Three Components Of A Quick Release

How Stephen Curry & Melissa Dixon
Use Them To Their Advantage

By Shooting Coach Rick Penny

Does It Matter?

Does having a quick release really matter? Ask any defender and their response to that question is a resounding YES!

Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors and Melissa Dixon of the Iowa Hawkeyes are the best two examples of players with quick shots. In fact, you won’t find two quicker shooters in today’s game.

All they need is a small opening and their shot is off. Why? They have efficient shooting strokes. From the moment they catch the ball on up to the release point, there is little to no wasted movement. In the blink of an eye the ball is gone!

They Are Different

So many young players today want a “Stephen Curry” shot. I hear it all the time. All you have to do is watch him play to realize there is something unique about the way he shoots. He’s unlike the typical NBA or College player when it comes to shooting mechanics.

Same can be said for Melissa Dixon. Take one look at her shot and instantly you know it’s special. The quickness of her release and the efficiency in which she catches and shoots is amazing! If she played on national TV like Curry, players would be saying they want a “Melissa Dixon” shot.

It’s All About Technique

Neither Curry nor Dixon is the most gifted athlete in their sport. They can’t out run, out quick, or out jump the majority of players they go up against plus they’re average in height.

So, how do they do it?

It’s all about technique! They each possess a shot that allows for a quick & smooth release. Efficiency throughout the shooting process is their secret!

What kind of technique do they have? It’s a One Motion or one-piece shot. Each has their own way of doing it, but after breaking down their mechanics, it’s easy to see they share a common trait which is: non-stop movement up the shot line from start to finish.

Three Components

1. READY POSITION - This is the first component of a quick release. It's what starts the process and far too many shooters overlook its importance ... much to their detriment. Three factors come into play:

  • Mental preparation prior to the arrival of the ball

  • Body in a good athletic position with knees flexed

  • Hands up ready to catch the pass

A good Ready Position enables a player to quickly arrive at SET with good balance. Standing upright takes longer and delaying even a few tenths of second matters greatly when trying to get the shot off. Curry and Dixon are always ready to shoot. Body language says it all. Their minds are engaged and their bodies are positioned well to receive the pass.

2. QUICKLY GETTING TO SET - After catching the pass, players must quickly get to SET. Shooters anticipate the pass and once the ball arrives, with as little movement as possible, they're at SET (the foundation of the shot) and into their shooting motion. The quicker you get to SET; the quicker you can shoot. How to arrive at SET is an article unto itself, but suffice it to say ... Curry and Dixon do it extremely well!

3. SHOOTING MOTION - The final component is the shooting motion itself. There is much debate on which technique is best and that decision is entirely up to you.

As stated earlier, Curry and Dixon have One Motion shots. Their release is what sets them apart from all others. Both have a quick, smooth, and very efficient shooting process from start to finish. They arrive at SET and immediately take the ball on a path that is UP and AT the basket vs. looping the ball up & back before starting the ball towards the basket ... valuable time is lost here!

S-Curve (Shooting Curve)

An S-Curve shows the ball path as seen from the shooting hand side. It determines how efficient the shooting motion is. It locates areas where momentum slows and where time is lost.

Below are the S-Curves of Stephen Curry and Melissa Dixon. Both are very efficient and extremely quick, but vary slightly.

The S-CURVE begins at SET and ends at the RELEASE POINT

Stephen Curry

1. Ball starts near waist level (SET)
2. Travels non-stop up the shot line

Melissa Dixon

1. Ball starts at chest level (SET)
2. Travels non-stop up the shot line

You can see that Dixon's S-Curve is the more efficient of the two because Curry starts the ball a little lower at SET and then loops the ball up & back ever so slightly. Dixon's ball takes the most direct path to the basket.

Curry's release was timed at .4 seconds by Sports Science (average NBA release time is .54 seconds). That means Curry's ball travels 12' in the air before the average NBA player ever gets the ball out of his hand ... amazing!

It would be interesting to have Sports Science test Melissa! Based on her S-Curve and watching game footage of both, I believe she has a quicker release time than Curry. Remember, the more efficient the S-Curve; the quicker the release.


Players today would do well to improve the efficiency of their shooting stroke. Tenths of seconds really do matter ... just look at Stephen Curry and Melissa Dixon as testaments to what a quick release can accomplish.

The S-Curve tells the whole story of what takes place during the shooting motion. Look for areas in your own S-Curve where momentum slows and valuable time ticks away.

We can't all be exactly like Curry or Dixon, but if you incorporate the three principles found in their techniques, you too can have a Quick Release!

Related Pages & Helpful Resources

One Motion Shooting Videos
The Quickest & Most Accurate Shooting Release in College Basketball - Melissa Dixon Shooting Technique

What do you think? Leave your comments below...


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Priyam Turakhia says:
11/9/2020 at 2:13:15 PM

Where do you find the NBA average release time? Is there a database?


Matt Kuykendall says:
5/24/2020 at 9:47:28 AM

Coaches, I''m sorry but you''re wrong about teaching an approach to shooting that removes dip rhythm. In particular, the assertion stated in the article that, "Curry and Dixon have One Motion shots...They arrive at SET and immediately take the ball on a path that is UP and AT the basket" is straight up wrong (see video below).

The best shooters in the game dip the basketball; no debate. Ray Allen even dipped on his iconic corner shot with time winding down and a 6''8 player closing out on him!

If you don''t believe me, check out the video below and hopefully it will make you adjust your conception of what a good shot off the pass looks like!


Rick Penny says:
2/12/2016 at 6:01:24 PM

Dr. J''s Stuff,

I agree with your scenario, but most coaches/parents don''t understand how to correct this widespread common issue. If they did, more players would not take the ball down (dip) before shooting.

Education is the key! There is an alternative to the "dip" that allows for a quicker/smoother release and it all starts with the ball location at the SET position.

The SET position of One Motion provides more than enough power and makes the overall shooting process "feel" better.

Rick Penny
Shooting Coach


Dr. J's Stuff says:
2/11/2016 at 10:51:57 PM

Extremely interesting. Maybe we don't spend enough time understanding the mechanics of sporting movement, or teaching it?

My biggest issue (I work with U 12s and U14s, even younger beginners) is spotting & correcting the shooters who want to take the ball down first. They catch at correct position, then take it down towards the knees, bring it back up, then shoot! Each kid needs to be watched closely and individually every time!


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