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Shoot a Basketball 101

At first glance, all basketball players seems to shoot the basketball in the same form. Yet, the fact is that all basketball players give their basketball shooting form their own spin (pun intended), making it different from players to players and giving rise to basketball player's signature movesLook at how some NBA basketball players shoot!


Basketball shooting skills

There are several skills that enables you to score in a basketball game. You can score by performing the basic basketball set-shot, lay-up, and hook shot. After the explanation of each basketball shooting skill is a list of very useful basketball moves using the basketball skill as the underpinning. Basketball shooting is not chucking a pop can into a garbage bin . Let's take a close look at various basketball shooting skills

Set Shot

Basic basketball shot - Set shot

T Mac showing us the roughly 90 90 90 anglesThe basic basketball shot is simple and beautiful but by no means simplistic. As pointed out previously, everyone shoots the basketball differently.  Yet, there is a general procedure that all good basketball shooters more or less follow.

  1. Half-bent your knees before shooting a basketball for more potential power
  2. Your dominant hand should have its fingers spread out
  3. Only the fingertips should be gripping onto the ball
  4. Your other hand should support the ball on the side
  5. The ball should be brought above the head in one motion
  6. At this point, the angles at your armpit, elbow, and wrist is  at 90 degrees
  7. While extending your knees, extend your forearm and snap your wrist
  8. Make sure you follow through with your wrist movement.   If it feels natural to jump upon release, do so.

In sum, you are shooting a basketball with the kinetic energy transferred from your legs to your hands.  The most optimal case is that the snap of wrist only directs the basketball and adds backspin to it.  You should also shoot the basketball as naturally as possible.  In the event that the power from your legs is not enough to shoot the basketball, (for example, you are doing a fade-away and a portion of the leg power is directed towards the back.) you are forced to use your wrist in a controlled manner.  In particular, do not forcefully use your wrist or jerk your wrist for extra power.  This will greatly reduce your shot accuracy. 

To tap into your wrist power while maintaining control and flexibility is a very difficult thing. You really need to invest into beefing up your wrist. The Shooting Buddy will help you do just that. It is a shooting arm guide that makes your accuracy automatic! You can get them in Amazon for only $19.99 from a listing price of $27.54, and you cannot them in your local sports equipment vendor, Walmart or anywhere else because it is a specialized item. It will guides your arm into perfect alignment with the basket.

Tips on perfecting the basketball Set Shot

I interviewed seasoned basketball team players and coaches to reflect on their basketball shooting experience and came up with the following tips on shooting a basketball

M.J. squares up with the hoop by turning his body sideways

  1. Always keep track of the distance between you and the hoop
  2. Tuck your elbows inward towards each other when shooting
  3. Shoot the basketball at an arc.  It increases accuracy
  4. Aim at the part inside the rim farthest from your standpoint
  5. Use screens and offensive-plays to get open
  6. Square up your shooting hand with the basketball hoop
  7. grip the basketball tightly with only your thumb and little finger
  8. Aim with your index finger or middle finger only
  9. Never hesitate due to the fear of a block shot.

Basketball moves derived from the basketball set shot

Jump Shot: when given space, this is the most popular way to shoot the basketball in this era.

Fade Away: Michael Jordan own this basketball move, know it even if you don't know how to do it.

Leaner: A dominant basketball move when you have the height advantage over your opponent.

Bank Shot: Duncan's signature basketball move, efficient, effective and easy to execute.

Free Throw: Theoretically the easiest shot.

If my advice is not enough, you could try Tom's. He is a seasoned basketball coach and his advice is simple and direct. It sets a firm goal for the players who want to improve their shooting, but don't know what to do otherthan just simply continuously shooting the hoop. The DVD covers the mechanics of shooting, alignment, foot stance, vision, and wrist-hand release position. I have discussed most of them here and Tom goes into details on it and tells you exactly how to practice step-by-step. Try finding them at your local DVD store, or buy them at with free shipping.

Lay Up

Lay up gives rise to basketball scoring without halting a burst. Once you get up in the air, there are many ways to maneuver the ball provided you increase your vertical jump to certain level.  Yet, before you take off in the air, there are basically two ways to approach the basketball hoop and lay the ball in.  Let's take a look at lay up in a nutshell.

Start by dribbling the basketball towards the right side of the basketball hoop with your right hand.

Then you have two options:

  1. 1a) As you approach the basket, you may carry the ball and take one and a half steps.
  2. 2a) Leap towards the basketball hoop with your left foot and bring your right knee up

Or Alternately, you can

  • 1b) Perform a power-hop towards the basket
  • 2b) Elevate towards the hoop with both feet
  1. Protect your position & the ball with your body
  2. Release the ball lightly on the backboard

Tips on perfecting a basketball lay-up

Doing a basketball lay-up slowly with no defenders is very easy but not so when you are guarded.  Here are the tips for scoring in a lay-up under pressure

  1. Take BIG strides when you are carrying the ball for a lay up
  2. Glance at the hoop while you are carrying the ball towards the basketball hoop
  3. If you are driving full speed, convert the horizontal momentum to vertical by jumping higher before release
  4. Sometimes, changing your pace when taking the steps or power-hopping works well
  5. Place the upper arm of your non-dominant hand on the side to resist defender's pressure
  6. When you are about to get up in the air, turn your hip and upper back towards the defender to push yourself away
  7. Add a slight spin onto the ball to further reduce the horizontal force it carries

Basketball moves derived from the lay-up

Finger Roll: The most widely used lay-up method in basketball nowadays

Three Pointers: The threes seem to be a blessing when it comes to outscoring the opposition, but...

Reverse lay-up: two defenders jumps at you on the near side, go to the other side

Tear Drop: Oh yeah, make the hoop cry and make your defenders cry

Up-and-Under: The move spells out, "I refuse to commit myself."

Hook Shot

Hook shot is deadly in 1 on 1 situations. When executed correctly, it enables the offending player to separate the defender and the ball by shoulder length. As a result, the basketball shot will have ample time to gain height before the defender has a chance to contest this almost unblockable shot. To do a hook shot,

  1. (Reverse everything if you are left-handed)
  2. Post-up until you have stabilized in a favorable position
  3. Toe-pivot and make a drop step for foot room
  4. Heel-pivot and turn your whole body 90 degrees to the left
  5. Hold the basketball straight up in a way that makes it farthest from your defender
  6. Look at the rim and elevate with both legs
  7. shoot the basketball by swinging the entire arm and snapping the wrist with a follow through

Basketball moves derived from the hook shot

Sky Hook: The most popular shot in the last basketball era

Baby Hook: The evolution of the skyhook points towards downsizing the arm swing

Shooting Drills

Basketball Shooting Drills

To put everything together about shooting, the old saying really applies: Practice makes perfect. If you are sick of having to pick up the ball every time you practice, you need to get a shot-returner. It is a neat little gadget that returns the ball to you every time you make a shot. Yup, if you miss and the ball bounces elsewhere, you need to go pick it up yourself.  It is one extra motivation for you to get the darn ball in! It only costs $13.29 at which is a bargain actually. I don't think you can get it anywhere cheaper including Wal-Mart and eBay.

3 way shooting

Basic Shot 1

Basic Shot 2

Pass and Shot

Shot and Dribble

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