Basketball Shooting Tips – What Part of The Rim To Focus On & The Guide Hand

By Don Kelbick

Question 1:

Do you focus on the front, middle, or back of the rim?


My teaching methods are a bit “out of the box” (non-traditional) and not everyone takes to it. I will answer you questions the best that i can, relating to the methods that have been successful more me but I don’t know if they are the answers you are looking for.

I do not teach target. I believe that shooting is a kinesthetic skill, not a visual one. I believe you shoot by feel, not by sight. I often teach players to shoot with their eyes closed. I want them to concentrate on form and feel, not whether it goes in or not. Given enough repetitions, they learn to adjust their feel for distance. I can routinely make 80% from the foul line with my eyes closed. That is based on that the monstrous amount of repetitions I have had in my life. I don’t expect young players to do that but it serves as a good illustration. Pro players routinely shoot for a higher percentage than I do. The direction of flight is determined by your follow through. Just follow through straight at the rim. To be more traditional, why not aim for the hole? Isn’t that where you want the ball to go?

Question 2:

Where is the guide hand placed exactly? Do the fingers and the thumb point up in the air or to the rim when holding the ball/releasing?


When I teach shooting early in the process, I teach it 1 handed with no guide hand. Once we add the guide hand, I usually stress comfort. As long as the ball is steady and and your guide hand doesn’t interfere with the ball and shooting mechanism, you can place it however it is comfortable for you, as long as it is the same every time.

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  1. Jeremy — June 23, 2009 @ 10:08 am

    Great comment FTA “Why not aim for the hole? Isn’t that where you want the ball to go?”

    I agree 100% people try to make shooting way too complicated – almost like a golfers do their golf swing. Tom Nordland has the best advice IMO regarding simplicity and consistency.

  2. Jeremy C — June 25, 2009 @ 10:01 am

    Shooting has become too complicated and everyone has their own opinion. What feels right for some may not be the best way for all. Proper stance and follow through are universal. The rest should be up to the player!

  3. Ethan M — July 8, 2009 @ 1:52 pm

    The NBA players seem to vary in what they do with their guide hand. E.g., Ray Allen’s guide hand kind of goes out to the side a little as he releases so that his shooting arm and guide hand arm form an angle with each other after the releaase. Others I see have the shooting arm and guide hand arm end up parallel to each other on the release. The one thing that seems to be constant amongst them all is that the guide hand arm extends (to at least some degree) to the point the shooting hand releases the ball.

  4. danny95207 — January 1, 2011 @ 1:23 pm

    never heard that we should start throwing the ball with one hand first then we use the guide hand . I think it is great advise then.

  5. Jukka Mantere — February 10, 2015 @ 9:27 am

    Like in the Wild West?
    True is that when you teach them in early to have the ball up in one hand, they do have to aim the the target. They may close their eyes after that, but the aiming is over there already. I thing all of us teach the one hand close the basket with the arch over the rim.
    In all fundamentals the way you take/grab the bb into your hand tells how quick and accurate you are in the next move – shot-pass-penetration.

    What ever we do in shooting we do shoot today in one hand, we even pass mostly with one hand, but still when in traffic we do have to cover the basketball. Juniors of today are missing a lot of layup to day, front rim or even pure blocks – no foul shots.

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