5 Steps to Perfect Shooting Form in Basketball

5 Steps to Perfect Shooting Form in Basketball

Most of you reading this should know by now, basketball’s most important skill is shooting. The first step to acquiring basketball’s most important skill? Mastering your shooting form in basketball.

You don’t have to be the most athletic, the quickest, or the fastest hands to get on the basketball court and get yourself some playing time. Elite shooting is something that always finds its way onto the court.

Shooting is more important than…

  • Ball handling.
  • Footwork.
  • Finishing.
  • And yes, I will say it… Defense.

How can this be?

The game has evolved into a game played farther and farther away from the basket. Defenses have to guard farther outside their comfort zone with better shooters increasing at a high rate. This allows the offense multitudes of more space to work with. 

Shooting is the engine to all other skills. Shooting creates better handles, better finishing, better decision-making, and better opportunities. This is why shooting is the most important skill. It’s the opportunity gateway to all others. Without it, your potential as a basketball player significantly decreases. Coaches want shooters.

Yes, but some of you might still be saying defense is still more important. Don’t get me wrong, I know how vital defense is to the longevity of a basketball player’s career, but the majority of defensive skill comes down to knowledge and effort. Building the mastery of shooting takes years and years of practice. The reason I believe shooting is more important than defense as a skill for basketball players to train is because it takes much more time to master.

It is also important to note that perfecting your basketball shot does NOT mean that your basketball shot is ever going to be “perfect.” Even Steph Curry’s form isn’t “perfect” by the book, but hey, guess what… It sure does work.

We are all unique in our own way, just with anything in life, so it is important to remember that your shot is never going to look exactly the same as other basketball players. Embrace the fundamentals and foundations of shooting to perfect YOUR basketball shot.

There Are 3 Main Steps to Acquiring Elite Level Shooting:

  1. Basketball Shot Form
  2. Repetitions (Muscle Memory)
  3. Mentality and Mindset

These 3 main progressions will be discussed in more detail in a later blog.

Today, I’d like to dive deep into step number 1, basketball shot form.

Your basketball shooting technique is the first step to developing Curry-like status of shooting a basketball.

There are 5 crucial pieces to everyone’s basketball shot form. I like using pillars as a way to say tips, steps, progressions, and so on because, without one of the white house pillars, everything would come crashing down. This invites the reader to realize that all steps are necessary to one another. So if you ever hear me say pillars, this is what I am referring to. 🙂

5 Pillars for “Perfect” Shooting Form in Basketball:

  1. Shooting Pole
  2. Line of Power
  3. Field Goal Post
  4. Shooting Pocket
  5. Shooting Path

The First Pillar of Shooting Form in Basketball: Shooting Pole

Shooting pole is the number one form terminology for a reason. It relates to the balance of our shot. 

Many NBA players have been asked, including Steph Curry, what they think the most important aspect of shooting a basketball is, every player’s answer? Balance.

The shooting pole is the balance of our shot. It’s how well we control our center of gravity in an up and down manner as we shoot a basketball.

The shooting pole is an imaginary pole that goes through the top of our head and in between our legs. 

Shooting pole of basketball shot form

The goal of maximizing your shooting pole is your ability to control going up and down it. We don’t want to be falling “off” our shooting pole. Falling forward, backward, side to side without control would be considered falling “off,” and poor balance.

Another awesome way to think of your shooting pole is a merry-go-round. Controlled fluidity from the bottom of your jump, to the top of your jump, and back down to the bottom. This is a visual I have found that helps all kids truly understand a shooting pole’s purpose.

Mastering your balance and control of your body is the first step to perfect shooting of the basketball.

Some shooting drills you can do by yourself to improve your shooting pole are shown on our tik tok with over 46 thousand followers! @ctghoops

The Second Pillar of Shooting Form in Basketball: Line of Power

Line of power is the second most important basketball shot form terminology. It’s another one of those concepts that is essential to let others flourish around it.

Do you ever wonder how NBA players can shoot from so far beyond the arc? The answer is in the name.. line of POWER.

The line of power is the line we make between the ball and our body when we are at our lift point in our basketball shot. Our lift point is when the ball should be just above your eyebrow right before you shoot and extend into your follow-through. Below is an image of Steph Curry’s lift point.

lift point of basketball shot form

The line of power should be one line from the…

  • Ball
  • Wrist
  • Shoulder
  • Elbow
  • Hip
  • Knee
  • Ankle

Having one straight smooth line gives us an effortless line of power, and the ability to shoot as far as we desire.

Line of power of basketball shot form

The majority of inaccurate shooters have a “broken” line of power in their basketball shot form. This causes what we call a “power leakage,” not giving us the maximum amount of shooting range that we could have.

The line of power is also necessary for the effortless feeling inside a jump shot. When we have breaks in our line of power, it prevents one fluid motion from transpiring.

One fluid motion paired with a line of power is what allows players like Steph Curry and Damian Lillard to shoot so far. 

Damian Lillard deep shot with basketball shot form

Another way to think of our basketball shot is like a golf swing. Would you want to stop your golf swing halfway through to try and get more power into the golf ball? Most definitely not. So why would we try the same with our basketball shot?

Shooting the ball farther is all about energy transfer. To maximize our energy transfer within our basketball shot, we must have a good line of power creating our one fluid motion.

Some shooting drills you can do by yourself to improve your line of power are shown on our tik tok with over 37 thousand followers! @ctghoops

The Third Pillar of Shooting Form in Basketball: Field Goal Post

The field goal post is a crucial piece to master perfect basketball shot form.

The majority of coaches only talk about the follow-through. The key piece that everyone seems to be missing? The shooting hand and the guide hand working together as they finish the basketball shot.

This is what I like to call the field goal post.

As we all may know in football, to get 3 points for your team, you must kick a football through the uprights.

Real field goal post in the sport football

This is a perfect analogy to pair our shooting hand and guide hand together as we follow through.

Our shooting hand follow-through key concepts:

  • Elbow is locked NOT bent
    • This allows full energy transfer of the ball
  • Bullets to the floor
    • The “bullets” are our fingers
    • The majority of players have poor bullets not facing in the direction of the ground
    • Having bullets go straight towards the ground creates good rotation on our basketball shot
    • Lots of coaches call this the “cookie jar”
  • Not crossing or falling from face
    • This is a crucial aspect of the field goal post

Our guide arm follow-through key concepts:

  • Our elbow is locked NOT bent
    • A slight bend is okay
  • Our fingers are shooting towards the sky
  • Our palm is FACING our shooting arm NOT towards the rim
    • The majority of players struggle with this because of the notorious thumb flick
    • We do NOT want to be shooting the basketball with two hands

If we obey these key concepts of a follow-through for BOTH the shooting arm and guide hand, you will come to realize we are going to make a perfect shape of a field goal post. 

To be “making” our field goal post, our follow-through should look like the image below. 

field goal post of basketball shot form

Our head is the football. So for us to get our 3 points, our arms should not be covering our face in any way. We also don’t want a crooked or bent field goal post. This causes poor energy transfer and less range.

Here are some images below on what NOT to do for your field goal post:

shooting hand crossing face in bad basketball shot form

guide hand facing the rim with bad basketball shot form

Here are some images below on what your field goal post SHOULD look like:

Steph Curry with a perfect shooting field goal post

Klay Thompson with a perfect shooting field goal post

Some shooting drills you can do by yourself to improve your field goal post are shown on our tik tok with over 37 thousand followers! @ctghoops

The Fourth Pillar of Shooting Form in Basketball: Shooting Pocket

We have talked slightly about the lift pocket. The lift and shooting pocket are COMPLETELY different.

The reason the shooting pocket is so valuable to our form, is because most coaches teach it actually the opposite way, especially for the girl’s side of basketball.

Our shooting pocket is wherever we catch the basketball and bring the ball to before we get into our lift pocket. 

The progression normally goes like this:

Catch -> Shooting Pocket -> Lift Pocket -> Field Goal Post

Do you know where all elite shooters bring their shooting pockets too?

The waist area… NOT the shoulder area.

Steph Curry with the correct shooting pocket in basketball shot form

The majority of coaches in the girl basketball community actually teach kids to have their shooting pocket on their shoulder. They believe this creates a quicker release which is false. All your doing from having a shooting pocket at your shoulder is creating an extremely inefficient way to transfer energy.

A perfect analogy for a good shooting pocket is this:

If I was walking up to the plate in baseball getting ready for a pitch, do you think you should start with the bat right in front of your stomach? Or do you think we should start the bat behind our body so we have more momentum into our swing?

If you’re teaching kids to have their shooting pocket from their shoulder for a quicker release, it’s the same thing as trying to tell a baseball player to start their bat swing right in front of their body.

The reason for this is because it creates no momentum when our shooting pocket is from our shoulder. When we start our shooting pocket from the waist region, we are going to have much more momentum, creating a much better energy transfer of the ball. 

Some shooting drills you can do by yourself to improve your shooting pocket are shown on our tik tok with over 37 thousand followers! @ctghoops

The Fifth Pillar of Shooting Form in Basketball: Shooting Path

This is the final, and last main key piece to the puzzle to master perfect shooting of the basketball.

Our shooting path is the distance the ball comes from our body when we are trying to shoot the basketball.

“Loose” Path:

Ball comes up extremely far from the body creating a two-motion shot and more space needed to get shot off.

loose path with ball far from body in bad basketball shot form

“Tight” path:

Ball comes up extremely close from the body creating a one-motion shot and less space needed to get shot off.

tight path with ball close to body in good basketball shot form

As elite shooters, we want less and less space needed to get our shot off. The more space we need, the fewer shot opportunities we are going to have.

Do you want to have more shots made with defenders right in your face? The shooting path is your ticket to achieving that goal. Get more shot opportunities in-game by practicing a “tight” shooting path.

Some shooting drills you can do by yourself to improve your shooting path are shown on our tik tok with over 37 thousand followers! @ctghoops


3 Main Pillars to Shooting a Basketball at an Elite Level:

  1. Basketball Shot Form (The pillar discussed in detail throughout this article)
  2. Repetition and Muscle Memory
  3. Mentality and Mindset

We will cover all 3 main pillars in-depth at a later time on our blog.

5 Main Pillars to Perfect Shooting Form:

  1. Shooting Pole
  2. Line of Power
  3. Field Goal Post
  4. Shooting Pocket
  5. Shooting Path

Yes, there are tons of more shooting details that go into the basketball techniques of shooting, but if you focus on mastering these five broader concepts of shooting form, you are well on your way to mastering the first pillar of elite shooting; Form.

If you’re interested in more in-depth detail about mastering the art of shooting a basketball, check out our CTG Shooting Academy, The Shooting Feet Blueprint, or How to Transform From a Set Shot to Jumper. This gives much more breakdown onto all of our pillars in the game of basketball, and all the drills necessary to master them.

I also strongly encourage you to check out our basketball training podcast: Off the Court. This can be found on ALL listening platforms! The podcast has over 5,000 downloads.

Lastly, we have a completely free ebook: How to Unlock the Mental Side of the Game. Mental is to physical as 4 is to 1. It’s extremely important that we do not overlook this for our basketball game.

-Coach Jack