Stop the Basketball Shooting World – I Want to Get Off! (Part 2 of 2)


To the Basketball World:

This is the second of two articles examining six generally believed instructions that are being used to teach basketball shooting. These include the first three — squaring up, elbow under the ball, and wrist flipping — which were covered in Article #1.

Now let’s look at three more “myths” of shooting and how they are taught and what else might be effective.


Shooting at the top of the jump is another of those instructions that isn’t helping shooting. It’s an effective weapon … if you can do it. But it’s very difficult because all you have is upper body to power the shot. Also, it gets more difficult the further back you are, as the target gets smaller and smaller. Few athletes can shoot well this way all the time.


Shooting more quickly “On the way up” is an easier way to shoot. By shooting early, it engages the big muscles more and their action provides a stable platform from which to shoot, a vortex of energy. Add to that motion a constant Release and you’ve really got something!


Another instruction tossed out from time to time is to “Reach your hand in the (imaginary) cookie jar.” But note that such a motion is downward, thus flattening the shot. It also increases spin, which may or may not be desirable. And it’s engaging those pesky small muscles of the wrist, hand and fingers. Instead, I suggest you push upward with the arm and relax the wrist and hand. Try it both ways and see which gives the higher, softer, more predictable shot action.


Some say that the hand and elbow should be aligned (some say to include the knee and foot in this alignment) and this is somehow important, that such a vertical line is helpful. My response is “What for?” To me, the line that matters is the one from the hand and ball through the eye to the basket. That’s determining where the ball goes. Any other line is superfluous. Some even say that the ball should be in line with the strong side of the body. People with this belief end up shooting with the ball aligned with their ear or shoulder or between ear and shoulder. The vertical line thing sounds cool, but it’s off line with the eye so accuracy becomes more of a challenge.


Here’s what I offer as important:

1) Open the stance, step in to  yalla shoot shoot where possible.

2) Make the shooting hand and where it points be critical, not the elbow!

3) Align the hand and ball with shooting eye and basket. As you bring the ball up to the Set Point (where the Release starts), be aware of aligning the ball with eye and basket as early and as long as possible so there’s some inertia to catch and use.

4) Develop a Release that’s a “pushing” action, to the end-of-the-arm (full extension) at the same speed every time. The goal is a “constant” Release motion, minimizing variables. If you’re a strong player and have a Set Point above the head, keep the back of the ball in front, not allowing it to go overhead. From in front, you will have to push the ball upward, which is desirable. If you take it overhead, a throw and/or flip is encouraged, even required.

5) Relax the wrist and hand such that the hand might even bounce in the Follow Through. Give the wrist and hand this one job: to cradle the ball securely and to keep the ball on line with wherever the arm sends it.

6) Control distance by varying the arch (trajectory) at the last instant. This is the easy way to shoot. If you try to have the same arch every time by varying the Release or the timing with your legs, it’s much more difficult. If you vary the arch, you can then just “let it fly” at the same speed and force every time and trust your instincts to know how high. This is the easy way to shoot!


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