Shooting Form: 4 major components

In the last basketball tip, we discussed the importance of making form shooting a part of your shooting development. However, form shooting has little value if one does not know what is proper shooting form. This basketball tip will explore 4 major components of proper shooting form and then in our next post we will discuss some details when it come to shooting the basketball.

Shooting the basketball properly always starts with a good base. Having a good base involves having your feet square to the basket. Square feet means that your feet are pointing straight to your target, that your feet are narrow (no wider than shoulder-width) and that your dominant foot is in the lead position (slightly ahead of your non-dominant foot.) Squaring your feet as a shooter will establish a great base from which to shoot and will ensure that you shoot straight more consistently, get proper lift, and have proper balance.

The next major component is to shoot the ball from a bent knee position. Bending your knees is important as it is your legs that give you power in your shot. Bending your knees should occur before/as you are catching the ball not after the fact. Bending your knees after the catch is wasted movement. You need to eliminate any unnecessary movement by catching the ball with your knees bent and legs loaded and then flow right into your shot. At the NRBA, we like to use the phrase “shooting chair” to remind our shooters to bend their knees so that they are consistently using their legs which prevents them from leaving their shots short. This is especially important when you are fatigued and need to knock down shots.

The third major component is to keep your shooting elbow “in” and shoot from the “pocket”. Your shooting pocket is having the ball in an aligned position with the shooting side foot, knee, and elbow. With the ball properly in your shooting pocket there should be a foot-knee-elbow-ball alignment; meaning, your foot, knee, elbow and ball should all be in a straight line with your shooting hand and elbow underneath the basketball. Done properly your shooting elbow should be “in” (straight up and down) and should form a 90-degree angle or an “L”. Assuming your feet are square to the basket, this will ensure that you are aligned perfectly to more consistently shoot the ball straight.

Lastly, it is crucial to have and hold a good follow through. A follow through is simply the shooting phase and the completion of that motion. A proper follow through starts with shooting the ball from the pocket (as described above) without “dipping” the basketball. A dip occurs when you bring the basketball lower than the height at which you caught the basketball. For example, if you catch the ball at waist level and then you drop the ball below your waist as part of your shooting motion you have dipped the basketball. This creates more movement in your shooting motion which 1) leads to more errors in mechanics and 2) slows down the quickness of release. While executing the“follow through” the shooting arm should extend fully and the ball should be released with a strong “flick or snap” of the wrist. We refer to this as “locking out” the follow through. The non-shooting hand, which we refer to as the “guide hand”, should stay straight, finish high, and not push the ball in any manner. The guide hand is simply a mechanism to help shoot straight more consistently. Pushing with the guide hand creates inconsistency in one’s shot as well as side-spin on the ball which leads to unfavorable bounces on the rim. Not only do we teach our students to “lock out” their follow through but also to hold their follow through after the ball is released.

These 4 major components of proper shooting form – square feet, bent knees, shooting pocket, and follow through – are foundational to being a great shooter. Although there will be some variation from player to player in regards to shooting form, we strongly believe at the NRBA that these 4 elements are non-negotiable and will improve your shooting ability and consistency over time. As with anything, this must be practiced, practiced, practiced in order to master. If you are disciplined and work hard to develop proper shooting form and mechanics, you will lay the groundwork for becoming a dynamic shooter.