Basketball Shooting Workouts and Practice Tips

By Jeff Haefner

To become a better shooter, you need to practice smart.  And just as important, you need some good basketball shooting workouts that actually make you better.  Too many players practice aimlessly without an intelligent plan.  You can get an edge on your competition by practicing smart and following a logical plan!

Here are a few important guidelines when you workout and practice shooting:

1 – Set goals based on number of shots (or makes), NOT time! 

Do you make this mistake? 

You could literally practice for an entire hour and only take 100 shots.  That’s not enough and you might be neglecting certain types of shots that are important.  If you just go to the gym with the idea that you’ll shoot for an hour, then you’ll discover that you waste a lot of time dribbling around.  You just don’t get in a good workout.

All the pros and great shooters set a goal for a certain number of shots, no matter how long it takes.  You can set your goals based on “makes” or “attempts”.  It’s really up to you.  It’s more challenging to base your workout on “makes”.  So if you’re looking for a challenge, that’s the way to go.

The key is to get to enough of shooting repetitions.  You should shoot at least a few hundred shots at each practice session.  Setting the right goal will help you get in the reps!

2 – Chart your progress. 

To improve your confidence, start charting all of the shots that you take in practice.  It’s easy to do and you’ll be absolutely amazed at how much it helps.

After every practice session, keep track of what kind of shots you took, the number of shots taken and the number of shots that you actually made.  Take the time to develop a basketball shooting chart, because it really helps.

3 – Work on each type of shot. 

When practicing, be sure to work on the following types of shots:

  • Shooting off of the “catch”
  • Shooting off of the “dribble”
  • Stepping into your shot from both directions (right and left foot).
  • Various ranges that are games like shots for you.
  • Shooting from a “jump-stop” (only if you have mastered the step-in technique or if your coach directs you to use a jump-stop motion).

4 – Go at Game Speed. 

If you don’t go at game speed in practice, then your shooting percentage in games will be lower than it should be.  If you have ever played, you will understand the actual speed of a game.

5 – Shoot game-like shots. 

Shooting game-like shots may be completely different for two people on the same team.  One player may take the majority of his shots flashing to the ball from anywhere within 12 feet of the hoop.  Another player may take the majority of his shots from 15 to 20 feet.  That’s why it’s important to meet with your coach and ask what type of shots you’ll take within the offense, so you know what you should practice.

6 – Gradually move back, working on all ranges.

Don’t neglect mid-range shots.  Too many players have holes in their game because they don’t practice mid-range shots.  Michael Jordan made a living off mid-range jump shots.

7 – Incorporate free throws into your routine. 

If you get winded, catch your breath by shooting a few free throws.  This is a good way to manage your time effectively.  You’ll get more done, in less time!

8 – Use chairs to help you practice footwork and simulate game-like conditions.

You can easily simulate game like situations (dribbling around defenders, running around screens, etc) by using chairs. 

If you have a partner, you can still use chairs.  The player shooting the basketball gets his own rebound and passes it back to the partner standing by the chair.  The partner places the ball on the chair.  The shooter continues the same pattern on the opposite side.  If the shooter misses, rebound the shot and finish with a lay up.

For more chair drills, see the basketball shooting drills in our full blown shooting course.

Example of a Good Basketball Shooting Workout

Here’s an example of a good basketball shooting workout… 

Polish mechanics and shooting form

At the beginning of your workout, you should focus on shooting form for a little while.  This will help to keep your mechanics from slowly drifting in the wrong direction. 

Spend about 4-5 minutes practicing the following:

  • Shoot the ball one-handed away from the basket (this can be to a partner, line on the floor, or spot on the wall).
  • Shoot the ball one-handed at the basket (up close, just two or three feet away)

Groove your shot to build confidence and positive mental images.

Of key importance is starting each and every workout with at least 50 shots close to the basket to groove your shot.  No matter what else you include in your routine, don’t leave these easy shots out! 

So, at this point, you should shoot using your normal two-handed grip (shot and balance hand) up close to the basket.  These are supposed to be easy shots.

Practice catching and shooting by stepping into the shot (pivoting)

Now you can gradually move back and work on various shooting situations.

Spin-flip the ball to yourself, as if you’re catching a pass and shooting.  Mix up shots from different angles and distances — top of key, right elbow, left baseline, etc.

  • Shoot 25, 8-foot jump shots, stepping in with left foot pivot.
  • Shoot 25, 8-foot jump shots, stepping in with right foot pivot.
  • Shoot 25, 12-foot jump shots, stepping in with left foot pivot.
  • Shoot 25, 12-foot jump shots, stepping in with right foot pivot.
  • Shoot 25, 16-foot jump shots, stepping in with left foot pivot.
  • Shoot 25, 16-foot jump shots, stepping in with right foot pivot.
  • Shoot 25, 18-foot jump shots, stepping in with left foot pivot.
  • Shoot 25, 18-foot jump shots, stepping in with right foot pivot.

Free throws

  • Shoot 50 free throws.

Practice shooting off the dribble
Instead of flipping the ball to yourself, you now take a couple of hard dribbles and pull up into your jump shot.

  • Shoot 10, 8-foot jump shots, dribbling to the right.
  • Shoot 10, 8-foot jump shots, dribbling to the left.
  • Shoot 10, 12-foot jump shots, dribbling to the right.
  • Shoot 10, 12-foot jump shots, dribbling to the left.
  • Shoot 10, 18-foot jump shots, dribbling to the right.
  • Shoot 10, 18-foot jump shots, dribbling to the left.

Free throws

  • Shoot 10 free throws.
  • Shoot 10 random jump shots
  • Shoot 10 free throws.
  • Shoot 10 random jump shots
  • Shoot 10 free throws.
  • Shoot 10 random jump shots
  • Shoot 10 free throws.
  • Shoot 10 random jump shots

With this routine, you shoot several hundred shots, including free throws, shots off of the “catch,” and shots off of your dribble.

Designing your own basketball shooting workout

There are hundreds of options when designing a routine.  Since every player is different and needs to emphasize different things, you should develop your own specific workout. 

Now it certainly helps to find a bunch of good workout examples to give you ideas.  And you can use those shooting workouts as a base to design your own.  But don’t just use a cookie cutter workout.  You’ll cut yourself short.  Start with some examples, then as you learn, start to design your own custom shooting workout.

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12 Comments

  1. Brian — September 25, 2008 @ 3:36 pm

    Lots of good information here. In workouts, I do every drill based on makes. However, I think the game speed depends on the level of the player. A player just learning his technique may need time to develop the technique before worrying about speed.

  2. Hope — October 11, 2008 @ 11:50 am

    I enjoyed your article. A lot of the information was useful and will be something that I will consider when I coach. The drills and highlights you pointed out are useful tips I wish I would have had in high school! Such as shooting and practicing at game speed. thanks

  3. Peter Robert Casey — November 3, 2008 @ 10:14 pm

    Great stuff. Ernie Hobbie and Dave Hopla would love it.

    -Peter Robert Casey

  4. binary — March 15, 2009 @ 10:04 am

    I think charting your progress is one of the most overlooked parts of developing your shot. If you aren’t able to accurately see the results of your efforts than how do you know you are doing it right? If something isn’t working you might want to focus on your forum a bit more. Good info!

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  6. Hector — May 3, 2010 @ 9:18 pm

    I have been doing this shooting routine for 3 weeks its a really good routine I really like it. I would like tips on how to actually speed up my release. On having a quicker release I have all the fundamentals down and also technique.

  7. christian — October 25, 2012 @ 2:06 am

    nice its good to make it in a daily practice. work hard to hard work to be a good shooter.

  8. christian — October 25, 2012 @ 2:07 am

    nice its good to make it in a daily practice.

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  10. LA Prince — December 11, 2013 @ 4:39 pm

    Great job! All your articles are fantastic. Love this. Thanks

  11. Emmanueldavid — December 31, 2013 @ 4:23 am

    Tank god hardwork pays i cn shoot 3points100 % freethrows 100% tank god i won d best 3point shooter 3times ds year went ahead to win the national division1 mvp 2013 hopin to win more wnt to ply basketbal to nba level need connection to coachies in usa thank you god bless

  12. Cletus — April 8, 2014 @ 8:58 am

    Shouldn’t everyone work in time to practice the shot from beyond half court that will be launched in the final 2 seconds of the game?

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