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?”
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.
How to Shoot A Basketball Correctly
Let me explain something…
We’ve all seen great basketball shooters who have succeeded in the NBA despite having an unorthodox shooting form.
Guys like Larry Bird, Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion, and Kevin Martin (to name a few) didn’t have what some would call the perfect shooting form.
However, they were still very good shooters (and in Bird and Nowitzki’s case, some of the best ever).
The thing is, though, that while some basketball players have had good success despite shots ranging from slightly unorthodox, to completely unorthodox, their shot mechanics were (or are) extremely consistent.
And, while their shots may have looked weird, in truth, they still were fundamentally sound when shooting a basketball.
With that being said, let’s take a look at what makes good basketball shooting form and technique:
1. Eyes on the Target
Here’s a good piece of advice:
You cannot hit what you do not see.
One of the most important aspects of good shooting fundamentals is that you lock onto your target:
The earlier in your shot that you locate the rim the better.
*Of course, this applies mainly to a stationary jump shot. With turn-around jump shots and shots on the move, there will obviously be other factors at play that will prevent you from locking onto the rim as early as possible. But, those are more advanced shots for players who have thousands of hours of practice and have an incredible awareness of where the basket is.
Here are a few tips that you can implement during your shooting drills to help you consistently lock on to the rim…
- During your shot, always keep your eyes on the rim
- Pick either the front of the rim, the back of the rim, or the entire rim as your target
- Do not follow the flight of the ball after you have shot it, keep looking at the rim
In the second tip above, it’s a good idea to choose one of those ways to target the rim. You can either lock-in to the front of the rim (with the goal of getting the ball just up and over the front of the rim), the back of the rim (with the goal of getting the ball just in front of the back of the rim), or the entire rim (with the goal of getting it right in the center of the rim.)
It doesn’t matter which part of the rim you lock onto, but it is a good idea to pick one and stick with that target on each shot.
2. A Good Stance
A good stance is important in proper shooting form as it will give you balance in your shot.
With a narrow or overly-staggered stance, you won’t be as balanced and, thus, will have a hard time developing a consistently accurate shot.
But, what does a good basketball shooting stance look like?
What follows is a list of factors that make up a good shooting stance:
- 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
Comfort is one of the most important parts of not only having a good shooting stance but in having a consistent shot in general as well. So, it’s important that your shot is comfortable. If it’s not, make slight alterations to your stance until it feels right.
The other important part of shooting accurately is to develop a consistency in your technique. So, once you have found a comfortable stance and good form, you need to practice shooting from that stance every time to develop consistency.
3. Correct Ball Position, Hand Position, & Grip
The position you hold the basketball in prior to starting your shot, as well as how you grip the ball, are also critical components of developing good basketball shooting form.
In fact, if there is one aspect of shooting a basketball correctly that is consistent among all great shooters, it’s in the way they hold and grip the basketball.
What follows is a basic rundown of the correct ball position, hand position on the ball, and grip you should have before shooting a basketball:
- 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)
- Positioning the ball above your waist
- Lining your feet, torso, head, and the ball up in a straight line towards the basket (torso can be slightly off)
When you practice shooting, you should aim to get your body and the ball in the same position before every shot. And, you should also aim to grip the ball the same before each shot.
Again, if you want to be a consistently accurate shooter, you need to develop a consistent shooting form that is comfortable for you. This means working to make each aspect of your jump shot consistent every time you shoot.
4. Start Your Shot, Release the Ball, and Follow Through
Once you have a good stance, the ball in the right position, and the proper grip on the basketball, it’s time to start your jump and shoot the basketball.
From your stance, you will…
- Jump up (and slightly forward)
- While jumping, bring the ball up in a straight line in one motion
- Right before the top of your jump, release the ball by snapping your wrist and letting the ball roll off your fingers
- Hold your follow through as you land
Here are some important things to consider during the shooting process:
- As you move the ball upwards during your shot, your elbow should come up directly under the basketball (and not to the side).
- Your elbow and forearm should make an L-shape.
- Ideally, the ball should stay in front of you. Bringing the ball behind your head will result in a slower shot.
- Your shooting hand should dictate the flight of the ball and should start and finish aiming at the rim.
- Your off-hand is merely a guide and should not direct the flight of the ball.
- Your off-hand should also be the first hand to come off the ball.
- You want to release the ball near the top of your shot. The lower you release it, the easier it will be for a defender to block.
- When practicing a stationary jump shot, you should be landing in the same position on the floor that you started in.
- You should aim to have a decent amount of arc on your shot. A flat shot has a more difficult path to going into the hoop.
It’s important to remember that not everyone is going to have the same shot. You need to find the shot you are comfortable with without sacrificing shot speed and a low release point (which makes you more susceptible to being blocked.)
Of course, these are all just guidelines. For instance, Steph Curry has a lower-than-normal shot release but is obviously one of the best (if not the greatest) shooters of all time.
This all goes back to the fact that finding a comfortable shot is equally as important as having sound shooting fundamentals. A good shot does not have to follow the guidelines laid out precisely.
Ultimately, what this means is that the process for shooting outlined above does not have to be exact. It just has to closely resemble the process laid out above. What does have to be exact, though, is your commitment to a shot that is comfortable to you.
Finding Your Shot
As I mentioned above, no two athletes are going to display the same basketball shooting techniques. And, because there are many examples of great shooters who have succeeded at the highest levels of basketball, it is clear that there is no absolute best way to shoot a basketball.
So, if you’re wondering how to shoot a basketball correctly, the answer would be…
That depends on you.
Of course, you should follow the guide above to incorporate the fundamentals of shooting a basketball into your shot.
And, once you have found a good shot that is fundamentally sound and is comfortable to you, you need to practice it over and over again so that it gets ingrained in your muscle memory.
Ultimately, good shooters spend hundreds of hours practicing their shot, while great shooters spend thousands of hours practicing their shot.