To win a game, you need to score points more points than your opponent.
It’s that simple.
Seems easy on paper. But in reality, your opponent wants to win as well.
Now just imagine… buzzer is about to go for full time, you’re down a point, you’re in the lane with an easy jumper…
BUT. Your shooting technique is poor.
This could cause hesitation, confusion, bewilderment. It’s not a good place to be in.
Alongside dribbling and passing, being able to shoot the basketball is an absolute fundamental skill on offence that everyone needs to master. And don’t worry if you can’t shoot properly.
Do you think the Splash Brothers were sinking 3s during high school without any practice?
Because it’s so important, we’ve broken down 14 Simple Ways to improve your shooting technique. While these tips may help you become more knowledgeable, it’s ultimately up to you to implement these into your practice.
Be warned – this article focuses more in fundamental shot taking.
Whilst this will help, it’s pretty difficult to live by these tips for moving shots, or more advanced shots.
#1 Be Match Ready
Our first tip is simple, and probably goes unsaid.
Gameday is gameday. Practice is practice. Don’t use gameday as practice.
If you want to better your technique and form, practice as best as you can in your own time. Take training seriously.
The form you pick up when training is the form you bring into the game. Go into the game unready with poor form and no practice? Well you’re going to miss a lot more shots than you’ll make. FACT.
You don’t want to be completely focused on your form during a competitive match. A second of hesitation will leave the defenders a major advantage to block/steal that basketball from your clutches.
#2 Eye on the Prize
It’s so easy for ballers to focus on the flight of the ball, or focus on everything that’s going on around them.
While it’s important to be aware of your environment, you need to locate the rim as early as you can. This gives you a split second advantage to know exactly where you’re shooting as soon as you get rid of your defender.
Once you’ve targeted the rim, it’s important to keep your eyes focused on it. Don’t watch your hands as you release the ball.
Every shot needs precision, and alongside everything else that’s going on – teammates screaming for the ball, defenders trying to block you – it’s always good to have that intense split second focus to really nail that hoop.
#3 Get Balanced
After you’ve received the ball, the next step is balancing yourself.
Balance is such a vital aspect to shooting. Particularly, it sets you up in game to begin your shooting movement.
An ideal stance that aids balance is having your feet around shoulder width apart. However, this is highly personal. If you feel a lot more balanced and comfortable with your feet closer together, then by all means.
Not everyone is going to be a textbook shooter.
Next, try and get your feet pointing in the general direction of the hoop. It doesn’t have to be directly at it, but there’s no way you could consistently shoot hoops with your feet turned in the opposite direction.
Try keen an athletic stance, bending your knee on every shot to ensure maximum upforce.
Again. Practice makes perfect.
Once you feel comfortable with a stance, and it feels natural, stick to it. Make it muscle memory.
Having the correct elbow position has a huge impact on the overall trajectory of the ball.
Your elbow should be comfortable, but directly under the basketball, with your shooting hand in a direct line to the rim. Anything else, and you’ll lose major control over the ball.
The ball should always stay in front of your head too.
Having the ball released from behind your head sees your elbow create an extremely acute angle, which requires a lot more effort to create an optimal shooting arc.
#5 Start Small, End Tall
This is more focused on your actual body motion when shooting.
A good tip is to start small – knees slightly bent with ball around waist height. As you unravel your motion, raise the ball up into your shooting position, straighten your legs and make that small jump to provide power to your shot.
Make sure your shooting arm is completely extended in the motion.
You want to end completely open – knees straight, and your body standing tall.
This gif of Carmelo absolutely nails the form.
#6 Work on the Arc
Work on your shooting arc.
A fun fact that floats around the internet is that a flat 35 degree arc only has 0.6 inch margin of error for the ball to clear the hoop without touching the rim.
Increase that arc to 45 degrees? You have a 3 inch margin of error.
That a HUGE difference for such an easily fixable problem.
If you want to sink those jumpers and really improve upon your technique – focus on improving the arc of your shot
A proper arc means a higher chance of success.
Then again, high arc means you’ll lose the ability to throw the basketball far. Find the balance that works for you – and practice.
#7 Release Point
Focusing on your release point is where you’re going to get the best form and power that goes into your shot.
The optimal release point is just before you hit the top of your jump.
Think about it.
In order to get power, let your legs do the work. As you jump, your legs generate a whole heap of upforce – you may as well be translating that into your shots!
To make it a habit, focus on your release point as you train, and really try and find what’s optimal for you.
Ideally, you want to land in the exact same place you took the shot.
Not only does this translate into good technique, but it shows that you have great balance when taking the shot.
Jumping off the ground when taking a shot, but landing a few feet in front of you just spells bad technique. It puts you off balance, and over time, will make it more and more difficult to shoot with defenders in the way.
Try your best to land in the same spot.
#9 Follow Through
It’s pretty important to your form to hold your follow through. And some coaches absolutely live by it.
Most of the best shooters in the NBA have serious follow through commitment. The main reason? It drills form into you subconsciously.
Holding your follow through over and over again allows your motor skills and muscle memory to subconsciously apply how to properly finish a jump shot with that downward wrist flick.
As with any sport, exaggerated repetition does absolute wonders in promoting muscle memory.
Following through also means that you get maximum acceleration without slowing your wrist motion. If you don’t follow through, it means your hand will have stopped in its motion upon release.
#10 Record Yourself
Once you’ve nailed your shot, self reflection becomes an awesome tool to getting better.
Everyone nowadays has a phone with a camera on it. Why not use it?
Set it up, take a few shots with your shooting technique. Watch it. Analyse. Give yourself feedback.
A lot of players just starting out watch themselves on camera and just think “Oh my god. I cannot believe that’s how I look when I shoot.”
Think you’ve got your shooting nailed? But still missing more shots than you’re making?
You need to be honest with yourself.
#11 Get a Mate
Always good to have a friend or coach when training.
They can have one of three jobs. Being your ball boy, being your defender, or just a personal analyser.
When you’re trying to learn proper technique to shooting, repetition is key. And you’ve probably figured that out by now. You don’t want to be chasing in every single rebound to regather the ball.
That’s what mates are for!
Secondly, it’s so much easier to practice when there are no defenders. Unfortunately, in real game situations, there’s going to be a defender there.
Grab a friend to add some much needed pressure to your shooting. It will make you much more prepared for the intense moments that game day brings up.
Finally – as a bonus. Whoever’s there training with you – use them. If they’re basketball savvy, ask them what they think of your shooting form. Don’t be afraid to take criticism.
#12 Mimic Gameplay
You might think you’ll look like an idiot. You might think it won’t do anything.
Pretending you’re in a game situation, or pretending there’s a defender on you will help you get into your shooting stance quicker.
Mental challenges can be as important as physical ones.
The absolute best way to implement this is by first taking yourself seriously. Make a few pivots, cuts, or movement off screens before quickly getting into your shooting position. Immediately get into your shot.
You never know – these movements might become an important part of your game.
#13 Fix your Problems Immediately
It’s so easy to fall into bad habits.
To be fair, your bad habits are probably why you’re on this page to start with.
It’s a straightfoward tip, but something that will return ten-fold.
As soon as you see an issue with your shooting technique. Change it.
In order to continuously nail those easy 2 point jump shots, it all comes down to perfecting your technique. But that becomes difficult if you’ve based your technique on poor form and poor balance.
If fixing your technique means spending some more time in the hoop, then so be it.
You really don’t want to set a poor technique as your foundation. Start strong, perfect every aspect of your shooting motion, and the only way will be up.
#14 It’s a Numbers Game
We’re going to repeat it again.
Practice makes perfect
It’s not only a tip for basketball, and it’s not only a tip for shooting technique. It’s a tip for anything.
All professionals are dedicated, serious people who spend countless hours training and practicing.
Before every game you play, you should be grooving at least 50 shots. Get yourself in the zone.
During every training session, you should be attempting at least 100 shots. Understand your technique, learn how you shoot. Improve upon it.
These are just some simple tips that you can implement to your shooting game that we can almost guarantee will work with everyone.
Note that this doesn’t cover any moving shots (like layups or dunks), nor any advanced shots.
In saying that, it all boils down to YOU.
If you’re serious about getting better, you need to put the hours in. There are no short cuts. There are no cheat codes.