Learning how to shoot a basketball is one of the first things players do, or at least think they do, when they start playing the game. That is a big problem and more than likely a problem that is keeping you from becoming the type of shooter that you dream of being. Here’s the deal: players often pick up bad habits when they are just starting out because they are inexperienced and aren’t ready to grasp the fundamentals.
So, I have some bad news, some good news, and some even better news. First, the bad news. Bad habits are extremely hard to break and often stay with players for years without them even knowing it. I’ll bet you have some bad shooting habits that you don’t even realize are a part of your shot. Now the good news: good habits are hard to break too! That is, once you develop those good habits. Ready for the even better news? I am going to give you some super secret tips that have been proven successful with many coaches and many players for how to shoot a basketball in a way that develops winning habits.
Super Secret Tip #1 for how to shoot a basketball. Shooting a basketball correctly, takes A LOT of CORRECT practice. Notice the emphasis on both “a lot” and “correct.” You can practice a lot, but if you don’t practice with correct fundamentals, you actually will get worse because the habits you are building will be the wrong ones. It takes about 21 practice sessions to form the proper habits. Then, it takes consistent practice to keep your habits the way you want them.
Super Secret Tip #2 for shooting a basketball. A lot of shooting is mental—that is believing in yourself. Confidence has helped many shooters with average technique be very good. A lack of confidence also holds players back who have great technique, but who don’t believe in themselves or get overly nervous when it is time for them to shoot.
Super Secret Tip #3 for great shooters. There are a lot of things to learn about being a good shooter, but the three most important ones are shooting the ball straight, having backspin (not sidespin), and developing a consistent arc.
Shooting the ball straight
If you shoot the ball straight, it has a chance to hit the front or back of the rim and go in. If you miss to the left or right, you don’t have the opportunity to get that “shooter’s roll.” To get the ball straight on your shot, your shooting foot (right leg for right handed shooters, and left leg for left handed shooters) shooting arm, and the fingers on your shooting hand should be pointed directly at the basket both when you start your shot and after you have released the ball. When you are practicing, check yourself at the start of your shot to see if everything is in line. It is just as important to check yourself at the end of your shot. Freeze yourself after releasing the basketball and check your finger, arm, and foot alignment.
Consistent Backspin on your shot does three things. One, it helps the ball to go straight. Two, concentrating on creating a perfect backspin forces your hand to follow through correctly. The final benefit to having a perfect backspin is that it helps when you do hit the rim (but only long or short, never left or right—remember?) it gives you a softer shot that might roll around the rim and fall in. That is what people are referring to when they talk about someone who gets “that shooters’ roll.”
You can fit two men’s basketballs in a hoop at the same time, so the basket is plenty big enough for your shots to go in. Shooting with an arch that is not too high and not too low is the key. There are devices that measure your arch, but as a basic rule for you to measure yourself, your arch should be higher than the square on the backboard, but lower than the top of the backboard on most of your shots. To judge what kind of arch you have, ask someone else to watch you shoot.
Note: You should not watch the flight of the ball because that forces you to tilt your head and throws off your balance. Your eyes should be focused on the eyelet of the rim that is directly in front of you. Eyelets are the rungs on the rim that are used to hang the net.
No matter how good you get, you should always spend some time going back to the fundamentals of how to shoot a basketball before every practice and game. Spend five to ten minutes every time working on your fundamentals of keeping the ball straight with a good backspin, and the proper arc. And, never, ever, ever lose confidence in your abilities!