Everyone on your basketball team has a role to play; some will excel in driving the ball towards the basket while others will prioritize defense over offense. Then there’s you, the shooter. Your role will be to take every opportunity to score whenever possible. Any flaws in your execution will spell bad news for your team.
To Become a better scorer and shooter in basketball, work on these three attributes: repetition, consistency, and form. To improve scoring, proper shooting form, driving to the hoop, and practice will go a long way. The best scorers in basketball spend hours practicing their ball control, form, and shot technique.
These aspects are common in many of the best shooters in the NBA, but that’s not all the factors that define them. As there is truly no size fits all, the same applies to perfect shot form. You must spend a considerable amount of time honing in the form that works best for your play style.
By narrowing that down, it’s only a matter of time till you can efficiently nail every shot on the court.
Becoming a Better Shooter and Scorer
Every basketball player wants to become a great shooter. They are the players on the court who everyone relies on to score. Even if you don’t have proficient speed, strength, or athleticism, being a great shooter will guarantee you a place on the team. Of course, this is easier said than done.
Star shooters like Steph Curry showcase exceptional confidence with their shooting skills. Where did this confidence come from, you may ask?
The confidence of a great shooter is the result of years spent repeating their shot form, nailing every shot efficiently. In other words, repetition leads to consistency, which garners confidence.
Here’s a great compilation video of some awesome shots made by Curry. (I could watch this stuff all day)
All objections aside, there is no position more valuable than an efficient shooter. Dribbling, passing, and jumping are also important. But if you can’t send the ball into the hoop, then your team will not experience much success. A team full of good shooters will expand the team’s offense, allowing you to score more and win more games.
As we go in-depth towards improving your shooting form, remember that none of it matters if you don’t put in the work yourself. These pro-athletes started in the same position as you once. At first, they knew nothing about the sport, but over time, that hard work yielded the results you see today.
By applying that same mentality, you will see the same results in your performance.
Fundamentals of Proper Shooting Form
We all go through various periods of plateauing. Nothing is more frustrating than putting in hours of hard work, only to make little to no progress. At this stage, it’s often recommended to take a step back and fine-tune the basics. Along the way, you may have unconsciously developed a bad habit that’s impeding your progress.
Regardless of the cause, reflecting on the fundamentals will offer insight to shatter this plateau. While this may be overkill, let’s break down each step to pinpoint where the mistake originated from.
I suggest starting with a decent basketball, one that you are most likely to use in a game. I like to practice with this Wilson Evolution Game Basketball (link to Amazon) because it’s the most widely used basketball for games.
Getting Into Position
To get in the right position for shooting, you must be self-conscious of your stance and balance leading into the shot. Without a strong foundation, everything else will crumble.
Here are some guidelines to follow when getting into position:
- Place your Feet Shoulder-Width Apart: This stance will deliver a strong center of gravity as you prepare to shoot. You will also want to keep your dominant foot slightly ahead of the other. This will help keep you in line with your shoot.
- Maintain a Slight Bend in your Knees: This will make you ready to jump when you have possession of the ball. If you lock your knees before you jump, the chances of knocking yourself off balance will drastically increase.
- Gripping the ball Correctly: In this stance, you want to ensure that your shooting hand is aligned with your shoulder. This will help naturally form a straight line to the basket. The non-shooting hand will only serve to assist and balance the motion. Trying to shoot with two hands will decrease the accuracy.
- Make Eye-Contact with the Target: Many shooters will pinpoint different locations to sink their shots. Some prefer aiming directly for the net, while others will reliably use the backboard to assist. Wherever you decide on, you must keep your eyes focused on that spot. By focusing your gaze on something else, your body will realign to follow your line of vision.
Here’s a quick video about shooting hand placement, and some shooting form tips.
Nailing the Shot
Now that we’re in position, it’s time to go ahead and deliver the shot. Just as meticulous as we were with our stance, we must exercise the same mentality with how we shoot.
Here are some factors to be mindful of when releasing your shoot:
- Strength Should be Generated from your Shoulders: Many new shooters mistakenly lose accuracy by generating power from their arms and chest to shoot. Instead, most of the power should come from having your shoulders relaxed. This neutral position will ensure a more fluid shot without wasting excessive stamina.
- Don’t Neglect the Legs: Every successful shot is preceded by a successful jump. In this instance, you want to move slightly forward as you land. This motion, in combination with your shoulders being pulled back and relaxed, will give enough motion to propel the ball to its target. With your jump, you will want to release the ball before you hit the apex of your vertical.
- Shoot Off your Fingertips: Another rookie mistake is pushing the ball forward with the palm of your hands. Instead, the ball should solely be in contact with your fingertips. You will also want to focus on the ball rolling off instead of being pushed by your fingertips. This will produce the backspin and propel it in a natural arc motion. You can easily tell this if the lines of the basketball are in symmetry while spinning.
- Follow-Through with Your Shot: We cannot emphasize this enough; this is the one factor that most players neglect to do. When the ball is released, players tend to halt their motion, losing all accuracy in their throw. To complete the follow-through, your palm should be facing downward with your fingers pointing to the target.
Shooting in basketball is a simple concept. With enough practice, your muscle memory will be able to reenact it without hesitation. We advocate that the key factors you should polish are identifying your stance and your follow-through, ensuring that you’re always shooting with these in mind.
The fundamentals are essential for initiating the shot, but without your follow-through, you will fail more than you’ll succeed.
For more in depth info on taking a shot, check out my How To Shoot A Basketball Step By Step Guide.
With the fundamentals out of the way, we can apply what we learned onto the courts. Now you think that all you need to practice is to make hundreds upon hundreds of shots. Yes, we did say that practice makes perfect, but it’s all about how you practice that will yield the best results.
If we just shoot without an intended goal, we will only get so much out of practice.
In this next section, we’ll break down some of our favorite tips and drills to make the most out of your practice session. As we like to emphasize, the implementation won’t be enough to get better. Be ready to spend many sweaty hours going through periods of failure and success. Only then will you come out with a better player than when you started.
“Around the World” Shooting
Some of you may remember this fan-favorite game growing up in school. Well, this kid’s game offers a lot more merit than you would believe. This drill forces the shooter to emphasize their accuracy and precision.
The rules can vary, but essentially, the goal is to make every shot from a set pattern of different positions. The only way to advance is to score from all the selected spots. The spots can be anyway on the court.
Some prefer to mark different spots on the three-point arc while others will space out around the half-court. The rules and stipulations will always change based on the desired difficulty.
Here’s a quick video showing a team practice this drill to give you an idea of what it can look like.
Some stipulations that we recommend to make the most out of this drill are as follow:
- Set a time-constraint
- Establish a Penalty System
While this may not seem a lot, these two variables can ramp up stress for the shooter. A penalty system is always preferred to raise the stakes, almost simulating the stress during game time. Say if you give yourself a two-shot penalty. In this scenario, you’re allowed to take only two shots. If you miss both times, you have to restart from the beginning.
Even if you arrive on the final mark, missing means you have to go back to mark one.
This, in addition to a time-constraint, will force you to overcome the pressure to increase your shot efficiency. Played solo or with friends, this drill will demonstrate how much stress is involved in the shooter’s role and offer insight to overcome it.
In an earlier section, we noted that the non-dominant hand is to assist with stability and to ensure that the ball follows a set path. Yet some shooters have developed the bad habit of using both hands to shoot.
This will cause a huge deviation with your throw, causing you to miss a majority of your shots.
That’s why we advocate applying one-hand shooting in your drill routines. By taking out the “mediator” of your shooting, all other aspects of your foundation must be rock solid. We recommend starting with a cement wall to focus on getting into the right form. Once you establish consistency with your shots, you can transition to the basket.
Now you don’t want to start too far away from the basket; anywhere between 3 to 6 feet from the basket will suffice. Give yourself ten shots and see how many you can make one-handed.
If you get a majority in the basket (8 out of 10), then you can start moving farther and farther away from the basket. Also, make sure that you’re only counting good shots. By this, we mean that you’re witnessing proper backspin as you release the ball.
Here’s a quick video explanation so you can see what a one hand shooting drill looks like.
Work with a Partner for Movement-Based Shooting
With whatever drill we practice, we have to make sure that our skills can seamlessly translate towards an actual game. In these instances, it’s often best to replicate the feel of the game during practice. Anyone can make a stationary shot, but what about making one after successfully faking out your opponent?
A partner will allow you to practice movement-based shooting. They can either play offense or defense depending on the situation. Need to practice shooting while fending off a defender, they can fill that role. What about shooting after immediately receiving a pass, they can cover that job as well.
The versatility of broadening how and when you shoot will only increase your confidence as a shooter.
Even if the practice consists of stationary shooting, their assistance will help make the most out of your practice. Often, when shooting alone, we spend more time chasing after the ball than we do shooting it. With an extra pair of hands, they can continuously send the ball our way without us wasting any energy. In this scenario, we can double or triple the number of shots we would have taken if practicing on our own.
All skills must be polished before the big game. Working with your teammates to reenact these conditions will make you a shooter that can score under any situation. But more importantly, it will allow for a smoother transition when applied during regulated games.
Learning from Others
We have previously mentioned how having a partner on the court can greatly improve your training. Besides this, working with another person can offer guidance into your shooting form.
As you practice your technique, it’s best to have a more-experienced player watch your form. They can easily pinpoint factors that you may need to polish or demonstrate what works for them. If a person is not easily available, you can set up your phone to film a few of your shots.
With this video, you can study your form and examine the areas you will want to approve upon. Since the video will be easily available on your phone, you can take it or send it to others for their feedback as well.
It’s also not just those around us that can influence our play-style; we can also study the technique of the best shooters in the NBA.
Today’s shooters are known as the best in basketball’s history. They have transcended the basic foundations and discovered techniques that complement their play style. More importantly, they have overcome any mental strain associated with the game.
Here’s a fun video to watch showing some amazing shots made by these professional NBA players.
Remember, shooting is just as mental as it is technical. If you put any unnecessary strain on yourself while shooting, your accuracy and precision will decrease tremendously. By watching pro shooters land their shots, you’ll do wonders to your mentality. This positivity will help you build confidence on the court.
This confidence can even stem by conditioning yourself with “mental tricks.” Even with a solid foundation, if you don’t have any faith in yourself, you will miss more than you will succeed. This can vary from establishing a mantra for yourself when you shoot or meditation before getting on the court.
Regardless of the means, you need to establish a way to reign yourself in once you lose confidence.
Most experts would agree that our mental state can be the most harmful obstacle in our lives. In essence, we are our own worst critic. But we shouldn’t let this overwhelm us on the court. Missing a free-throw is not necessarily a bad thing.
Yes, in a game setting, that’s one less point for your team. But it should also be seen as an opportunity to learn. By reflecting, with yourself or others, you can fine-tune your technique and avoid that mistake in the future.
After reading this guide, the path to becoming a better shooter will seem like a daunting task. It’s the truth that Rome wasn’t built in a day. The same can be applied to your efficiency as a shooter; only time will reveal great things from your effort. Expecting to become a pro overnight will set you up for failure on the court.
Without sugarcoating it, the only way to get better at shooting is to put in the work on the court as much as possible. Gimmicks will not suffice for the skills developed in practice. Remember, repetition leads to consistency, which results in confidence.
Keep practicing, here are 10 Basketball Drills You Can Do At Home to give you some ideas on what you can do to train. If you’re sick of practicing, check out these 14 Fun Basketball Games to keep yourself on the court, but also give yourself a break from training.
Every pro athlete can testify to the hardships that each had to face to get to their current status. No one is born a master, and if they tell you otherwise, they’re probably lying. By applying these tips, you will build the confidence to become the best shooter in your league.
It all comes down to honing the fundamentals. Once you polish out any flawed habits, the day that you become a great shooter will be right over the horizon.