Beginner Shooting Progressions For All Ages

By Don Kelbick


What is the best way to have a kid progress shooting from a low position around the stomach or chest (i.e. push shot) to a position in which the ball is set higher with the arms/hands?


A lot depends on how old the kid is and whether he can comfortably reach the basket or not. The method I use is called “by the numbers.”

Start by sitting in a chair.

#1 – Hold the ball in front of you, by the seams, in the fingertips of the shooting hand.

#2 – Turn the ball and put it into a shooting tee. Hand under the ball, on the fingerpads, in the proper shooting position.

#3 – Shoot the ball as high in the air as possible while holding the follow through. The object is to have the ball return directly back into the shooting hand without having to move your hand to catch it. The only way to do that is to shoot it straight up.

Eventually, I will add a new #3, which is stand up (shooting the ball becomes # 4). Eventually, you will synchronize the body motion and the hand motion. After that happens, I will add the guide hand.

It is important to remember that it takes 3 times longer to break an old habit than to build a new habit. When frustrated or challenged, people invariably revert to what is comfortable to them, which is the old habit, so it will take a lot of repetitions. By removing the basket as an objective, players are more motivated to do the reps.


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  1. Bradley Smith — November 2, 2012 @ 8:40 pm

    How big of a ball should we use with a 6 year old? 8 Year Old? 10 Year Old?

  2. Rick Smith — April 29, 2013 @ 12:37 am

    You need Junior balls for the 6-8 year olds and 28.5 for 10 year old. Hope that helps.

  3. Rod Fiddelke — July 31, 2014 @ 12:30 pm

    This is an excellent answer!!!!!!! Laying on your back on the floor and tossing a ball and catching it also helps. The key is ” tossing” the ball from above the head straight up. I know we’re talking basketball here, but start with a ball that can be handled…… a volleyball or better yet a tennis ball. Almost all kids start shooting a ball that is to heavy and at a basket that is to high. As a result, they develope a “push” shot from the chest rather than a “toss” shot from above the head. As they get old they continue to push it because they want to make three pointers. Then in junior high the tough defenses appear and it becomes really tough to get the push off. The shot will eventually need to be tossed from over the head if the kid is going to be a scorer……and for young weaker kids this means a lighter ball and a lower basket. When younger and weaker kids play basketball with a light ball and a lower basket they will naturally start tossing the ball from above their heads. Later, add a jump to the toss and you have your jump shot…….take one step at a time!!!!!

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