Techniques for Improving Shooting Skills

In the past, conventional wisdom – with regards to coaching basketball – was that good shooters are born, not made.

It was thought that certain players simply had a natural talent for shooting, and that their less gifted peers could not be taught how to do the same.

Nonetheless, this theory has been challenged in recent years.

Most modern coaches now believe that almost anyone can learn how to shoot — providing they receive proper training in the fundamentals, and complete the necessary practice and drills.


Here are three vital techniques that all aspiring players should master:


Grasping the Ball Correctly

You should grasp the ball with both hands, but use the hand you shoot with to move the ball forwards.

Avoid shooting with two hands.

The hand you shoot with is a ‘base’, and this ought to be beneath the ball while your wrist is angled back.

Bend your elbow at right angles beneath the ball (rather than adjacent to it).

Your other ‘guiding’ hand should help to keep the ball balanced, without playing any role in the shot itself.

In fact, this hand ought to leave the ball, prior to the point at which you let go of it.

This way, you can ensure that you shoot with your strongest hand alone.

Grasp and let go of the ball with the tips of your fingers, rather than your palms.

To gauge the proper ‘base’, hold out the arm you shoot with palm upwards, and allow the ball to rest on your hand.

Then, in a single movement, twist your forearm, hand and wrist upwards and outwards beneath the ball, while bending your elbow, until the ball sits on your hand over your right shoulder, and your wrist is angled backwards.

Your shoulder serves as a ‘hinge’, and your elbow should be pointed towards the hoop.

The arm and forearm should form an ‘L’ shape (viewed from the side of the shooting arm).

The thumb of your shooting hand ought to point upwards to the left, at roughly a forty-five degree angle (for shooters who are right handed).

The elbow will fall beneath the ball naturally.

Take care not to point your thumb to the left and put it beneath the ball too far, because this can cause your elbow to spring outwards.

Positioning Your Feet

Stand with your feet the same distance apart as your shoulders.

Bend your knees slightly, to give your quadriceps some leverage for the shot.

Right handed shooters should place their right feet forward slightly.

If you shoot right-handed, your right foot should be slightly forward, with your weight on the balls of both feet, rather than your heels.

Experiment to see whether you are more comfortable with your body and shoulders square on to the hoop, or whether you prefer the side with the ball turned slightly towards the hoop.

Handling the Ball Before you Shoot

If you shoot with your right hand, with your feet and shoulders square on to the hoop, hold the ball on the right hand side of your face, pointing slightly towards your right shoulder.

Do not line up the ball in the middle of your face, because this might make your wrist supinate (turn sideways) and cause your shooting elbow to spring out from your body when the ball is released — creating a sidespin.

Then again, if you prefer to shoot while your body is turned towards the shooting side, you can position the ball more in the middle of your face.

Once again, experiment to see what is most comfortable for you.

The ball ought to be at least the height of your forehead, to make it more difficult for your opponents to block the shot.

However, avoid cocking the ball behind your head or back over it, because this causes a ‘slinging’ movement which flattens the shot.

If you are young, you might not be strong enough to hold the ball this high.

Therefore, you should try holding it below your shoulder to generate extra power.

When you physically mature and gain in strength, you can adjust this as appropriate.

Final Thoughts

To shoot well, you need everything to flow together seamlessly.

Therefore, you should relax your joints and muscles, so that your main limbs can operate loosely and freely.

Sometimes, it can be difficult to relax when shooting, if you are fretting about whether you will miss the shot.

To remedy this, concentrate on performing the ‘correct actions’ linked to shooting, rather than whether you will miss or score.

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