There is perhaps no better way to become a better basketball player than to become a better shooter. Good shooters pose multiple problems for the opposing defense and incredible shooters can completely take over games.
In this guide, we’ll go over 19 basketball shooting tips that, if implemented, will help you become a better shooter.
These shooting tips range from advice on improving your shooting mechanics, to some things you can do to ensure that your shooting sessions are more efficient, to mental aspects like visualization and building confidence in your ability.
So, if you’re looking to learn how to become a better shooter in basketball, keep reading.
1. Practice = Consistency
This one goes without question, but I figured I’d add it here anyways… If you want to become a better shooter in basketball, the best way to do that is to practice more.
The more shots you take, the better the shooter you will become. It’s just like in any other sport, where the more repetitions you are willing to put in in practice, the better you will perform come game time.
Yes, you do need to know how to shoot a basketball correctly, but after that, it’s just a matter of the more you shoot, the better shooter you will be. In fact, if you have solid shooting fundamentals already and you want to improve your shot, you can ignore the rest of this post and only take this tip (practice more) and you will become a better shooter.
However, while practicing your shot more will definitely make you a better shooter, the way in which you practice can make you better quicker. And, there are quite a few basketball shooting tips below that will help you get more out of your shooting sessions.
Ultimately, though, if you’re wondering how to shoot better in basketball, the age old adage of practice makes perfect applies.
2. Work With A Partner
Nobody shoots the basketball the same way. So, while you need to have good form when shooting in order to be a good shooter, you don’t have to have perfect form. In fact, there might not be such a thing as having perfect shooting mechanics.
However, what you do need to have in order to be a great shooter is an easy, repeatable, and consistent shooting form. And those all come through practice. The more you practice shooting, the more consistent your form will be, and the more accurate your shot will be.
One of the problems that players run into, though, is that they are losing out on a ton of shots during their shooting practices because they have to chase the ball. Or, in chasing the ball after each shot, they are leaving too much time in between their shots, which isn’t ideal for building consistency. (Ideally, you want to be able to shoot, shoot, shoot, rather than shoot, chase, get setup, shoot, chase, get setup, etc.)
If you work with a partner, you will likely be able to get off 2-3x as many shots in the same amount of time as you would if you had to chase your shots.
You can either get a partner who is simply there to return the ball to you (a parent, or coach), or you can get a partner who is also looking to improve their shot and you can switch off.
Obviously, working with a partner who is there only to get the ball back to you will allow you to get the most amount of shots off in a given time period (because if you switch, there will be a certain amount of time in which you aren’t shooting at all—although, you could work on rebounding during that period.)
But at the same time, switching back and forth with a partner can bring competition into your training and that alone can push you to greater success.
3. Use A Return Device
If you can’t always get someone to join you during a shooting session, at least use a return device to help minimize the amount of time you spend on chasing the ball. The SKLZ Kick-Out 360 Degree Ball Return System on Amazon is a great option as it will return made shots wherever you are on the court (you have to adjust it, though).
Obviously, a return device isn’t going to help you if you miss (unless you get a large net to bring the ball back to you—I recommend the SKLZ Rapid Fire II ball return net), but it will at least cut back on the time you spend chasing, which will allow you to get more shots off in the same amount of time.
Ultimately, the more shots you take, the better the shooter you will become. So, maximizing that number of shots you take in a practice session is always going to benefit you in the long run.
4. Lock onto the Rim as Early as Possible
The earlier on in your shot that you lock your eyes onto the rim, the better your chances will be to make the shot. Generally speaking, you should pick one spot on the rim to focus on during your shot:
- The front of the rim.
- The back of the rim.
- The entire rim.
When practicing shooting, pick one part of the rim to focus on, and commit to only focusing on that part of the rim when you shoot. Or, in other words, if you practice locking onto the front of the rim, every time you shoot, focus on the front of the rim. Don’t switch back and forth between focusing on the back of the rim to focusing on the front of the rim.
You want to develop consistency with your shot, so pick one location of the rim to focus on, and in game situations, lock onto that location as quickly as possible when you shoot.
5. Practice Game Shots
While any good shooter can knock down open shots in games at a high rate, amazing shooters can knock down more difficult shots on a regular basis. Practicing stationary shooting will definitely make you a better shooter, but practicing shooting after coming off of screens, or shooting while on the move, or shooting off of a pick and roll, will open up more shooting opportunities for you.
That’s why it is critical to add movement-based shooting drills into your practice sessions. By practicing game shots, you will be better prepared to take shots you would have normally passed up on.
6. Practice Shooting Faster
The one aspect of Steph Curry’s shot that wouldn’t be considered ideal if he weren’t perhaps the greatest shooter ever, would be that sometimes his release point is a bit lower than average.
However, the one thing that Steph does that eliminates any negative that might come from having a lower release is that he has a ridiculously fast release.
The reason why shooting the ball faster gives you such a huge advantage is that it not only makes it more difficult for your opponent to block, but it also gives you a lot more “good” looks at the hoop.
And, what I mean by that is that, normally, a good defense can take away shots from their opponents by closing out on them quickly. However, if you can get a shot off incredibly quick, it lessens the chance that the defender will get to you in time, which, ultimately, will open up more shots for you.
The problem with shooting faster is, of course, that you won’t be as accurate if you aren’t used to shooting so quickly. So, it’s a good idea to implement some quick catch-and-release shooting drills into your training.
7. Shoot Relaxed
Shooting, obviously, is not a power move. It is a finesse move. Shooting should be a smooth process. One of the ways to help develop a smooth and fluid shot is to be as relaxed as possible when practicing your shot and when going through basketball shooting drills.
The best shooters in the world make shooting a basketball look easy and that’s because they are relaxed when they shoot. So, if you want to learn how to improve your jump shot, be sure to practice “shooting relaxed.”
8. Don’t Try to Correct Shooting Mechanics in Game
One of the biggest mistakes that young basketball players make is that, in games, they get in their heads after a couple of missed shots. And, rather than focusing on playing, they start focusing on their shooting mechanics and what they are doing wrong, which can either lead to more missed shots, or even to an unwillingness to take future shots.
The best players in the game miss almost half of their shots. So, if you miss a couple of shots in a game, let it go. Work on your mechanics in practice.
9. Hold your Follow Through
Following through on your shot is crucial to becoming a great shooter. Flicking your wrist and following through helps give the ball the direction and backward rotation it needs to go in the basket.
Drilling into an athlete that they need to hold their follow through can be a challenging task. On the surface, holding your follow through after the shot has left your hands doesn’t feel like something that would help your shot. Afterall, the shot has already left your hands, why do you need to keep holding your follow through?
However, following through ensures that your body goes through the full range of motion of the shot. And, there is evidence that suggests that shooters who hold their follow through typically have more sound mechanics and are more consistent shooters.
10. Finish With a Relaxed Wrist
I think one of the biggest problems in explaining the follow through to a younger athlete is that often coaches use the phrase “snap your wrist.” To me, “snap” sounds like a harsh movement. Perhaps “flick” is the better word to use.
In any case, after you “flick” or “snap” your wrist, you want your wrist to be relaxed. Often times, players keep their wrist tight and tense as they hold their follow through. This is a sign that the player might not be straightening their shooting arm during their shot and they may be generating too much of the shot’s power with their wrist, rather than using the fluidity of their shooting motion.
Ultimately, you want to finish with a relaxed wrist. And, part of that is relying more on the power that the shooting motion produces (and the straightening of your arm before the shot), rather than trying to generate power from the actual flick of the wrist.
11. Get Arc Under the Ball
While there have been players who have succeeded with a flatter shot, the reality is that the flatter your shot is, the less the margin of error you have to make your shot. By shooting the ball with the proper arc, it will approach the rim at a slower speed, and that will give it less variation in where it goes if it hits the rim. Essentially, this means that, with the proper arc, you are more likely to get a “shooter’s roll.”
Of course, too much arc comes with its own problems as well. And, the ideal arc for each player will be different as the taller you are the higher you release the ball, the less arc you will need. Generally speaking, though, players should aim to shoot the ball at an angle of between 47 and 53 degrees, with taller players shooting at an angle closer to 47 and shorter players aiming to shoot at an angle closer to 53 degrees.
12. Study the Best
If you want to take your shooting to the next level, you have to study the best. By watching and studying the best shooters in the game, you’ll get a good idea of what a solid shooter looks like.Not to mention, because shooting can be very mental, the act of watching good shooters hit shots will keep you positive and help you build confidence.
Not to mention, because shooting can be very mental, the act of watching good shooters hit shots over and over will keep you positive and help you build confidence.
13. Study Film of Your Shot
A good way to get feedback on your shot if you don’t have access to a coach who will do it for you is to film yourself shooting and then study the film of your shot.
Even if you do have a coach giving you feedback on your shooting mechanics, seeing yourself shoot can help you pick out parts of your mechanics that you need to correct or work on.
14. Use A Rim Reducer
While most “tools” and “gadgets” that are marketed to help you learn how to shoot better are typically not worth the money, one item you might want to look into is a rim reducer. Essentially, what a rim reducer does is make the rim smaller, which forces you to be even more accurate and get a better arc on your shots.
A rim reducer would be a good addition to a shooting regimen, but you probably shouldn’t practice with one all the time. The reason is that since shooting on a rim reducer is more difficult, you will make fewer shots, and that could hurt your confidence. And, confidence plays a huge role in your ability to shoot the ball well consistently.
If you do want to add a rim reducer to your shooting practices, you can check out SKLZ 2-in-1 Basketball Trainer.
15. Build Confidence with Easy Shots
The more confident you are, the better shooter you will be. One way to help you build confidence before a game or a shooting session is to warm up with 40-60 shots from 5-10 feet away from the hoop. By making a ton of easy shots before the game or before a shooting session, you will get used to seeing the ball go into the net, which, in turn, will give you more confidence.
This one might sound weird and the logistics of getting in 40-60 easy shots during warm ups before a game might be difficult to pull off, but the next time you go out to practice shooting, start off with 40-60 easy shots and then track and see how the rest of your session goes. My guess is that you’ll make more shots than you normally do.
16. Improve Your Jump Height
There are a couple of reasons why increasing your jump height will help you become a better basketball shooter.
First, the higher you can jump, the higher you will be able to release the ball in your shot, and the less arc you will need to put on the ball.
And, secondly, the higher you can jump, the more difficult your shot will be able to be blocked.
There are a bunch of jump training programs out there that can help you add as much as 10″ or more to your vertical. I recommend Vert Shock as it is one of the most well-organized jump training programs out there and it was created by a former college basketball player and a professional dunker.
Or, you can take a look at our guide on how to jump higher for some specific jump training exercises you can incorporate into your regimen.
17. Maintain A Good Stance & Balance
Having good balance when shooting is critical if you want to become a great shooter. And, good balance comes from having a good stance.
Maintaining good balance through a good stance will allow you to develop consistent and accurate shooting mechanics, which, in turn, will make you a more accurate shooter.
A good stance consists of:
- Positioning your feet shoulder-width apart
- Slightly staggering your stance so your dominant foot is ahead of your other foot
- Slight bend at your knees
- Keeping your torso pointed toward (or slightly away from) the hoop during your shot
- Keeping your head pointed toward the hoop during your shot
- Maintaining comfort throughout the shot
So, make sure you work on your stance so that you can shoot with balance.
18. Keep the Correct Hand Position on the Ball
While many shooting mechanics can vary slightly among today’s top shooters, one aspect of shooting mechanics that is fairly consistent among the game’s best is the way they hold the ball.
The way you place your hands on and grip the ball will determine how the ball flies out of your hands. With the correct hand position and grip on the basketball, you will be able to better ensure that your shot goes where you want it to.
Correct hand position and grip on the ball consist of:
- Placing your dominant hand on top of the ball (fingers spread comfortably for balance)
- Placing your off-hand on the side of the ball
- Maintaining a loose grip on the ball (the ball should sit on your finger pads)
Ultimately, if you want to become a great shooter, you need to make sure that you are following one of the most important basketball shooting tips: holding the ball correctly.
19. Use Visualization Techniques to Improve Your Shot
An Australian psychologist took a bunch of basketball players and divided them into three different groups to test their free throw shooting accuracy. Each group had a different set of instructions on how they should train…
- Group 1 was to practice shooting free throws for 20 minutes each day.
- Group 2 was to not practice shoot free throws at all, but rather to spend time each day visualizing themselves making every free throw they took in their imagination.
- Group 3 was to not practice shooting free throws, nor visualize shooting free throws.
Guess which group improved the most?
Well, if you guess group 1, you are correct… Group 1 improved 24% over what they did before the test.
However, Group 2, who only visualized making free throws and didn’t actually shoot any free throws, improved by 23%!
That means it was almost as efficient to just visualize making free throws as it was to actually practice shooting free throws. Imagine what you could do if you combined a ton of practice with these types of visualization techniques!
If you want to learn more about visualization and how it can help you become a better basketball shooter (or better at anything, really) check out these books:
- Pyscho Cybernetics – Maxwell Maltz
- 10-Minute Toughness – Jason Selk
- The Art of Mental Training – DC Gonzalez
How to Become A Better Basketball Shooter
The simplest way to get better at shooting a basketball is to simply practice more. Of course, you need to ensure that your shooting mechanics are sound, but after that it’s all just a matter of the more shots you take, the better the shooter you will be.
However, if you’re looking to get the most out of your training, these basketball shooting tips will help you learn how to shoot a basketball better.