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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Brycen Sheridan says:
3/4/2021 at 9:05:27 PM

I notice that my footwork skills need some fine tuning. I cant juke as fast as others, and I cant seem to lose the defender thats on me and end up having to shoot a fadeaway 99% of the time. Any tips on how to work on this issue? Thnaks.

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Coach Salas says:
2/24/2021 at 10:23:48 AM

Hey breakthrough basketball.For black history month i made my players pick a player that they wanted to be like in the Nba for just Febuary. I have one player that wants to be like Kevin Durant.He can shoot the piss out of the ball but cant hit a left handed layup for his life.His layup on the left side isn''t natural and he always has to make sure he is in the right spot.Another kid wanted to be like LeBron but he cant hit a 15 foot jumper if the rim was a foot high.He shoots if with one hand and his guide hand but he pushes the ball straight with no arc whatsoever. And the last kid wanted to be like Dywane Wade but can''t even get a fadeaway jumper to hit the rim.All of them are 12 year olds. What should i do since this is a absouloute mess?

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Biggy says:
4/7/2021 at 1:51:02 AM

Teach them how, dummy

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LowkeyCurry says:
4/8/2021 at 2:44:31 PM

I would try and teach them and not roast them to pieces on a basketball website, if your the coach its your job to show them and guide them on what to do not a website. If teaching your players is too hard or frustrating for you consider resigning. :)

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Jamal Jones says:
2/9/2021 at 2:46:53 PM

Hey Jeff

I have been shooting great recently.On a ten foot rim we have no backboard.Its hard to get the ball into the basket since I can't indicate when I shoot.The ball will hit the backboard and will roll out the rim.I have range and everything.I can create space from a defender and break them too.Open shots bounce off the rim.I have some stats on paper of what i"m like with shooting.Here they are.

Finishing

Layups 82%
Floaters 69%
Standing layups92%

Shooting

Close jumpers 81%
Mid range shots 67%
Three point shots 23%

I'm like Dwight Howard shooting threes (I only made 18 threes in a real game out of 1 year.

I need help knocking down open threes and some mid range shots because i am great at getting some space.Please Respond as soon as possible with the answer.Thanks.

From-
13 year old.
Point guard/Shooting guard

Pass First point guard and finishes out the rim but doesn't have a shot.Short(5'2) with a high basketball IQ

Thanks Jeff hope you respond.

Jamal Jones

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  1 reply  

Jeff Haefner says:
2/10/2021 at 12:29:26 PM

That's really good info, strong stats and a great foundation to work from. To improve your 3s, it sounds like it's most likely one of three things...

1) You might just need time to get older, bigger and stronger. Your midrange % is very good but there's a huge drop off from 3s. So it sounds to me like it's a size/strength issue which is fairly common. You have to use more muscles and strain to get the ball there, which adds more variables and lowers accuracy. Time, patience and strength training will fix that problem.

2) Do you shoot different from 3s versus 2s? In other words, do you change your shooting technique to compensate for the distance and get the ball there when shooting from long distance? That could be the issue.

3) Your shooting technique could have big energy leaks and/or not transfer energy in an efficient way. For example, if you try to jump, hang and shoot right when you start coming down like Kobe did, you need to be very big and strong to do that from long range. Where if your technique is more like Steve Nash or Steph Curry, normal humans have a chance to get the ball there from long range with really straining or changing your shot. There are some really rare athletes in the NBA and sometimes trying to mimic them is just impossible 99.9% of the population.

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  1 reply  

Jamal Jones says:
2/22/2021 at 11:34:25 AM

I don't change my form at all when i shoot from three.I shooting about a inch away from the three point line.I can shoot from our school logo.I make sure i bring the ball up from my chest,have my feet and shoulders at the same spot.I make sure that i don't heave the ball up like i used to.Here is some game play of what my coach wrote on a paper and gave it to me for me to look at.

Jamal shoots a three.It rolls off the rim but Jordan is able to get the board.Jamal drives in for a layup and instead breaks Hayden off and shoots a mid range shot.Money. (I'm getting rid of the defensive game play and me getting assists) Jamal passes to Dion and goes to the corner but runs off Oliver's screen and shoots a mid range shot.No good.Shot clock is down and Jamal has to drive in for a layup and banks it in.(This is the final 10 seconds of the game now) Jamal dribbles up court and starts to iso Hayden. Jamal shoots at 1.8 seconds left after doing a stepback .He misses after it bouncing off so hard it might have hit the basket support. He walks over to the bench and mutters something under his breath as I walk towards him.

I miss every clutch shot i take if its a three.And my coach is serious about the game and will curse me out if he wants to.I really wish i had clucth shooter equiped from 2k21.Threes are my only weakness. I really need help with them since my team relys on me to shoot threes since our shooting guard is working on his three stil and our small forward can only shoot corner threes.

I know this was really long but i had to let you know since i wasn't clear the first time.

Thanks Jeff

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  1 reply  

Jeff Haefner says:
2/23/2021 at 5:45:11 PM

Look at your 3pt shooting on video in slow motion. Then look at 2pt shooting on video. Is there anything different? Maybe you don't realize it.

Also, it could be strength and you don't realize it. You have to recruit more muscles and strain more to shoot 3s... where maybe 2s are more relaxed.

Are these 2pt and 3pt shots off the dribble or off the catch? There are so many factors... it's hard for me to know just from text messages. Have you filmed your shot and showed it to local coaches?

Those are just a few thoughts that might help you figure out the problem.

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  1 reply  

Jamal Jones says:
2/24/2021 at 10:11:46 AM

Hey..I just looked at a video and noticed that when i shoot a three (off dribble and of catch) I sometimes get my feet tangled up with my defender and land on my left foot and my follow through messes up.I also notice that when i shoot wide open threes i shoot also as soon as i get the ball instead of waiting a moment to make sure the ball is on target.I know i have so strength issues since i am a quaterback on my school team and a pitcher on my baseball team.I also have track to help with my speed.I can through 55 mph fastballs and can throw 70 yard touchdown passes. i will film my shot on tape again and see what other flaws i make when i shoot in a few days.(I broke my wrist when I was playing db and got hit by the ball at maybe 60+ mph) Thanks for the tips and i will record in a few days since its 70 degrees outside for the week.

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Zed says:
1/21/2021 at 12:38:20 PM

Hey Jeff I'm young (Under 13) But Older than 8.I have been shooting on a eight foot rim recently and my jumpshot doesn't work because my wrist flicks across my face when im doing my follow through.I know ere to aim now but one this is all over im planning on joining my school team but my release and jumpshot isn't right.I have been practicing 4 foot shots and about 7 feet is where i have been shooting. I have seen alot of videos that try and help me but I haven't been getting a good release.My parenst have been helping me but I just haven't got the right jumpshot. And I can only practice when we go to the court.Sorry for making this so long but it's important please respond as soon as possible.Thanks in advance.Be safe.God Bless You.

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  1 reply  

Jeff Haefner says:
1/21/2021 at 3:58:03 PM

Why do you say your jumpshot isn't right? What's wrong with it?

What is your shooting percentage from various ranges? When you miss, are most of your misses left, right, long or short?

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  1 reply  

Zed says:
2/1/2021 at 11:11:14 AM

im shooting about 20 perecnt from mid range and the same with the three ball when i shoot.My wrist goes across my face messing up my shooting form and making me miss more.And i am strong enough to shoot the three pointer but i have to shoot with two hands.sometimes im swishing every single shot i take and then the next thing you know im airballing shots,having them hit off the backboard,and airballing layups!I try and try all over again but my shooting form isn't natural since when i shoot my hand flicks across my face and i miss.I also try to shoot floaters but the ball will slip out of my hand or i wont get enough power to it.I need to learn how to shoot 7-15 foot jumpers maybe 15-18 foot jumpers too because i cannot keep on missing.Please respond as fast as you can.Thanks.

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  2 replies  

Zed says:
2/1/2021 at 11:20:52 AM

Also,my shots are short,long,left, and right because the ball isn't on path when i shoot,and even if it was,the shot would have airballed or would have bounced off the rim or would have hit the backboard and would have not even touched the rim. And when i have it the ball rolls off the rim.

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  1 reply  

Zed says:
2/1/2021 at 11:23:31 AM

Sorry for bothering you again but I just wanna let you know that I need to get some arch too.

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  1 reply  

Jeff Haefner says:
2/1/2021 at 4:47:42 PM

You need to spend a lot of time on your form shooting. You should practice away from the basket or very close. Stay close when you shoot. Spend many months working on your form. Then once you get good at it, make you you do form shooting before every workout to maintain your technique. Follow the advice in this article: https://www.breakthroughbasketball.com/fundamentals/shooting-drills.html

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Phil says:
2/28/2021 at 2:37:45 PM

Zed,

My 12 year old son had the exact problem. We solved it by simply changing to an open stance as Jeff describes above in the article.

Stand with your feet, hips and shoulders slightly turned to the left (if you are right handed). This will put your shooting shoulder slightly in front of your left making your follow through more towards the basket.

Also, make sure you are not rotating your shoulders as you load to shoot. This will bring your shooting shoulder behind the other shoulder and you will have to rotate back to shoot. This will also cause hands to move across face.

For my son and many others with this issue.

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Brandt says:
1/20/2021 at 7:26:07 PM

Cuz when I make shots my flow through is fingertips just above the rim and its swishes

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Brandt says:
1/20/2021 at 7:20:31 PM

So I basically do all that but for my follow through is it okay if my wrist is located to the rim but my fingertips end just above the rim

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bob spring says:
11/6/2020 at 5:24:39 AM

to fix your jump shot you need good balance my dude, because back in my day I had no shoes and my jump shot was crap but once I got real quality basketball shoes I was like Larry bird in his prime. hope this help and all the best in the future from bobby

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Kyle says:
11/5/2020 at 1:15:44 PM

Coaches use to say reach as if you trying to reach a cookie jar on top shelf. Finish with snapping your wrist as if over the rim of the cookie jar and relaxed. Hence “hand in the cookie jar.”

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Robert says:
10/27/2020 at 11:17:56 AM

I learn to dribble and shoot more efficiently in accurate .

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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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  2 replies  

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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Kyle says:
11/5/2020 at 1:22:48 PM

Coaches use to say reach as if you trying to reach a cookie jar on top shelf. Finish with snapping your wrist as if over the rim of the cookie jar and relaxed. Hence “hand in the cookie jar.”

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