Form Shooting Drill

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Drill Purpose (All Ages)

This drill will improve shooting form and develop good shooting habits so once players get in a game, they will consistently use proper form without thinking about it. This simple drill is critical for youth player and can greatly improve shooting percentages for all types of players. All youth coaches should run this drill almost daily.

First of all, it's important to understand that this is drill requires you and all your players to pay very close attention to the details. It also requires a lot of repetitions. This is all about developing perfect shooting form, so once you get in a game you use the proper form without even thinking about it.

Note: For the first time around, you'll need to demonstrate proper technique to all your players.

Form shooting1 (8K)
  1. Each player needs to grab a basketball and find a basket. It works best to have three players (or less) at each basket. Two players on each side of the basket and one in front.

  2. Each player should stand about 2 feet from the basket. (Yes, it's only two feet. Do not stand farther back!)

  3. For right handed shooters, your right foot should be centered with the basket and pointing directly towards the middle of the basket.

  4. Your left foot should be positioned shoulder width apart in a comfortable position. Most players leave their left foot slightly behind the other foot. The left foot should be pointing in the relative area of the basket but probably should not be pointing directly at it. Most players feel the most comfortable with their left foot pointing just to the left of the basket.

  5. Bend your knees, at a comfortable angle somewhere around 45 degrees.

  6. Now if you're feet are aligned properly, the rest of your body should follow suit.

  7. Hold the ball in your hand, palm facing up. Your non-shooting hand can dangle to the side.

  8. Slowly bring the ball in and hold is as if you were shooting with one hand.

  9. Your arm should form a 90 degree angle.

  10. Your tricep should be parallel with the floor and directly above your right leg.

  11. Your wrist should be bent with fingers spread out. The ball should be sitting on your finger pads, NOT your finger tips.

  12. Your index finger should be in the center of the ball.

  13. Pause. This is when you make sure your arm, feet, and everything is in the correct form.

  14. Look at the front of the rim.

  15. Proceed to shoot with one hand, leaving your off hand to the side. The player should use his legs on every shot. At the end of the shot, the player should be up on his toes. This is very important, because players generate most of their strength from their legs to shoot the ball to the basket.

  16. Hold your follow through. Tell your players, "It's like reaching into a cookie jar."

  17. Grab the ball and repeat the process.

  18. Get the ball quickly but don't hurry your shot! Take your time.

  19. Each player should get a minimum of 20 repetitions, but 50 or 100 would be better.


As players master this skill, you can progress to other variations:

  1. Use two hands instead of one. Just make sure the off hand is one the side of the ball and not used to propel the ball.
  2. Do a jump shot. You should still stay two feet from the basket.
  3. Flip the ball to yourself, pivot, and shoot a jump shot. Again, stay close to the basket and make sure you proper form, even though you are going slightly faster. Do not sacrifice form!
For more advanced players, we commonly start with one-hand form shooting and progress all the way to pivots. We generally spend a few minutes on each progression and check all the players to make sure their form is not slipping.

Points of Emphasis

Continually tell your players...

  • Hold your follow through.
  • Take your time and always make sure your form is perfect.
  • Bend your knees.
  • Don't stand back too far! Stay just a couple feet from the basket.

Motivation / Teaching Tips

Tip #1 - Tell you players, "Once you get good at it, don't think you can stop. There are NBA players that do form shooting everyday!"

Tip #2 - Assign a coach to each basket to make sure they are using proper form. Help them correct any problems. If they don't do it properly, this drill is a waste of time.

Tip #3 - Make sure your players do NOT dip one shoulder or lean too far forward. When shooting, you want your players to have an erect torso. I like to use the phrase "shoot tall."

Tip #4 - If you as a coach, don't know all the aspects of proper shooting form, consider picking up a good shooting video. We covered the basics above but there are more things to look for, like hand placement on the ball and so on.

Recommended Training Materials & Resources:

Basketball Workout Plan App - 80+ Workouts Developed By NBA Skills Trainer

Baden 28.5" Shooting Basketball

Baden Heavy Training Basketball - 29.5'

Baden 35" Oversized Training Basketball

Rapid Fire - II - Basketball Rebounding/Return Device

Image: download free ebook with 72 of our favorite drills

What do you think? Let us know by leaving your comments, suggestions, and questions...


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David says:
2/19/2019 at 4:38:47 AM



Aarit says:
3/30/2017 at 8:29:21 PM

Breakthrough basketball is a really good website that teaches you a lot about basketball for beginners, intermediate, and pro players.


Rosiknator says:
1/19/2017 at 8:12:39 AM

this was very very gud


mae says:
7/26/2014 at 3:03:47 PM

Need help teaching my 8 yr ols daughter how to play basketball


Ken Sartini says:
5/29/2014 at 7:42:35 PM

bURK -

Rick Allison says:
3/14/2008 at 12:40:41 PM

I have found that doing this type of form shooting with a heavy ball (twice weight of a regulation ball) adds a bit of functional strength training to the shot release mechanics. However, I require that the shooter''s off hand be in its proper position on the side of the ball (but not touching the ball). This keeps the shoulders square and does not introduce a body position that does not naturally occur during shooting (i.e., arm at the side).

Everything should be focused on developing proper muscle memory. After a sequence of rotation through 5 spots around the basket, we move back two big steps (allow the off hand to be placed on the ball) and introduce some combination motion mechanics, such as, triple threat/shot fake/strong-side jab/shot...or, triple threat/shot fake/cross-jab/shot...or, triple threat/shot fake/strong-side jab/shot fake/cross-jab/shot. Focus is on efficiency of ball movement (i.e., straight-line movements), body positioning and motion mechanics. With the heavy ball this has the added benefit of working on some transverse functional strength movements.

I have found this short, heavy ball, near-basket shooting routine has helped to improve shooting range with proper mechanics. Made baskets during the heavy ball routine are secondary in importance to proper form and follow through.

Rick Allison
LoneStar Basketball Academy
[[[ C2E ]]]

Joe (Co-Founder of Breakthrough Basketball) says:
11/2/2007 at 11:44:41 AM
Hi JJ,

Yes, that is a good point and the hand is supposed to be relaxed. Coaches should point out the proper follow through and not rely on a kid’s wide interpretation of what “putting their hand in the cookie jar” might entail. The cookie jar is just a FUN ANALOGY to help kids remember to hold their follow through. You should also be careful about telling kids to have fingers spread apart. Instead, it should be a relaxed and comfortable follow through. Finger should not be too wide, and not too close together. A stiff follow through will result in a lower shooting percentage. The keyword here is “relaxed”.

This is why I used that terminology... to get my players to relax while they are shooting. and to shoot the ball the same way every time.


Ken Sartini says:
5/29/2014 at 7:32:04 PM

Burk -

As for their NOT being something called muscle memory take a look at this and Rick Allison's post. He is one of the great teachers of the game and he talks about MUSCLE MEMORY

Muscle Memory

Have you ever wondered how professional tennis players are able to put a serve right on the line time after tim? How about how a professional golfer is able to pull off pin-point shots with extreme consistency? Aside from intense focus, these athletes are using motor learning, also known as muscle memory. This is essentially teaching your muscles how to repeat movements or techniques over and over.

The theories that explained motor learning were developed at the beginning of the 20th Century. Dr. Edward Throndike was a pioneer in the study of motor learning and he conducted various experiments that showed subjects required very minimal training in completing tasks that were learned decades before. These experiments led Thorndike and other scientists to determine that learned motor skills are stored in the memory section of our brains.

We all use muscle memory techniques in our everyday life. Whether it be riding a bicycle, typing on a keyboard or entering a common password or pin number, we have taught our muscles to carry out these commands without putting much thought into them. It takes a great deal of practice and repetition for a task to be completed on a strictly subconscious level. For that professional tennis player or golfer it takes hundreds of hours of practice and repeated shots for the brain and muscles to perform at a world class level.

The process of adding specific motor movements to the brain’s memory can take either a short or long time depending on the type of movements being performed. When movements are first being learned, the muscles and other body controlling features (such as ligaments and tendons) are stiff and slow and can be easily disrupted if the brain is not completely focused on the movement. In order to complete the memorization, acts must be done with full attention. This is because brain activity increases when performing movements, and this increased activity must be fully centered on the activity being completed. Much of the motor learning in the brain is located in the cerebellum which is the part of the brain in charge of controlling sensory and cognitive functions.

Once actions are memorized by the brain, the muscles must be trained to act in a quick, fluid manner. This can be done in the gym, on the court, or other playing field. When athletes complete strength training exercises, they enhance the synapses in their muscles which increases the speed impulses travel from the brain through the nervous system to the muscles. This is key because it lowers the time between when the brain decides to complete a movement to when the muscles actually start to move. This allows tennis players to react to a hard serve or a golfer to adjust the club during his swing. When the perfect shot is carried out, the brain will begin to memorize what it felt like and use the timing of the improved synapses so the action can be repeated.When practicing, you will inevitably hit poor shots every once in awhile. This is where a good attitude comes into play. As stated before, muscle memory comes from focusing on a single action or movement. Unfortunately for some players, when you hit a bad shot, you will focus on this shot because bad shots are more emotionally charged than good shots. For your brain to memorize the good shots, you must attempt to look past the good shots and focus on what you do right on your great shots! If you do this, brain and muscles will be able to memorize what it feels like to hit a strong shot, and you will become a better player.

Muscle Memory

By: Kenny Morley, Ohio State University


Burk says:
5/29/2014 at 3:57:55 PM

Reply to Ken Sartini,
Your explanation makes no mention of science. Also, it is a well known fact that there is no such thing as muscle memory.
There really are no great shooters today. You mention nerves... Well, why not eliminate the nerves. There are 29 joints and 27 bones in each hand. Emphasis on the hand is counter intuitive to successful shooting. Eliminate those things and you don't have to spend the thousands of hours in the gym to develop the shot.
Foul shooting has not improved in over 50 years.
Guess you didn't take the time to watch one of the greatest shooters in the history of the game. No flicking by him, interesting?
Bernard King, it.


Burk says:
5/29/2014 at 3:48:20 PM

What is the purpose of "reaching into the cookie jar"?

It seems absolutely crazy to point your fingers down and away from the target. What is the scientific explanation behind it.

Logic would tell me this is an extra movement which would result in more misses. Golfers focus on having quiet hands so as not to have excess movement and causing them to miss putts.

This movement also seems to put much more spin on the ball causing the ball to bounce more and miss when the ball hits the rim. A scientist would look for the ball to be as soft as possible when hitting the rim. So what is the science behind extra spin? I don't see shooters putting more spin by flicking when they are close to the basket.
Also, flicking is an added movement that slows the shot and lowers the arc. A slow release is susceptible to being blocked and a low arc results in the ball hitting the front of the rim and then the back of the rim and bouncing out (not to mention the added spin it causes)

How has this become an accepted movement? especially when you consider that free throw shooting has not improved in over 50 years.
I would be willing to bet that an engineer or kinesiologist would frown on this extra movement. One's margin of error is 4.5", extra movements would seem to directly affect this margin of error in a negative fashion. So what is the scientific explanation of this "flicking" technique?


Ken Sartini says:
12/23/2013 at 2:12:12 PM

Burke ...

If you are going to be good at anything it takes work.. Whether it is basketball another sport or anything else that you do in life. When it comes to shooting you need to develop a good form where it becomes automatic or what we call muscle memory. This takes a lot of time you are correct.

Once you have developed that muscle memory you can stand at the free-throw line and make a pretty good percentage of them with your eyes closed. You just have to believe in yourself and the muscle memory.

Some of the greatest shooters in the game are the last ones to leave the gym at night. If you watch videos of some of the best at teaching kids how to shoot... You will see that they are all pretty much the same. Tom Nordland has a video on you tube with a 14-year-old boy who is almost automatic..... He worked with him for three years and that's what made him a good shooter.

I remember asking Don Kelbick why some pros have such a hard time shooting free throws. He said for the same reason that college players, high school and middle school players miss.....NERVES.


Burk says:
12/23/2013 at 6:59:53 AM

Where is science behind your instruction? This type of training explains why foul shooting has not improved in 50 years.
Your emphasis on the hand movements in the shot is baffling!
Your method relies on hours and hours of practice for someone to improve. There are no great shooters any more and this non-scientific approach only proliferates BernRd King in his hall of fame documentary. There is a shooter!


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