How to Become a Better Basketball Shooter?

Justin D. Johnson
Justin D. Johnson

Who has never dreamed of having Ray Allen’s shooting abilities? We’ve all been there, trying to reenact a game-winning buzzer-beater as the crowd goes wild.

Unfortunately, without practice, method, and time, these fantasies will never turn to reality; the only things you will be throwing will be bricks.

Today is the day I will teach you how to become a better basketball shooter.

Basketball Shooting Drills

When it comes to shooting, repetition is key because it builds muscle memory; the main ingredient for any player who aspires to shoot consistently with high efficiency.

The more you practice your shots, the more shots you will make, the more confidence you will build. When game time arrives, and you need to take an important shot, you will be able to rely on this hard-earned muscle memory.

Let’s begin with some shooting drills that will make you an elite player and a threat from anywhere on the offensive end of the floor.

How to Shoot 3 Pointers - Basketball's Most Deadliest Weapon

One of the many common misconceptions about having a proper basketball shooting technique is that people think you need special practice for 3-point shooting

Your shot and technique must remain the same and be as consistent as possible, independent of where you are taking your shot. The only changing factor is the power you put into your shot.

Many players struggle with 3-point shots because they feel they have to change how they shoot. This is a big mistake you need to avoid. Otherwise, you will never develop a highly efficient 3-point range.

Always remember that to become a great shooter like Stephen Curry, you must shoot the same way, no matter the distance.

As far as 3-points go, there are still things you need to do to increase your field goal percentage.

Build Muscles

No need to become The Rock here, but working out should be an essential part of your practice routine as an aspiring high-performing athlete.

You will indeed greatly improve your shot as you develop strength in your core, legs, and arms.

When you take a 3-point shot, your legs are what will give you the required strength. Having a strong core also helps during the shot for better balance. Working out will overall improve your athletic condition and will allow you to be less tired when you take shots.

Just Shoot, Like... A LOT

There is no miracle solution, much like any aspect of your game; you need to practice substantially to improve your 3-point shot.

Remember to keep the same shooting routine, whether from close range or behind the arc. Only when your shooting motion becomes second nature and respects the shooting fundamentals will you be able to be an efficient 3-point shooter.

Ray Allen
Shooting Guard

“When people say God blessed me with a beautiful jump shot, it really pisses me off. I tell those people, ‘Don’t undermine the work I’ve put in every day.’ Not some days. Every day.”

Many great shooters are known to take more than a thousand shots per practice session; this gives you a rule of thumb and an idea about what it takes to get there.

Shoot From Further Away

Shooting a basketball from way downtown can be frustrating because you will make way fewer shots. However, this type of exercise can be fun and has its benefits. The main one is that it will help you work on your shooting power and arc. It will also make regular 3-point shots easier as they seem to be close-range shots.

Basketball Shooting Fundamentals

Granted that the game of basketball tends to become more and more physical, shooting accuracy is still a significant factor and is a fundamental that any aspiring basketball player should strive to master. Here are the fundamentals you need to learn if you want your jump shot to become a lethal weapon.

Shoulder-Elbow-Wrist Alignment

To shoot as straight as possible, any basketball shooting coach will tell you that the shoulder, the elbow, and the wrist need to be aligned on the same axis. You can take it one step further and add your knee and foot to the list for even better results.

Keep a 90° Angle

When you are about to shoot, you need to lift your elbow to form a 90° angle with your core. To achieve that, align it with your shoulder.

Form a W With Your Thumbs

Your non-shooting hand is only here to hold the ball and make sure it remains on the side of the ball. To be certain that your hands are correctly positioned, look at your fingers; your thumbs and indexes should form a W when you place the ball in front of you.

Put Your Shooting Foot Forward

You generally want to have your shooting foot in front of you for increased balance and stability.

Stretch Your arm and Flick Your Wrist

Your wrist plays a significant part in the shooting process, and the wrist whip is what will give the ball a very useful spin. Also, ensure your arm is fully extended above your head (and not in front) upon the release.

Give a Backward Spin To The Ball

Any good jump shooter will tell you this; the backward spin is essential and significantly improves your efficiency. This is done through the flick of the wrist and with your fingertips, and your middle finger is the last one to touch the ball before the release.

Your Shooting Arc Should be Between 47° and 55°

According to James G. Hay’s research in his book “The biomechanics of sports techniques,” the optimal angle and trajectory is between 47 and 55° and will maximize your chances of making the shot.

Flex Your Legs

Whenever you’re about to shoot, flex your knees to transfer your weight downwards before exploding back up. This little detail will give you extra power and is especially useful for long-range shots. The further you are from the basket, the more your legs will play a crucial part in your shot. At the end of the release, like your arms, your legs must be fully stretched.

Put Your Hand in the Rim

After releasing your shot, keep your hand virtually in the rim. Your arm should be fully stretched upwards, your wrist going downwards as if you were looking for something on top of a shelf.

Take it One Step Further: The Dip, the Turn, the Sweep and Sway

Basketball is an ever-evolving sport; teams and players do not operate the same way they used to. What separates good players from elite ones is how they adapt to those changes and if they can adjust their game accordingly.

I am about to reveal these three shooting techniques developed by world-renowned shooting specialists. If applied correctly, this can skyrocket your shooting percentage.

First Up: The Dip

For many years, basketball coaches have forbidden their players to lower the ball after its reception. The reasoning was to gain time and be in a shooting position quicker. The dip (dipping the ball upon receiving it) is getting more and more love.

It supposedly gives more strength and rhythm to the player. Elite shooters such as Stephen Curry or Kyle Korver use the dip religiously. If you observe how Hall of Famer Ray Allen shoots after receiving a pass, you will notice that he immediately brings the ball down to his waist before his shooting motion.

Second: The Turn

The Turn is a slight body rotation that allows you to be completely aligned with the basket. When in a neutral position, your core is aligned with your target, not your shooting arm. To perform the Turn, slightly rotate your body so that your shooting hand is right in front of the basket.

And finally: The Sweep and Sway

The Sweep and Sway is a movement made by your feet while you are mid-jump. The shooter will sway his feet to the front before landing back on their original point, and it will give an extra kick to the ball upon its release.

A Couple More Basketball Shooting Tips

By now, you have learned that the only way you can become a great shooter is through extensive practice. No shooter became terrific overnight. Repetition and muscle memory are essential, and to work efficiently on your shot, here are a few remaining quick tips.

Final Thoughts On Shooting A Basketball

You now have all the keys to becoming an absolutely dominant player on the offensive end. Remember that all great things come to those who work hard for them. Practice, monitor your progression, seek guidance from coaches or teammates and analyze your shot and other players.

If you liked that article, do not hesitate to share it with your brick-shooting friends and teammates who want to become better basketball players. You can also leave a comment below if this helped you improve your game, it would be much appreciated!

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Justin D. Johnson
Justin D. Johnson
Justin is a PhD student at Stanford University and has been a basketball youth coach for over ten years. He is passionate about sports, cinema, astronomy, and sharing knowledge.