Proper Basketball Shooting Technique, Fundamentals, and Form

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It's often said that great shooters have a place on any team.

Even if you aren't blessed with tremendous speed, strength or athleticism, great shooting is one of the surest ways you can stand out on the basketball court.

If you spend the time developing and practicing your shot, it will pay off in:

  • Making the team
  • Getting more playing time
  • Scoring consistently
  • Feeling confident and having fun every time you step on the floor

Now, let me start with some good news!

Yes, you do need very good shooting form and technique to shoot consistently well.

But it does NOT need to be "perfect".

If you watch enough great shooters, you'll see that their form varies quite a bit based on what's comfortable (and what works) for them.

But almost all great shooters follow the principles I'll explain in this article. So keep reading for (all the good stuff)!

Stationary Basketball Shooting Form and Technique

In this section, we give you the raw form and mechanics of stationary shooting.

In other words, this section does NOT address the fundamentals of shooting on the move and more advanced footwork you'll need for game situations.

Here's a quick roadmap of the stationary shooting fundamentals that we'll be covering:

  1. Eyes on Target
  2. Stance and Balance
  3. Shot Pocket
  4. Grip
  5. Balance Hand
  6. Delivery
  7. Upforce and Landing
  8. Follow Through
  9. Correct Shot


EYES ON TARGET

shooting-fund-eyes (20K)
  • To improve accuracy, locate the target (rim) as early as possible.

  • Keep your eyes on the target and do not follow the flight of the ball.

  • Keeping your target focus is very important!


STANCE AND BALANCE

shooting-fund-stance (15K)
  • Feet are shoulder width apart for good balance.

  • Feet should be in a slightly staggered stance that is consistent and comfortable for you. Your shooting foot is slightly ahead of the non-shooting foot in a comfortable position.

  • Point your feet in the general direction of the basket, but not necessarily directly at it. We prefer an open stance, but you can also use the closed (squared) stance if that's more comfortable for you. With an open stance, your feet point towards one side of the basket. For example, a right handed shooter will point his or her feet just to the left of the rim for a more natural position and shooting motion.

  • Once you develop a comfortable stance, line up your feet the exact same way on every shot. Whatever stance you use, consistency is critical.

  • Flex/bend your knees on every shot.


SHOT POCKET

shooting-fund-pocket (13K)
  • As you catch the ball, move it quickly into the shot pocket.

  • Line everything up so the ball and your shooting eye form a straight line to the basket. This is VERY important.

  • Position the ball several inches above your waist.

  • Grip the ball properly and be ready to shoot.

  • Position the ball in your shot pocket the SAME way every time you catch it.


GRIP

  • Place the air hole between the middle and index fingers.

  • Line up your fingertip pads parallel to the long seams of the ball, so you can monitor the back spin.

  • Leave space between the ball and the middle of your palm. You should be able to insert a pencil between the ball and your palm area.

shooting-fund-grip1 (10K)
  • Spread your fingers far enough apart to comfortably balance the ball in one hand.

  • The ball should sit on your finger pads.

shooting-fund-grip2 (13K)



BALANCE HAND

  • Your non-shooting hand should be on the side of the ball.

  • Your balance hand should not add force or spin to the shot.

shooting-fund-balance-hand1 (13K)
  • Your non-shooting hand should not move on delivery and should ALWAYS come off the ball FIRST.

shooting-fund-balance-hand2 (13K)


DELIVERY

  • The ball should start motion directly upwards from the shot pocket.
  • Your elbow should be positioned comfortably under the ball.
  • The ball stays in front of you and should not go behind your head.
shooting-fund-delivery1 (13K)
 
  • Uncoil your body with your legs, core, and arm power all coordinated.
  • Your elbow and wrist should extend in a straight line to the basket.
shooting-fund-delivery2 (22K)
 
  • Your shooting hand should extend in a straight line to the rim.
  • Hand position on delivery is very important. The ball should come off the hand with perfect symmetrical backspin.
  • As shown in the picture to the right, your guide hand stays to the side and does not influence the flight of the ball.
shooting-fund-delivery3 (12K)
 

UPFORCE AND LANDING

shooting-fund-upforce (15K)
  • Release the ball on the way up, just before the top of your jump.
  • Use your legs to generate upforce.
  • You should land in the same spot that you jumped, which shows that you have good balance on your shot.
shooting-fund-upforce2 (17K)

FOLLOW-THROUGH

shooting-fund-follow-through (19K)
  • Your wrists should be floppy (relaxed).
  • Fingers should be pointed at the target (rim).
  • Finish high. You should see your fingers at the top square of the back board.
  • Hold your follow through position until the ball hits the rim.

NOTE: If you’d like specially-designed workouts for shooting and scoring, download our FREE Breakthrough Shooting Workout. It includes over 30 drills you can do by yourself or with a partner — all you need is a ball and a hoop!

Click here to get your FREE Shooting Workout.

Related Products & Helpful Resources

Basketball Shooting Camps

Free Basketball Shooting Workouts

Basketball Workout App - Shooting Workouts, Guard Play Workouts, Post Workouts, etc.




Comments

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Sylvia says:
12/3/2022 at 10:22:17 AM

I started practicing my shooting recently, and I am a absolute beginner at shooting. I never learned the proper shooting form before, so I was pretty much just using my strength to shoot. I recorded myself making shots and realized that my left hand, which was supposed to guide the ball, always drops when I am halfway shooting. My right hand looks like it is okay, but my shots are extremely inconsistent because of my left hand. When I tried to bring both arms up to shoot, I shot even worse than before, because it felt very unnatural. Is there a way that I can feel natural bringing up my left hand to guide the ball? My left hand always seems to be getting in the way when I am shooting...

Like
  1 reply  

Sylvia says:
12/3/2022 at 10:25:14 AM

Just to clarify, I am actually not sure if I am shooting properly with my right hand as well, I just noticed that on every single one of my shots (from recordings), my left arm always drop halfway...

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RD says:
10/18/2022 at 6:35:16 PM

Hi, thank you for the great tips and advice. Been playing ball for a long time including high school varsity team back in the late 80s.

Some experts say that after the shot release that your elbow should be at or slightly higher than eye level. I was never taught to do this but this technique sounds correct b/c I assume it's to improve the ball arc trajectory so it's not flat.

With that said, I feel like I'm making a conscious effort to try and release at a higher point since naturally all these years, I believe my elbow is lower than eye level after shot release.

Should I try to correct where the elbow should be so it's at eye level after release of the ball?

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  1 reply  

RD says:
10/18/2022 at 10:13:37 PM

Elaborating further… trying to get the elbow at eye level after my release just doesn’t feel natural bc I actually have to think about doing it

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Caleb says:
10/16/2022 at 8:35:19 PM

HI! whenever I shoot it, it veers right. I think my right hand isn't shooting straight. Why is that?

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  1 reply  

Barb says:
10/17/2022 at 9:24:15 AM

Hi Caleb,

It would be hard to pinpoint that without seeing what you are doing but take a look at this article it may help you figure out why your right hand isn't shooting straight.

https://www.breakthroughbasketball.com/fundamentals/shooting-drills.html

We also have a fantastic product called Breakthrough Shooting & Scoring System with Jim Huber. A fantastic product that will perfect the best mechanics for your body type, develop proper hand placement, master essential footwork. If you are interested in becoming a great shooter.

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Johnny says:
8/9/2022 at 4:39:28 PM

Im an experienced shooter. I’m having issues with my release, specifically snapping my right wrist and locking my elbow. I tend to miss left and I struggle with my arc. The ball continues to roll off my right pinky finger and I’m struggling to release at a 45 degree angle. My wrist is turning to the right rather straight over my forearm. I’m focusing on my middle finger on the valve and middle of the ball. My thumb and pinky finger are gripping the opposite sides of the ball like train tracks. I tend to bring the ball over my right eye. Let me know if you have some thoughts on fixing my release, wrist and elbow. Thanks

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  1 reply  

Jeff Haefner says:
8/19/2022 at 7:24:22 AM

If you tend to miss to the left, start with form shooting and getting back spin on the ball. Just focus on following through every time, getting some backspin on the ball, and shooting straight (no to little missing left or right). Use the drills here:
https://www.breakthroughbasketball.com/fundamentals/shooting-drills.html

Start with step 1 and 2. Do those every day for weeks until you get really good technique. Then keep progressing to additional steps.

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Hrithik says:
6/6/2022 at 1:06:31 PM

Hey Jeff so i have a pretty good form and have been consistent in my shots a few weeks ago and then i gave a slight adjustment to my release timing and grip position and everything else started falling apart. So what do i do to gain a perfect form. My finger release is mostly i think my middle.
i still try to postion with my old form and compare it with the new one and now none of my shots are going in?(i am 6'1 and 185 pounds)

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  1 reply  

Barb says:
6/8/2022 at 8:22:54 AM

Good Morning Hrithik,
Thanks for the feedback and reaching out. Below are a few articles I found on building shooting confidence and maybe guidance with breaking your slump. Hope it helps.

https://www.breakthroughbasketball.com/fundamentals/shooting/fix-guide-hand.html

https://www.breakthroughbasketball.com/fundamentals/shooting/overcome-shooting-slumps.html

https://www.breakthroughbasketball.com/fundamentals/shooting-confidence.html

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Ethan says:
5/26/2022 at 11:26:47 PM

I''m 5''2 97 pounds and I play point guard in 8th grade my shooting is decent but I don''t normally use it in games and I am trying to develop it. However, I can''t find the confidence to take more shots, what should I do? Also do you know any good AAU teams in the Bay Area?


Thanks in advance,

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William says:
5/4/2022 at 4:09:30 PM

I am a 7th grader 6'2 275 and play center on my basketball team people say I am one of the worst shooters on the team and I know It is true I have made a change with my form where I am starting to shoot with my non shooting elbow out but keeping my shooting hand and arm straight under the ball I am doing better but I am still missing How do I make that stop.

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  1 reply  

dipson says:
5/18/2022 at 5:05:13 AM

practice makes perfect

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Raghav says:
3/9/2022 at 9:37:29 PM

Hello Coach Jeff,
I am 13 years old and I am currently 5'2 and weigh 100 lbs. I currently a point guard for my team. I usually score points in games by finishing with layups. Recently I've been getting blocked very often by taller defenders, so i started working on my shot, something I haven't before now. I have practiced my mechanics and shot of the dribble and used the 5 spot shooting drill for practice. My problem is that when I take a shot, my shot usually ends up going into the basket but bouncing off the rim. Thats what happens when I go for swishes, it does not happen when i use the backboard to make my shot. Should i use the backboard in my shots from now on. Can you also help me figure out why my shot is bouncing off the rim.

Thank you in advance

Like
  1 reply  

TOrey says:
3/29/2022 at 2:10:25 PM

I would have to see a video. If the ball its bouncing left or right off the rim that could be a lot of things but mainly your elbow isn't underneath the ball and your probably chicken winging it.

Like
   


Raghav says:
3/9/2022 at 9:37:27 PM

Hello Coach Jeff,
I am 13 years old and I am currently 5'2 and weigh 100 lbs. I currently a point guard for my team. I usually score points in games by finishing with layups. Recently I've been getting blocked very often by taller defenders, so i started working on my shot, something I haven't before now. I have practiced my mechanics and shot of the dribble and used the 5 spot shooting drill for practice. My problem is that when I take a shot, my shot usually ends up going into the basket but bouncing off the rim. Thats what happens when I go for swishes, it does not happen when i use the backboard to make my shot. Should i use the backboard in my shots from now on. Can you also help me figure out why my shot is bouncing off the rim.

Thank you in advance

Like
   

Raghav says:
3/9/2022 at 9:37:25 PM

Hello Coach Jeff,
I am 13 years old and I am currently 5'2 and weigh 100 lbs. I currently a point guard for my team. I usually score points in games by finishing with layups. Recently I've been getting blocked very often by taller defenders, so i started working on my shot, something I haven't before now. I have practiced my mechanics and shot of the dribble and used the 5 spot shooting drill for practice. My problem is that when I take a shot, my shot usually ends up going into the basket but bouncing off the rim. Thats what happens when I go for swishes, it does not happen when i use the backboard to make my shot. Should i use the backboard in my shots from now on. Can you also help me figure out why my shot is bouncing off the rim.

Thank you in advance

Like
   

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