Being able to understand new and innovative terminology for shooting mechanics is CRUCIAL, not only for a coach/trainer, but for player, as well. If you can shoot on your own and realize when one of these concepts isn’t in the correct place, you have a HUGE advantage. Here, I will take you through the steps of how to shoot and how to process shooting form as you physically do it. All of these steps will still apply when you back up to take farther shots. Remember, build your base, then work your way up from there. If you go to shoot farther when your base isn’t ready, you will be left with a shot worse than when you began. Don’t let your house come falling down!
Step 1: Split the Rim
- The middle of the rim offers the most space for the ball to go through. Seems like a no-brainer, right?! All players need to be reminded!
- After you have split the rim, you want to bring your feet shoulder width apart for maximum power when you jump. This allows your knees to bend directly over your toes.
Step 2: Line of Power
- Maintain a straight line drawn from your toe, knee, hip, elbow, shoulder, and wrist.
- Many students BREAK the line of power with either a chicken wing or a knee that bends inward.
- If your line of power is broken, that creates a power leakage. This DECREASES your range and the ability to shoot consistently from farther out.
- Remember, always hold the ball with a “Shooting C” NOT a “Shooting V.” The shooting V will cause you to shoot out, decreasing your arc, which then decreases your accuracy. The shooting C allows maximum control with an upward shooting motion.
Step 3: Shooting Hands: “Piece With Nozzle” + “J” Thumb
- Putting the nozzle in between your pointer and middle finger gives you maximum control over the ball with your hand directly in the center. You should be doing this EVERY time you shoot form shots. When you move to farther back shots, your brain will self-organize, as you continue to practice this placement.
- Making a J shape with your shooting thumb allows the perfect amount of space between the palm and the ball. You do NOT want an “L” shape with your thumb, which is what many players tend to do. This means you are gripping the ball too hard, making it impossible to get to a point where your shot feels effortless.
- Do NOT block your own shot with your guide hand. Make sure your guide hand is directly to the side of the ball and barely holding up the ball. Swiping the ground during form shots will help with this!
Step 4: Shooting Pocket
- The ball goes to the shooting pocket, EVERY time you shoot the ball. This gives you maximum power and momentum into your shot. Many students have a shooting pocket at their shoulder area. DO NOT DO THIS! It will cause you to be a much weaker shooter struggling to find range. If your shot is a car, your pocket is the gas station, which fuels your shot EVERY time you catch the ball.
- ALWAYS catch with legs loaded, or as we call it, “Q” (quadruple threat).
Step 5: Field Goal Post
- Finish your shot with this EVERY time. If you can see your head (the football), then you are making your field goal post. Holding both arms locked gives you proper balance within your shoulders.
- You MUST always lock your four joints within the field goal post, both elbows and both knees. Any that are not locked will cause a power leakage, which means you aren’t using your maximum power potential within your shot.
- Make sure your guide hand does NOT turn towards the basket. If it does, this will create many more left to right misses. Elite shooters ONLY miss straight, never left to right because they know they eliminate 50% of misses, if they don’t miss left or right. Now, their only missing options are short or long.
Step 6: Launch Angle
- 45-50 degrees = optimal launch angle
- Your elbow should be above your eye, BUT make sure that you are NOT covering your whole face, which would cause you to shoot too high. If you can see your chin or your entire face, this means your launch angle is too low.
- DON’T finish in a “cobra,” meaning your elbow is NOT locked. Make sure you are finishing with a “giraffe,” meaning that your elbow IS locked.
Step 7: Quick Knees
- The lower your knees bend, the SLOWER your shot will be. Many students do this without knowing!! The quicker the knee bend of your shot, the quicker your shot will be. Having the ability to shoot more quickly, results in getting more shots off!
- Land with quiet feet, NOT loud feed. The louder your feet land, the more force is being put into the ground. With more force going into the ground, less force is going upward into your shot making it much slower. ALWAYS land on your toes, NOT your heels. Landing on your heels first creates an extra step to jump from heel to toe, which is a half-second slower than just toes and up. The half seconds matter SO much in the game of basketball!
Step 8: Shooting Pole
- ALWAYS try to land in the same position as you started. If you are on your shooting pole, you can ONLY go up and down, NEVER frontwards, backwards, or side to side. If you don’t land in your shooting pole, your shots will be inconsistent.
- Your shooting pole is like the poles on the merry-go-round at the fair… They can ONLY go up and down!
Step 9: Rhythm
- Rhythm in your shot is the ability for your arms and legs to work together in one fluid motion.
- Your legs should never start bending without your arms bending upwards at the same time. Think of a “teeter-totter.” When one side goes down, the other goes up. Executing two movements at the same time equates to a much faster shot.
- Many students have difficulty with rhythm when shooting free-throws. You will make more shots with one fluid motion.
Step 10: Shooting Path
- Shooting Path = distance the ball is from your body
- Make sure the ball is ALWAYS tight to your body. Do NOT let the ball come away from your body, as you bring up the ball. This is called a “loose path.” The tighter the path of the ball, the more contested shots you will be able to shoot!
Step 11: Shooting Window
- If you elevate in the air when shooting, you are a jump shooter. If you shoot the ball while still on the ground, you are a set shooter. This “window” terminology ONLY applies to jump shooters.
- You want your “bullets” to shoot towards the rim. Your bullets shoot from your elbow, creating a higher release, which in turn is harder to block.
- You do NOT want head space. You ALWAYS want the ball tight to your body in any situation, not just your window. Also, make sure you do NOT bring the ball in front of your face, as this causes a catapult action that gives you very little arc to your shot.
- If you can see your entire face when you shoot, this means you have a shooting window! The ball has to be above our eyes.
Step 12: Shot Apex
- Again, this will ONLY apply to you, if you are a jump shooter, NOT a set shooter.
- The apex is when you release the ball JUST BEFORE the peak of your shot. The peak of your jump is the point where you switch from moving upwards to moving downwards. You MUST make sure you are NOT holding the ball after the apex (too long), or you will find it extremely difficult to get the ball to the rim consistently. You will be short constantly! Many many jump shooters make this mistake.
Step 13: Trampoline Shooting
- When you jump on a trampoline, do you normally pause at the bottom? I sure hope not! Many students pause at the bottom of their shot before they get ready to explode, which is not effective. Remember, pausing will only slow down your shot. If your shot is slow, you won’t have the ability to get it off in a game. FOCUS on the trampoline! The second you get into shooting feet, you only go UP!
- Trampoline shooting compared to 1-2 step in MOST cases will be quicker, but NOT all.
- You have the ability to use either pivot foot when you land with two feet at the same time! One-two step forces you to choose only one pivot foot.
- MAKE SURE you are hearing “one sound” as you hop, NOT “two sounds.” If your shooting feet are making one sound, then you are doing trampoline shooting correctly.
- Trampoline shooting gives you GREAT rhythm!