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!

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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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Ken says:
3/5/2012 at 8:09:40 AM

Daniel -

Take a look at the top of the page, does that give you a good idea about what you should be doing?

THIS should answer your question as to where the ball should be on your hand

•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.
•Spread your fingers far enough apart to comfortably balance the ball in one hand.
•The ball should sit on your finger pads.


Do some form shooting against a wall... try this... take one dribble and bring the ball up with your shooting hand only... NO GUIDE HAND... that should help with your form a lot... shoot it with one hand too,

As for your fingers bending... you are talking about the release of the ball and the follow through...

FOLLOW-THROUGH


•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.

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daniel says:
3/5/2012 at 1:53:10 AM

Hi my name is daniel and i am wondering how exactly is the ball suppose too be on your hand when your gonna shoot which fingers are you suppose too use and do i have to let my fingers bend when i shoot?

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Ioane says:
3/1/2012 at 5:17:48 PM

Im tall and anyone says to me that im very good in basketball because of my body nature...

can u please give some advice becaues im just start playing basketball about 5 months and im very poor in shooting and moving into my enemies ring side (zone)

thx

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Ken says:
2/29/2012 at 5:40:51 PM

Chris -

I think you answered your own question.... smaller hands, ball is too big and the rim is too high for that age group.

If you can get a smaller ball and find a shorter rim.. you will have a better chance of helping them.... right now, most coaches would say, don't worry to much about shooting, they aren't strong enough to get the ball up there... some might be able to but the vast majority cant.

Teach them how to pass and catch the ball, how to dribble a little bit and then let them have fun.

Bog Bigelow has a great DVD on Coaching Youth Basketball. You might take a look at that. Good luck and have fun with the kids.

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Chris says:
2/29/2012 at 5:16:56 PM

I have been coaching older youth for nearly 14 years and now and am switching to a younger age group. How do I teach proper shooting form for 7-8 year old girls? If I try the above their hands are so small they have a hard time holding the ball and they also don't have the strength to come close to the rim.

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Ken says:
2/26/2012 at 8:16:00 PM

Bob -

Without seeing your shot it sounds like it is kind of flat. As you are releasing the ball your elbow should be around your eye/ear area.... There should be a nice "window" for you to look through.

You might need to use your legs a little more?

Are you leaning back ( fade away ) that could be another reason. I have seen some kids stick their butts out when they are shooting which results in a flat shot too.

Do some FORM shooting and then tell us what you see... or have someone else look at your shot and let you know if any of these are happening.

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Bob says:
2/26/2012 at 7:45:53 PM

When i shoot, my ball keeps on hitting the place where the rim meets the backbpard and just bounces off. Is it something wrong with my form or what??? Please help me

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johnathan says:
2/21/2012 at 3:00:12 PM

so easy

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Ken says:
2/18/2012 at 9:15:56 AM

Richie -

Being that you are 12 I think I wouldn't worry to much about the 3 ball.... I really think that the 3 ball has ruined the game for younger players...

I know everyone wants to dunk or hit the 2, I get it. But IF I am you I would work on my shorter game8 - 16 footers..... and when its windy, its hard for anyone to shoot successfuly (score) you can do everything right and the wind can take thae ball where IT wants it to go.

Keep working on your form... make your shot automatic by shooting the same way every time... what we call muscle memory. I had my players start their work out shooting with one hand.... to make sure their form was correct. Do a lot of form shooting - 100s/1000s and after you feel that your form is good ( good for you, something that you feel comfortable with and are successful with ) do some shooting... work in close at first... 6-7 feet, shoot 10 and when you are shooting 60% or better, step back a few feet and do that again. Keep doing that and that will show you where your range is. IF you have a hard time shooting 60%, step in a bit and try it again.

As for the 3 ball... is your form the same outside the arc as when you are at 15' or so?
AND, IF you want to work on your 3 ball, wait until its not so windy, you will have better results... but only shoot the 3 ball until you are shooting at around 605 inside the arc.

Don't worry about how high you jump, that will get better as you get older, bigger & stronger.
Good luck and IF you have any questions or need more help, feel free to reply to this.

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Richie says:
2/17/2012 at 7:20:50 PM

Dear Joe, i do sometimes struggle on shots because sometimes while doing it outside baecause of the wind and plus when im tryiny to put all my targets i always think beef(balance,eyes, elbow,follow through) which sometimes work and don't.it seems, hard to control when playing outside because of wind and every time im on the 3 pointer shot i always try to jump high but again the wind is preventing it from scoring how can i improve on this joe? help me i will be glad if you answer this. and by the way im 12 years old

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  1 reply  

Joe says:
3/20/2020 at 9:23:15 AM

Hey, kid, I can't answer that question but I can reply.

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