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Shooting a Three Pointer


If you tell a grade three that shooting within the arc is 2 points while beyond the arc is 3 points and ask him which shot he will take.  He will tell you to shoot the three 99.9% of the time.  I used to agree with these grade threes too because the three point arc is not as far as it seems.   The threes seem to be a blessing when it comes to scoring as sinking 2 beyond the arc yields the same points as sinking 3 within it.  But consider these stats:

Hence it is not that easy at all to make those three fingers of the referee swing downward.

From those stats you may ask, why aren't the threes a main source of scoring in the NBA if threes are good?

I must clarify that, shooting a three is indeed much more difficult.  First, no matter how close you think the three point arc is from the basketball hoop, what makes three points more difficult is still, the distance from the hoop. The international distance for three points is 20 feet 6 inches.  It goes without saing that you should never try to go for a bank shot. The distance is too far and will often results in a hard bounce off the backboard.  For those physics people, the distance traveled by the basketball will increase the force of the ball, this means that whenever a three point shot touches the rim, it will almost never bounce inside the basketball hoop.

The three point in basketball shooting is a long shot and a tiny-weeny amount of imprecision in direction can easily make a basketball shot from nothing but net to nothing but air. If you shoot with the ball lined up with your ear or shoulder, it becomes much more difficult to get and stay on line.  Also, since the distance is far, you most probably have to use more wrist and using more wrist reduces accuracy.

In other words, you must have almost absolute control over your movement when shooting a three pointer to minimize any mechanical errors that may result in a bad basketball shot.  When you have control, however, you are sacrificing shooting and release speed.  That is perfectly fine when you are practicing your shot.  Yet, you can't take your time in a real game.  Hence, you need your teammates to buy you time and create space for you.

Passing more and longer, in and out will also create more space for the outside shooter.  This is very true when you have a dominant inside player passing it back out to the launchers from beyond the arc.

Getting open is very important because if you need to worry about releasing the basketball shot before the defense gets in the way, your release will often be not smooth. therefore, establishing an inside game can draw attention and free up the space outside the perimeter.  Also, using picks smartly can also create more space for you.  If you carry that a step further, pushing people into picks without letting the ref notice will create even more space for you.  Reggie Miller is a master of it but that's not the end of the story about Reggie!!  More on that later.

For all normal basketball shots, you need to have a setting of the ball, a set Point, and a release action that are in line with your shooting eye and the basket. Focus on that alignment throughout the motion will increase accuracy substantially.  For a three point shot, this is even more important because as mentioned before, a really small error in your shooting angle can make your shot miss.

Strength of your arm and hand are very important in shooting three points. Remember that you are using your legs as well as your arms to shoot because if you overuse your risk, you will steer the basketball sideways most likely.

If you need to jump over anyone to shoot threes, my suggestion is to pass it off if you can. It is much more difficult to hesitate and then rely excessively on the more unstable power of the upper body to power the shot.

The three points can also be a killer... Always assess the situation before you resort it to the threes. Some teams rely too much on the threes and try to come back from a huge deficit. In doing so, they usually lose even more when each unsuccessful attempt shoves them even further into the abyss of discouragement and hopelessness


An Aside about Reggie's lethal weapon - the four-point play

Reggie Miller has a combo.  As aforementioned, he pushes people into a pick.  That will buy him some time to get the ball but not enough time to set his shot.  Thus, he practiced the art of fading away from beyond the arc.  To make sure that he has enough power to offset the backward momentum as well as propell the ball towards the basketball hoop, he places the basketball slightly sideways for more power, as you can from the picture beside.  In fact, when Reggie has the hot hand, he sometimes even let his defense contact his right hand and then release with his left for three points plus harm, a magnificent four-point play.




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