The good shooter is a picture of grace as he releases the ball with seemingly effortless motion. However, this “seemingly effortless motion” comes at a high price. Some studies have proven it takes approximately 200,000 correct repetitions to learn a basketball skill to mastery. So how much is that? About 10 years! Thus, it is extremely important to practice the proper mechanics from the beginning.
Coach Rick Majerus emphasized good shooters always “get their homework done early”. In other words it is imperative to have great footwork. They own their feet! Your feet should be planted slightly less than shoulder-width apart (more like hip-width) and position your shooting foot slightly ahead of your non-shooting foot. Good shooters shoot like they're jumping rope. With that said, turn both feet in to 10 o'clock if you're right handed and 2 o'clock for lefties. This allows for your shooting shoulder to be aligned with the basket (similar to throwing a dart). A jump stop, or two-foot plant, is recommended for a direct approach to the basket. The two-count (1-2) stop is appropriate for any approach at an angle.
Legs & Knees
A bend of 45-degrees is recommended for the thighs and lower legs. This “down-up” energy is the major force necessary to start your jump shot. It is important to develop a consistent jump. Toes through the floor as in jumping rope. Becoming a quick shooter begins with the speed of the toes hitting the floor and bouncing back up. The ball should be released before the top of your jump and your feet should sweep forward at least six inches when landing. The quicker the release the better, but this requires thousands and thousands of mechanically sound reps. On average, highly skilled shooters get the ball out of their hands in .54 seconds. That's fast!
Head & Eyes
Your chin should be slightly higher than parallel to the floor and both eyes should see the basket. With this in mind, a good shooter will focus on the back of the rim. Do not watch the ball in flight!
The fingers of your shooting hand should be spread comfortably with the ball resting on the pads of the fingers (should not be in contact with the “heel” of your hand). Be sure to center your index finger on the ball between your thumb and three other fingers.
Tuck Position & Shot Line
The ball will begin in the middle of your body. This is the "Tuck Position" (AKA the “Shooter’s Pocket”). When shooting off a pass, a slight dip of the ball maybe needed to establish this position and the timing needed. Follow a vertical shot line up to the release point. Maintaining this proper shot line is very important. You do not ever want to miss to the left or to the right. Good shooters miss straight. Keep your shooting elbow in and under the ball; aligned with your shooting knee and foot.
Set Position & Perfect U-Shape Platform
Prior to the release of the ball: your wrist, forearm, and upper arm should all appear in the shape of a sideways "U". This perfect platform appears almost parallel to the ground as the wrist is cocked (wrinkle the wrist), and the elbow leads the shot up through the face (vertical) while it stays in line with the shooting foot. The forearm and elbow provide the second force of the shot. The wrist is the third and final force. All three forces combine for one fluid motion, also known as “up-force”. The ideal launch angle is 50-55 degrees. Also, it is vital to release the ball on the way up just before the peak of your jump. Certainly not on the way down. Put your finger above and through the rim. Another rule of thumb to determine whether or not you have proper arc is the top of shot should be as high as the top of the board (top of the shot = top of the board).
After thrusting your fingers forward and through the ball, concentrate on your index finger going straight down. If done correctly, your index finger should come together with your thumb. We call this the “Kobe pinch”. Backspin will be produced on the ball (ideally about two revolutions per second). Be sure to always follow-through with complete elbow extension. (Hold this for two seconds or until the ball hits the rim. Proper arc on the ball can be insured if your elbow finishes just above eye level. The ideal release angle is 48 degrees, but some of the greatest have been known to release as high as 55 degrees.
One of the primary reasons for poor shooting is the incorrect usage of the off-hand. Think of the guide hand's purpose that as a tee is to golf. Merely for balance! The ball is positioned on the pads of the fingers; which are all pointed upward. As extension from the shooting hand (perfect platform) begins, the off-hand releases from the ball. Be sure to practice making "clean" releases. Throughout the two-second follow through, the elbow remains flexed (bent) and the fingers continue to point upward (“5 up & 5 down”). The shooting hand finishes just above the guide hand.
Following Your Shot
A good shooter can usually feel that his shot is going in or not the instant the ball leaves his hand. Therefore, as soon as contact is made with the floor, aggressively follow your shot to the area in which the rebound may go. Generally speaking the ball bounces nearly as far as the shot itself.
To Shoot, Or Not To Shoot?
A player's individual talent not withstanding, each player must be a scoring threat on the floor. However, the question is to shoot or not to shoot? Below are variables you must instinctively think about as you square up and face the basket.
1. What is my shot range?
2. How well am I being pressured?
3. Do I have good balance?
4. Are there better shots available?
5. Do I have rebounders?
6. What is the score?
7. How much time is left?
Play the Percentages
Understand that you are normally half as effective in a game as you are when practicing alone. Therefore, if you make 70% of your shots in practice from behind the arc you will more than likely be a 35% shooter in games. Great shooters will make above 40% in games, good shooters 35% and average shooters 30%. Any percentage below that and you should not be shooting in a game!
In order to increase your range as a shooter; concentrate on the following tips:
1. Generate greater up-force.
2. Step in to your shot using the one-two plant.
3. Increase your dip and arc of the ball.
Form Shooting - Click HERE to watch this in action!
It is very important, prior to any shooting practice, to warm-up with proper form shooting. Such exercises are guaranteed to increase your shooting accuracy.
Form Shooting Progression
1. Wrist Extensions – While sitting on your knees, place your hands on the floor with your arms straight and stretch out your forearms. Then turn your hands upside down and repeat the process.
2. Trace & Retrace – Lay down on your back with your shooting elbow tucked close to your body. Assume the perfect platform and extend your arm into the air with full extension. Retrace the motion back to the original position.
3. Arm Swing – Sit down in your stance with your shooting arm hanging by your side. Swing this arm back and forth, eventually locking into the perfect platform position. Then with your guide hand, push your elbow up, fully extended.
4. Groove Your Shot / 1-Handed – With one hand bring the ball up into the perfect platform. From here, shoot vertical (up and out of the phone booth). After a made shot, take one step back and repeat. Do this on the right side and then from the left side, using your left hand.
5. Groove Your Shot / 2-Handed – Stand directly in front of the basket and simply add your guide hand. Concentrate on finishing “5 up / 5 down” with a special emphasis on a “clean release”.
Coach Hueser’s “3-Pointer”
1. Visualize shooting through the top of a phone booth
2. Get your homework done early: get low and catch with your feet ready to shoot.
3. Utilize six inch shot fakes and half rips to free yourself up from the defense.
Do know your range.
Do know what a good shot is (B-P-R).
Do step into the pass to get the shot off more quickly.
Do plant your inside foot when squaring to the basket.
Do provide passers “10 up” (hands up target).
Do use shot fakes to get by the defense.
Do think to yourself, “Finger through the rim!”
Do practice shooting as if you were in a game.
Don’t pass up an open 12-footer to get a contested 8-footer.
Don’t leave the guide hand on the ball too long (“clean release”) because it could adversely affect the shot.
Don’t fade on the shot.
Don’t watch the flight of the ball – keep your eye on the target.
Don’t hitch the ball above or behind the head.
Keys to a Quality Shooting Workout:
Shooting is a very important part of the game and it gets a lot of attention, as it should; therefore, when mapping out your workout incorporate these types of shots whether you are shooting alone, on the Gun or with a teammate(s):
Spot-up, Catch & Shoot
Cut, Catch & Shoot
Dribble & Shoot
Catch & Drive Shots (pull-ups & to the rim)
Catch, Shot Fake & Drive Shots (pull-ups & to the rim)
Finish Through Contact (vs. coach or teammate)
All the while emphasizing:
Game shots at game speed.
Perfect form: feet to follow through.
Count and/or chart makes and compete whenever possible!
Never miss two in row.
Practice “Next Shot” mentality.
On finishing, practice “closing” the shoulder more times than not.
Keep It Simple
All players, no matter what their role is on the team, must learn to shoot both right-handed and left-handed lay-ups. Keep it simple and focus on “clean” (swish) lay-ups. Do not turn this all-important fundamental into "showtime"! We do three push-ups for each missed lay-up in practice.
Jump off of your left leg when shooting a right-handed lay-up and vice-versa when shooting a left-handed lay-up. A high jump is made by "stamping" on the last step to minimize the forward long jump. Drive your opposite knee high into the air. Protect the ball with your body and take it up strong with two hands. Keep your shooting hand behind the ball and "kiss" it off the glass. Utilize the backboard whenever possible. Exceptions may be the baseline drive and the dunk shot.
Coach Hueser’s “3-Pointer”
1. Use your body to maintain separation from the defense when attacking the basket – “close” your shoulder (10 toes to the baseline).
2. Always go strong with two hands. Always!
3. The dunk shot and finger roll should be used only when a player can elevate himself above the rim without strain.
This shot is used when you receive the ball in the low post position. It can be a very effective weapon, especially versus an opponent with greater size and/or athleticism.
With the Ball
First and foremost, always chin the ball and check over your shooting shoulder to locate the defense. With proper footwork, align your non-shooting shoulder with the rim.
The ball is then moved from the chinning position past the side of the head with full arm extension. To release the ball, flick the ball over your middle finger of your non-shooting hand. Follow-through and land with your shoulders squared to the basket.
Coach Hueser’s “3-Pointer”
1. Develop both the right-handed and left-handed jump hook when you drop step into the middle of the lane.
2. Use the glass as much as possible.
3. The development of the traditional hook shot is also very effective.
Shooting a freethrow demands extreme concentration. The outcome of many games may be decided at the freethrow line. In the final minute of a game, 67% of all the points scored are from the line. Repetition is key to becoming a good freethrow shooter, and this can only be accomplished by shooting thousands and thousands of freethrows the same way, every time. It is recommended you establish a freethrow ritual.
18:29 – The diameter of the rim (18”) to the diameter of the ball (9”).
Without the Ball
Begin by positioning your feet in the same manner each time. Align your shooting foot (and shoulder) directly with the basket (similar to that of throwing a dart). Often you can find a small nail hole to assist in the proper alignment. Mentally (and/or physically) rehearse your stroke before dribbling the ball and picture the ball going through the basket.
With the Ball
Bend your knees and "settle in". Then dribble a set number of times (usually no more than three dribbles). Take one deep breath, relax, and focus on just “you and the hoop”. At this time, creating a verbal sequence can help your concentration as well (i.e. "Hang it high”).
Be sure you hold the ball the same way each time. Then, with your shooting elbow in (integrity of the elbow) and under the ball, bring the ball straight up through the shot line, release it high, and lock off your elbow and wrist. Finally, follow-through for two seconds.
Coach Hueser’s “3-Pointer”
Simplicity in body motion is key to freethrow accuracy. Economize your motion!
Incorporate "game-like conditions" into your freethrow practice (i.e. fatigue, pressure, players on the lane).
By practicing freethrows with your eyes closed, it will heighten your senses and improve your shot.