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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Bemni says:
8/31/2020 at 11:02:49 AM

I always practice my shot but I don''''t improve, is there a reason why??? I also want to know how to ark the ball better without left to right misses.

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  1 reply  

Eli says:
9/24/2020 at 5:45:45 PM

Try sweeping your legs forward as your shoot so you land slightly in front of where you started. That will naturally angle your arms up slightly and give your shot more arc

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Liam Alling says:
8/27/2020 at 9:29:03 PM

Hi I’m liam I’m tall and have been playing basketball for a couple years the only thing that I can’t fix or that isn’t good is my jump shot I have a problem of shooting the ball on the way down of my jump shot or in other words after the peak of my jump can you help me fix this and tell me what to do.

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  1 reply  

Daniel Generson says:
8/27/2020 at 11:47:23 PM

To fix this try to shoot earlier than you normally would. If that does not work then keep trying until you get it once and remember how long it was approximately and try that.

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The1 says:
8/26/2020 at 5:13:48 PM

I am used to using two hands near the middle of the ball... How do I adjust the form and be comfortable with it? It feels slightly clumsy causing me to miss shots only because I move to the left or right...

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  1 reply  

Jeff Haefner says:
8/27/2020 at 9:03:18 AM

Practice lots of "form shooting" to correct the habit. Take your time when doing form shooting, making sure your guide hand stays still. After completing your 1 hand form shooting, you can start place your guide hand next to the ball so you don't touch it. Try this routine:
https://www.breakthroughbasketball.com/fundamentals/shooting-drills.html

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Ethan Ekstrand says:
8/23/2020 at 12:17:37 AM

I’m really trying to perfect my form at the moment, I feel like everything is getting better except this one problem I have. The problem is that whenever I shoot I tend to arch my back backwards and it takes away a lot of power.

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  1 person liked this. 1 reply  

Jeff Haefner says:
8/27/2020 at 9:01:38 AM

Practice lots of form shooting to correct the habit. Try this routine:
https://www.breakthroughbasketball.com/fundamentals/shooting-drills.html

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Jonas says:
7/21/2020 at 12:44:04 AM

I’ve been form shooting a lot, and consistently hitting my shots, but when I’m playing a pickup game, my form breaks down A LOT. It’s been getting better over the past couple weeks, but I wanna know what I’m doing wrong exactly. It’s really good when shooting, but not playing. How do I fix this?

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  1 reply  

Coach Pete says:
7/25/2020 at 4:33:05 PM

If you are not already, try practicing at full speed. Many times form breaks down when you go to game speed. Additionally, you may psychologically be bothered by having a player in front of you or coming out at you. Get a teammate or friend to play defense in front of you, simulating a game experience. Hope this helps.

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Sa''id says:
6/7/2020 at 6:18:53 PM

And please I wanna know how my thumb should be when am releasing or dribbling with the ball.
Infact if am in contact with the ball.

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  1 reply  

steven hanes says:
7/20/2020 at 7:28:42 PM

you should place your thumb inside the basketball.

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Sa'id says:
6/7/2020 at 5:57:12 PM

Hi anytime I shoot the basketball the ball moves to the left it doesn''''t move straight .

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  1 reply  

Andrew says:
8/6/2020 at 10:11:28 PM

Hello Sa'id. Your shot is moving to the left because your elbow is not lined up to the rim. Try tucking your elbow in, closer to the center of your body so it goes straight up with the wrist and release of the ball even with the rim. You must have your elbow inward from the beginning of the shot so it always maintains a straight line to the rim.

Also, look at your wrist and fingers and see where they end up from beginning to end. They should be pointing into the rim.

One last thing is sometimes when we don't have enough power we try to push the ball too much, which makes it curve from the right side to the release on the left side of our body. A quick fix for this is to practice getting more power from our legs by bending them more and then following through like a cannon shot all in one motion starting with the ball close to our waist and then a high release right above and in front of our head. Again, every thing must be centered on the rim target.

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Kingsley Doe says:
6/2/2020 at 5:38:16 AM

It''s nice ,and I want to play basketball


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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.

Like
   

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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  2 replies  

johnathon says:
4/14/2020 at 11:18:35 AM

The basketball should be able to rest on its pads, not on the palm. If you shoot the ball like that with the ball on the palm, you lose aim and accuracy. Make sure to use your finger pads when shooting to maintain control and direction when the ball flies toward the rim. Also your fingers should be able to bend in a gooseneck-like form for the proper follow through. This is very important in shooting a basketball.

Like
   

johnathon says:
4/14/2020 at 11:18:50 AM

The basketball should be able to rest on its pads, not on the palm. If you shoot the ball like that with the ball on the palm, you lose aim and accuracy. Make sure to use your finger pads when shooting to maintain control and direction when the ball flies toward the rim. Also your fingers should be able to bend in a gooseneck-like form for the proper follow through. This is very important in shooting a basketball.

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