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Form shooting should be an integral part of any player’s game at any level. It is useful at all levels to develop and maintain proper shooting mechanics, correct bad habits, and/or prepare and warm-up players for effective shooting workouts. Form shooting repetitions are crucial in developing positive muscle memory by providing extensive repetitions that are concentrated solely on proper fundamental technique. During this time the player and/or coach has the opportunity to aim for perfection by taking time to check and correct all elements of shooting form before each shot is taken.

A player who commits to making form shooting a part of their daily practice routine will in time shoot the basketball with a higher level of concentration, consistency, confidence, and accuracy. There are a variety of form shooting drills that we implement with our students at IBTA, but in order for form shots to be effective a player must understand proper shooting mechanics. The following are 1) basic fundamentals of shooting though not comprehensive and 2) a list of form shooting drills to use in your development as a shooter.


Fundamentals of Shooting

The right foot should be slightly ahead of the left foot with the feet being shoulder width apart for balance. The feet should be straight, pointing to target for proper alignment.

The shooting hand is placed with the index finger slightly to the left of the air valve. The ball should rest comfortably on the fingers and area below the fingers referred to as the “finger pads,” but should not contact the heel of the hand. If placed correctly there should be a small gap between the ball and base of hand in which you could fit a finger. Be careful of too large a gap as this would start bringing the grip to the fingertips, which will affect proper control and release. The guide hand should be placed on the side of the ball with thumb of the guide hand and shooting hand forming a “T” though not in contact. The guide hand is used for balance and guidance instead of grip; therefore, should be placed comfortably in proper position with no gap between hand and ball.

The shooting elbow should be “in.” It should be brought in alignment with the shooting side foot, knee, and shoulder, which are all square to the basket. The shooting elbow should be bent slightly past a 90-degree angle to form what is called a “shooting pocket.” At this point, the shooting wrist is cocked back with the ball in front of shoulder and the shooting elbow being under the ball and over the knee. This is the position from which each shot should start to reduce unnecessary movement and time in shooting mechanics. We refer to it as being a “pocket shooter.”

With the wrist cocked in the shooting pocket, the ball is released by extending the shooting arm, snapping the wrist, with the ball rolling off the fingers to create an even, rapid backspin. The extension of the shooting arm should be “up”, “out”, and “through” the ball to create a good shooting arc. The guide hand remains in contact and moves with the shot creating a shooting window that provides vision to the rim. During the release the guide hand is kept straight and does not turn out, but comes off the ball just prior to release.

The completion of this movement, known as the follow through, should result in the shooting elbow being locked straight and the wrist being snapped to a position where the fingers are pointing to the floor. The guide hand is straight with fingers pointing up and is in front of face and over the head. The arm of the guide hand is extended up and out though it does not come to a locked position as with the shooting arm. The follow through should be held for a couple seconds upon release of shot. To consistently apply form shooting fundamentals, we recommend practicing form shooting drills.

Note that descriptions of shooting fundamentals were given based on being a right-handed shooter; therefore, it would be opposite for a left-handed shooter.