One thing all great shooters have in common can be summarized in one word and that is practice. How they became an excellent shooter is consistent practice and repetition after repetition after repetition ok you get it.
How to become a better shooter in basketball, This Ultimate Guide is loaded with tips workouts and shooting hacks. It won’t be enough to just read this guide to benefit from it, but actually applying the tips and principles is where you will see the improvement. In this guide, you will find a layup workout, a shooting workout, and a visualization strategy to improve your shooting.
Apply these workouts and you will fast track your results and gain the confidence you are looking for on the court. Never settle, always look to improve starting now.
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How To Shoot A Basketball
If I provide too much information to you on how to shoot a basketball it may be too confusing or you will flat out stop reading. I’m sure you have heard this acronym before on shooting and it is called B.E.E.F.
B.E.E.F. is an excellent reminder on how to shoot the basketball and it is easy to remember. Keeping it simple for is important, the more stuff I throw at the harder it is to remember and do all at once.
The fast track to good shooting form for a player is to give them a baseline of shooting form such as the B.E.E.F. method, then go back and slowly fix one thing at a time. I believe from experience coaching players to shoot the basketball that the more you throw at them at one time, the more you will need to fix their mechanics thereafter.
B – is For Balance
You should be in an athletic stance, feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart knees bent ready for the ball. If I were to push you softly would you fall over or lose your balance? Your feet may have a slight turn with your toes pointing slightly left if you are a right-hand shooter and right slightly if you are a left-hand shooter.
E – is For Eyes
Where should your eyes be, I have heard many way players look and coaches teach, I personally look at the front of the rim, You may the back of the rim. Steph Curry apparently looks at the hook in the middle of either side of the rim that is centered, these hooks are where the mesh hooks on to.
With trial and error, you will have to decide what works best for you, if you feel much of your shots hit the back of the rim I would aim for the front of the rim. If you feel most of your shots when you miss are short then I would aim for the back of the rim.
E – is For Elbow
The elbow should be at a 90-degree angle and straight up and do in relation to the body. How to know if your elbow is straight? Use a wall, stand next to the wall ( If you are right-handed have the wall on your right side) and you may even grab a ball. Get in shooting position, put your elbow against the wall. The wall will tell you to right away if you have a chicken wing of a shot. Do not put the forearm and hand flat against the wall to make the whole arm straight.
F – Is For Follow Through
The finger pads and tips of the fingers should be the only thing touching the ball, When you follow through you want to extend the arm fully and snap the wrist to get the backspin needed. When following through think of the rim as a fruit basket and while snapping your wrist grab a fruit from the basket. Your arm and hand should be straight and in line with the rim.
Changing Shot Mechanics
Trying to drastically improve shooting form during the season is a bad idea for the player. I see basketball coaches doing this all the time trying to change a player shot right before the season is about to begin. It isn’t realistic to change a player shot during the season, in fact, I have yet to see a player be successful in doing so.
You are risking tampering with the shot they have already worked hard on all summer, yes it has flaws I’m sure. But to change it can possibly ruin the hard work they have put in already and mess with there confidence during the season.
It is more realistic to evaluate their shot and fix one thing they could greatly benefit from, that can be stance, elbow or follow through etc.
Remember it takes hundreds if not thousands of practice shots just to embed that new skill in your head and make it second nature. They may not have that much time and or ability to do so while the season ha started.
Now that is not to say that if a player comes to the coach with terrible form and can not hit the side of the barn, by all means, do what’s necessary. Improving their form will have that player shooting better then he was before in no time.
I strongly believe that improving shot mechanics should be done in the offseason where the player is able to do volume shooting and practice until he improves his form and not have to think twice about his form.
The last thing you would want to do is lose confidence in your game and ruin your season because you are trying to change your shot or expecting results that take months if not years to see.
How To Improve & Fast Track Your Results
I don’t see anyone ever talking about this and it is so important in my opinion, that is observing and feeling a missed shot and asking yourself why?
~SEE + FEEL + ADJUST~
I am practicing in the gym with a partner and we are doing some shooting from different spots in the gym. I shoot the ball and it hits the front of the rim. I shot the ball and missed, I SEE that it missed as the ball hit the front of the rim. I now know what it FEEL‘s like to miss short so I take that in. It felt as if I didn’t have enough power behind the shot. Now I ADJUST, I could tell that I didn’t extend my follow through the whole way.
I shoot the next shot and make it. SEE, FEEL, and ADJUST are so important, it doesn’t take long to do so either. This will fast track your results if you learn what it feels like to miss a shot you can avoid it and make the necessary adjustments fairly quickly.
Leave it to practice and pick up games to SEE, FEEL, ADJUST. During league games, I suggest to not to do this, it may cause you to overthink unless you are good at having a short term memory after a missed shot.
“The best athletes in the world have short term memory”…
Casual shooting is a waste a time, the only casual shots you should be shooting are free throws. Don’t get me wrong, a complete beginner trying to figure out how to shoot and establish their shot should do a lot more casual shooting until they are comfortable with their form.
I played basketball ever since I could remember, but it wasn’t until I was in my freshman year that I realized how much time I wasted shooting pointless and effortless shots without a purpose, I had no idea what I was improving I just wanted to be able to shoot well.
Putting the ball into the basket was easy standing there and I didn’t think it would be hard on the move either, I was young and never was really coached by a someone who was knowledgeable at the game. To add to this I had terrible form.
When you play a video game you get better the more you play the game, in any sport if you don’t critique yourself or adjust and make improvements, and you rely on simply playing you start to develop bad habits in your game especially in your shooting form.
All this practice on my shot and to some degree I could shoot when open, but I had terrible form. I shot like Lonzo Ball but not as ugly, still ugly. You would think all those shots, my form would be somewhat acceptable, not the case.
I spent my next two summers during high school fixing my form and shooting game situation shots as much as I could. Many players couldn’t believe how good over the summer I became. It wasn’t difficult when you love playing a sport soo much it is easy to work hard cause its fun.
Shooting form in basketball is like a golf swing, you need to be constantly working at it.
Simple Shooting Workout
As soon as you have a general baseline of good shooting mechanics, you should then start to incorporate game situation shots. Such shots for beginners may include the following:
Catch and Shoot – Catching the ball and shooting right away or spinning the ball to yourself catch and shoot. You can use the 5 spots, corners, elbows and the middle of the hoop. Start close to the rim then back up.
One dribble Set shot – Take one dribble and shoot.
One dribble pull up – One dribble jump shot. Going to the Left and right.
Pump fake shot – Fake the shot then shoot, can be no dribble, or with one dribble.
Jab step shot – Jab step then shoot.
2 Dribbles shoot – Take 2 dribbles then shoot can incorporate a move like a crossover.
3 Dribble shoot – Take 3 dribbles incorporate a move then shoot.
You played a game last night and did ok, you missed some shots that you felt you could have made. We all feel this way, but think back to the shots that you probably had no business taking, we all do this too.
Pick 5 shots from your game the night prior and practice those shots a much as you can. This will help you score the next time those shots come up. Players usually have a general idea of where they like to shoot from and score from.
Practice sets of 25 of each shot and envision the same dynamic in your head that happened in the game as if you are about to shoot that same shot again.
When you continuously do this you will feel more comfortable making that shot the next time in a game when the opportunity presents itself.
During the high school basketball season, there wasn’t much time to do volume shooting and a lot of shooting drills, due to school, 2-hour practice and games. When we did have a game I would remember the five shots I missed and would work on them the next day in practice. Again I am envisioning the exact same scenario that I experienced the game before when I shot the ball but this time I am sinking it.
Form shooting should be performed before every game, practice and shoot around. The idea is to start with perfect form and build correct shooting habits. it is like a reminder to yourself how to shoot once you learn the proper mechanics.
You want to start off close to the basket 2 to 4 feet away, at first use one hand and shoot the ball into the basket, you are using the same shooting mechanics except your not using the guiding hand which is your non-dominant hand. you can place it behind you back if you want, concentrating on release and follow-through for 10 shots.
Then add the guide hand and perform another 10 shots you may step back if you would like 5 to feet away. This drill may not seem difficult but I assure you it will instill proper shooting mechanics and is essential to muscle memory and preventing bad habits from forming.
Free Throw Routine
A free-throw routine should consist of something you are comfortable doing at the line each time before you shoot the ball. The routine helps you focus on making the basket. The idea of the routine is to practice it until it becomes second nature.
This helps because when you have to shoot critical free-throws down the stretch of a game, by following your free-throw routine you can focus on the routine and block out the pressure. If you feel the pressure to make the shot, you have the routine to alleviate some of the pressure.
What does a routine consist of or look like?
- Referee passes you the ball, you set up your feet at the free-throw line.
- Look at the basket and envision your routine in your head while shooting and making the shoot (This is quick maybe 2 to 3 secs).
- Now the routine: For myself, I dribble once, twice, pick up the ball and spin it then place my hands on the ball exactly where I like it.
- Look at the Rim, Aim and Shoot the ball.
It is important when you are practicing your routine to actually shoot every free throw with your routine. I like to do sets of 25 and try to shoot for 100 shots. Keep Track and try to beat your record out of 100, challenge yourself.
Shooting free-throw shots is also an excellent way to practice shooting in a straight line to the basket while working on your shooting form. Again find a routine that you are comfortable with not one to show off to the crowd.
“The difference between you and me is that you think the ball is going in, but I know it’s going in”.
The quote above was from a friend who tragically passed away, I played basketball with Eli and I heard him say this to a player one time in the gym. Eli could play and definitely shoot, and when I heard him say this, I immediately laughed and thought how true this statement was.
This is the difference-maker in becoming an elite shooter, the mentality of all that practice and hard work allowed you to gain the confidence to say the above quote to yourself and really believe it. When you can say this quote you will know, I promise you that.
I can tell you why shooters are made and not born, becoming a good shooter takes hard work and tireless effort with a lot of disappointment attached to it. Along the way, you’re going to see shooting slumps missed tie/game-winners.
You will get discouraged and hate the game at times, but persistence and dedication to the game will get you through it, with a goal in mind and consistent progress with a daily work ethic you can see the results that you are looking for.
But many will fail, many will quit and many won’t even bother trying. You have to be completely obsessed with the game of basketball and improving your game. The results are not instant, it can take many months and years to be an elite player with a dead-eye shot. Really think about that, how bad do you want it.
Pay attention I’m going to give you a tip that you may not believe that works, but I have done this so many times and I have had better results than actually working on my game to achieve the outcome that I want.
First a story, there was a prisoner of war that was held captive in Vietnam for a number of years and to maintain his own sanity played an imaginary round of golf in his head every day.
He envisioned the perfect stance and swing. He imagined every shot he took and every approach that he would take to get the ball to the hole, taking in all the variables such as the weather, the lie and what club to use.
His thoughts were so deep in his mind with the game he was playing that he really thought he was on the course in realtime.
He was eventually released from prison, and as soon as he could, he played a round of golf.
To his own amazement, he managed to sink a hole in one off the first tee and proceeded to play the best round of his entire life destroying his previous best score. Shortly after that round he played in a golf tournament and won.
His many years of using visualization to play golf was a testament to himself, that he didn’t actually have to play the game to improve. Studies have already proved this, your central nervous system doesn’t know the difference between actually hitting a golf ball or shooting a basketball compared to when you visualize it yourself.
The power of visualization is underestimated, that some even say the reason many professional athletes even become pro in any sport is there mental game is on another level than their opponents which helps them improve quicker and overcome adversity.
Just Give Me The Tip Already… Here’s the tip, Grab a basketball, lie down or sit up it really doesn’t matter. You are going to shoot the basketball to the ceiling and pretend you are shooting the ball into your favorite rim or basketball hoop. As your shooting the ball to the ceiling, visualize the spot on the court you want to shoot the ball from, visualize the ball going into your favorite hoop and see it go through the net (SWISH!!). Take your time on each shot, do not go fast, aim for sets of 25 and try 200 shots a day. Easy right, give it a try, you might be surprised at the results.
Layup Workout Program
Here is a layup workout you can do before a game or in practice if you have time. You can always just do fewer shots in this case. This layup workout will help your touch around the rim. You can do 10 reps or 2 to 5 reps to warm up before a game.
Layups are so important in games as it can be an easy way to get buckets. The worse feeling in basketball is a missed layup, as a coach this can really hurt the team and kill the confidence in a player’s game immediately
- Right Hand
- Left Hand
- Right hand on the left side of the rim.
- Left hand on the right side of the rim.
Standing Directly Under The Rim & Spin The Ball Into The Basket:
- Right Hand
- Left Hand
- Back against the baseline use the right hand
- Back against the baseline use the left hand
- Mikan drill forward and revere layups
2 Feet Jump Stops (Take One Dribble)
- Right-hand right side use backboard
- Left-hand left side use backboard
- Front of rim use backboard
- Right-hand right side no backboard
- Left-hand left side no backboard
- Front of rim no backboard
Full Speed Layups (From underneath the basket toss and spin the ball at the elbow and perform one dribble max power jump stops).
- Alternate by doing a right and left-hand layup full speed with jump a stop.
- In front of the rim
- Dribble left jump stop right. Dribble right jump stop left etc alternating.
Shooting slumps will happen and unfortunately, you will have games where you think you could probably shoot better with your eyes closed. You will question yourself, you will lose confidence in yourself, but I assure you the only way to get out of a shooting slump is to shoot your way out.
Other things besides shooting poorly that may cause your shooting slump can be something as easy as shot selection. Are you taking difficult shots? Are you forcing shots? Are these shots you would normally take? More often than not these things attribute to a shooting slump.
Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors in 2018/19 Season endured a 35 game shooting slump at the beginning of the season. Thompson field goal percentage was 44 percent and his 3 point percentage was 33.7 percent. These numbers were the lowest in his career. He still averaged 18.7 points per game, while at the end of the season it jumped to 21.5 points per game.
Although in the slump he still managed to break the record for most three’s in a half with 10 and in a game with 14 total and score 52 points in the process, crazy to think that his shooting slump is still better than most of the NBA.
The fact that the media considered this to be a shooting slump was insane really, when Klay was asked about it he simply said “Aren’t we in first place”. Klay Thompson didn’t change anything, he is a professional and has probably experienced this many times and knew that the percentages would come around.
I highly recommend watching this man play basketball and how he moves without the ball to get open, watching him is like watching a basketball clinic.
Conditioning Shooting Drills
Not incorporating conditioning drills in your shooting, or simply not being tired while doing some of your shooting workouts is a mistake. Think of this, how many times do you go to the free-throw line after being fouled and are exhausted from the play. You step to the free-throw line and you’re trying to pull yourself together and just breathe properly.
Now you have to shoot the ball, in practice, I would always have my team shoot free-throws immediately after drills and before getting water, to simulate game-like conditions.
Shooting drills that incorporate some sort of running while shooting will put you in better shape and it is a skill in itself to shoot while your tired, many basketball games are decided in the 4th quarter. So ask yourself how will you prepare yourself for the 4th or even overtime.
Reps, Reps And More Reps
To become an excellent shooter your really need to be obsessed with getting better and to get better you need to put up reps and lots of them. During team practice, you might be able to put up 100 shots. During a game and warmup maybe 50 shots if your lucky.
That isn’t a lot of repetitions now is it, that why players take the offseason seriously cause they know that’s where they do a mass amount of repetitions for the skill they are trying to improve. It is to difficult to play have practice and games and put up volume shots consistently without burning themselves out.
In order to set yourself for success to be a great shooter, your looking at least 500 shots a day or more to fast track your progress. During the summer of my senior year, I did just that and improved my jumper dramatically, I was a completely different player.
I would wake up in the morning have breakfast and go outside and shoot 250 shots. I would then bus to the YMCA downtown and play ball to the evening. Come home eat dinner and go back outside to my backyard and shoot another 250 shots before the sun came down. I still shot in the dark believe it or not.
The type of shots that I would shoot were usually the shots that I had missed playing pick up games and I would work on those shots first and then add other shots to the mix.
Track & Record Your Shooting Progress
After high school, I still played a lot of basketball but found shooting around and doing drills to be pretty boring especially without a partner. But in came the idea of tracking your shots and recording your progress.
This was an awesome idea, when you record your shots the following day you try to beat yesterdays record. Not only do you see progress at your fingertips and a gauge of increase accuracy but it absolutely makes every shot important. You can actually feel pressure to be better than you were the day before. This makes it challenging to score and is competitive.
The way to keep track as you are shooting it goes something like this. You start shooting you are 1 for 1 (1-1), 1 for 2 (1-2), 2 for 3 (2-3) etc. The first number is the shots made, the second number is the shot attempts, this would be how you could keep track of the number of shots in your head.
If you shot 20 shots and made only 14 of them, you would record it as 14 for 20 (14-20) . Simple and easy just need a pen and or pad, also a note editor works on your phone.
If you need a shooting workout I have written and provided a sample workout in this article called 10 must-have basketball accessories where I recommend a shooting workout/program. Feel free to add anything you would like in place of it, make it your own as it is just a spot up shooting as of now. You can record and track your progress.
Common Shooting Mistakes
Using The Off Hand Thumb/Hand To Help Shoot The Ball
Doing so becomes very difficult to simultaneously shoot the ball with both hands and will cause the ball to spin sideways and be offline with the target. It will be very hard to get any backspin that is necessary to get that soft shot onto the rim to create those rollins shooters love.
This is when the shooter’s elbow sticks out and is not directly underneath the ball but sticking out. I have not seen a great shooter ever have a chicken wing for a shot.
Chucking The Basketball
This is the result of a lack of strength or the wrong size of basketball for young athletes. A lack of strength will result in poor shooting form which also means the player is out of their shooting range. Which also suggests the player shooting mechanics will suffer they need to get under the shot and heave it to the rim, which you can bet that they will not be consistent in making the basket.
If your unsure what size of basketball your son, daughter or player should be using refer to article below called Basketball Size Chart: Choosing The Right Size For Kids.
Steph Curry Syndrome
I am not hating on Steph Curry I think he is a great role model to the kids, He has definitely changed the game of basketball and you can argue his impact and mark is more profound then Lebron and Iverson. All across the globe young athletes want to be like Steph Curry, we all do.
Who wouldn’t? Kids want to be Steph Curry so bad that they are trying to shoot like Steph Curry. This is very bad for a kids game. All they want to do is shoot three-pointers.
Many young athletes are adopting a playing style that is unrealistic at their age. They can barely get the ball to the basket without chucking it sacrificing any sort of form they even had prior to the shot.
I always compare basketball to golf, for the average golfer that steps to the tee and tell themselves I’m going to hit this ball as hard and as far as I can. So the golfer hits the ball really far and really off course to another green that they played 2 hours ago.
What do you think happened? The novice golfer sacrificed all form to hit the ball as hard as he could in the process not even getting close to the huge fairway in front of him. Shooting a basketball is no different if you are out of your range and you are having to dig deep to get the ball to the rim from afar you are definitely sacrificing form.
Most Steph Curry juniors are using basketballs that are too big and heavy for them at their age, They then imprint this terrible way to shoot in their game for many years to come.
I coached a basketball team in which every kid on the team shot three-pointers. We were terrible at them, we shot 17 percent after taking like 40 of them in our first game. Nothing changed thereafter, they didnt get better over the course of the season.
Most of the players that year, lived by the three even though they were not three-point shooters. They would catch fire one game then the next 4 games go cold. I had to put an end to how many three-pointers these guys were taking. We were not learning how to play basketball.
The fast break was a three, easy layup nope three instead, every game threes on top of threes on top of threes. Yes Im the coach but basketball wasnt everything to these kids, a lot of missed practices and guys looking at there team and not expecting much. What was I to do?
I had to re-teach what a good shot was and a bad shot was, and flat out tell kids that if you cant hit 7 out of 10 in practice in front of me with no one guarding you and all the time in the world you have no business shooting three’s. They calmed down a little on the three-point attempts. I forgot to mention these kids were varsity boys basketball players.
Steph Curry no doubt changed the game of basketball, even in the NBA teams are shooting doubled the threes they were over ten years ago.
Double Rim Hoops
I highly recommend shooting on double rim hoops as soon as you have good shooting mechanics, to me this is a shooter’s hack.
Double rims are very unforgiving rims, it almost feels like the rim cylinder is smaller than a normal rim but I assure you they are the same size. In my opinion, it does give off that feeling that you are shooting on a smaller rim because of the increase of missed shots you may experience.
On a double rim, if the ball first hits the rim, you can guarantee 8 out of 10 times its bouncing out and not going in. So why shoot on double rims? Double rims automatically make you focus and concentrate on your shot more than a regular rim. It also forces you to adjust after a missed shot.
If you generally shoot with low arc, I can tell you that you will struggle on double rims as you will hit the rim first and getting rolls in these rims is not easy. It is a great way to fix your arc, with a perfect arc you will get some friendly roll-ins but not as many as a regular rim. Your low arc shots will be apparent and will force you to shoot with a little more arc.
This completes the guide, if you like this article and are interested in more shooting guides, I will be coming out with the ultimate shooting workouts Ebook where you can track and challenge yourself to be a better shooter.