer Non-basketball activities that fuel the Growth Mindset, which indirectly improve attitude and performance in sports
Questions to ask
Tips, hacks and shortcuts only have short-term value and I include those here as well, but the core ethos of this guide is based on continual long-term improvement mindset, it’s based on comparing yourself only to the work you put in yesterday, and is based on seeing value spill over to areas of your life you might not have previously considered. Finally, it’s based on an appreciation of great marksmen from the past, those in the present and those putting in work for the future, each of whom collectively offer us an endless amount of wisdom, if we choose to dig deeper.
While we may never replicate or reach their professional sharp shooting achievements, we’re not that different from them.
- So what are these differences and similarities between maturing basketball players and advanced professional athletes?
- What can we learn from them and apply in our own game, realistically?
- What can we learn about how they learn?
- How can we think like a pro and what impact does this have on our minds?
- How can we continue improving without putting in the effort that the dedicated players do, if the game of basketball is purely just a hobby?
- How can we use the web to improve our learning, increase our self-reliance and help others develop their game too?
Like a Pro: Characteristics of assassin shooters and scorers
Not all shooters are scorers and not all scorers are shooters but the one thing they both share an incredible ability to put the ball in the basket. Michael Jordan was an average shooter early on, but he realized how important it was to have an accurate stroke so he devoted thousands of hours to improvement. And well, you know the rest of that story.
Steph Curry, Ray Allen, Dirk Nowitzki, Reggie Miller, Steve Kerr. They all play different positions and play different roles but their shooting ability is world-class. It’s a specialty. Each specialist carries a common set of character traits rooted in excellence.
Sharp shooters pursue excellence. They shoot harder and smarter than everybody else. They don’t settle for good, they chase greatness with work ethic. It doesn’t matter what level you play at or how better others are than you, the point is you need to simply focus on being better than yourself. Keep raising your own bar so you don’t settle for being just an average shooter.
Sharp shooters shoot with the same form. Over decades, millions (yes, millions. Do the math.) of shot attempts sharpen their muscle memory with each repetition. As you seek to improve, don’t just track makes/misses. Observe your mechanics start to finish and be mindful of your state of mind. Did you follow through? Did you give enough arc? Did you remember to focus on the center of the rim/hoop as you release your shot? Did you adjust your strength and trajectory for body position and momentum? What were you thinking about as you shot? Were you scared? Did you get distracted? What could you do better on the next attempt?
Gradual improvements lie in these details, which most players are not willing to focus on, perpetually.
Sharp shooters understand their sweet spots and they practice patience. The ability to shoot out lights doesn’t carry them away into jacking up 30 shots per game. (And yes, Steph Curry – the inevitable Ray Allen record-breaker – is a worthy exception). Coaches and teammates give them the green light to shoot at will, but the sharp shooter understands dumb shots from smart shots. He lulls defenders to sleep, picks his spots, gets the rock and launches without hesitation.
Sharp shooters are gym whores. They get in the gym earlier and leave later than most players because shooting is a numbers game. What separates extraordinary shooters from the ordinary is the number of shots they put up. Throughout their life, this number can add up to over a million shots. Record-breaking shooters, with their robust work ethic, shoot more because they know how to increase their overall capacity of attempts.
The younger you start, the higher your capacity. The longer the hours in the gym, the higher the capacity.
Most players frankly just don’t think it’s worth their time to chase shot perfection. This is your advantage. Be unlike most players.
Sharp shooters are students of the game. They’re always learning and thinking of old and new ways to shoot more creatively and efficiently. Kobe and Lebron go to Hakeem after winning titles in the offseason. DRose locked himself in a Cali gym during the summer of Lebron and won MVP. After losing in the 2006 Finals, Dirk renewed his focus on scoring and capitalized on a second opportunity. The new Dirk shot 49% FG, 46% from 3 point FGs and 94% from the FT line.
Sharp shooters and clutch scorers are never out of the game. The best shooters will and do have *off *nights on which they struggle. Badly. Still, somehow they’re able to make shots in the clutch time after time again because they ‘forget’ all the misses. The next opportunity they get, they take it with confidence and redeem themselves.
Sharp shooters become naturals in performing when it matters most. Elite shooters and scorers rely heavily on their preparation in crunch time.
Sharp shooters shoot the ball, fundamentally. Even if their shot technique and form looks different from that of other fundamental shooters. Even with they take the shots of great difficulty. Mediocre players get too fancy and too cute with their shots. They’re the ones who get overly happy when they make and dramatically frustrated when they miss. Don’t be that guy or girl.
If you want to be a sharp shooter, find inspiration from the elite and go to work. By inspiration, I mean learn from their on-court and off-the-court habits, their demeanor and from their strengths and weaknesses. Study them deeper than your opponent does and go to work. Test everything. Challenge their ideas and find better answers.
By now, you understand the importance of habits and thoughts. Let’s go over how you can become a better shooter by developing effective habits and destroying the silent bad ones.