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How To Shoot A Basketball: Perfect Your Shot

How To Shoot A Basketball

Whether it is joining in a friendly match or shooting a few hoops in the backyard, anyone can play basketball! But if you want to learn how to shoot a basketball like a pro, you will have to put in a lot of time and effort. It is important to read lots of articles like this one to learn proper shooting technique. But that’s just the beginning – you will need to practice shooting often and consistently if you want to become a great shooter. This means lots of shooting drills and time on the basketball court! It won’t be easy, but with a little dedication, you can achieve a consistently good shot. Once you have practiced enough, it will become part of your muscle memory. But first, you need to learn how to shoot properly.

Being a good shooter is probably the single most important skill in basketball, and here’s why.

Increase Your And Your Teammates’ Scoring Opportunities

Being a great shooter means you can score from way more areas of the court. The opposing team’s defense will need to defend close to you, giving you more opportunity to cut to the rim or drive to the basket. Plus, it will open up much more space on the court for other players on your team to take a shot too.

Points On The Board

This is the obvious one – the more hoops you can shoot, the more points you will score. While there are lots of skills that are important for a successful team, the ultimate goal is getting balls in hoops.

Shooting Isn’t Easy – Proves You Work Hard

Let’s not kid ourselves – becoming a great shooter is not just a matter of reading a guide. To achieve a perfect jump shot will take hours and hours of practice over several years, as will achieving a high shooting percentage. This is why being a good shooter makes you such an asset – there are few players willing to put in the time and effort to achieve it!

How To Shoot: A Step-By-Step Guide

Without further ado, let’s get into the steps you’ll need to get right to achieve perfect basketball shooting form.

  1. Preparing: Body Position

The first thing to master is the proper stance. Some players go with their feet slightly narrower or slightly wider, but we recommend starting with them shoulder width apart. Most basketball players and coaches advocate shooting with your dominant foot slightly forward. The most important thing is making sure you have your weight equally distributed on each foot, with your knees slightly bent.

      2. Hand Placement

Your dominant hand should be below the ball, with fingers spread as wide as possible. This gives you the most control over the direction of your shot. Your hand should be almost at a 90 degree angle with your arm. Next, place your guiding hand on the side of the ball. This keeps the ball centered as you shoot, preventing it from falling – it should not exert any actual force.

Note that the ball should be more supported by your finger pads than by the palm of your hand.

3. Arm Positioning

Your shooting arm should be positioned with the elbow directly underneath the basketball. This is crucial for making a straight line shot. Think of your shooting arm forming a series of ‘squares’ or perpendicular angles – at the wrist of your shooting hand, at your elbow, and at your shoulder.

4. Feet Direction

Some players like to turn their feet slightly to one side when shooting – they argue that it is much harder to line up your shooting hand with the basket without creating tension in your upper body. However, just as many players advocate for a squared off position, arguing that if everything else is lined up, this will give you the most accurate shot. Experiment with both, and see which works best for you. And make sure you are wearing the right gear – the right basketball shoes make all the difference to your game!

If using the turned position, right handed shooters should turn their feet slightly to the left, and left handed shooters slightly to the right.

5. Eyes On Your Target

This has generated just as much debate among basketball professionals. Should you focus on the entire hoop, on the front of the rim, on the back of the rim, or somewhere on the net? The best advice we can give you is to try out different targets, and once you have found one that works for you, stick with it! You cannot become a consistent shooter if you are always changing the spot you aim for.

6. Following Through

Now that you are all set up for greatness, it’s time to follow through! This involves a lot of different movements that have to all occur at the same time.

  • Start raising the ball with your shooting hand directly upwards
  • Begin to straighten all your joints in one fluid motion to propel yourself into the air. Your arm should end up fully extended in a line towards the hoop, with your elbow straight
  • As you push the ball off your fingers, snap your wrist in the direction of the rim so it makes a ‘swan head’ shape. This is vital for creating backspin, which helps the ball maintain momentum and the correct trajectory
  • Release the ball just before the top of your jump. The final two fingers to touch the basketball should be the index and middle finger
  • Release your non-shooting hand flat off the side as you make your shot. If this hand is not flat, it will push the basketball slightly to the left or right
  • If you land in the same spot you jumped from, this indicates good balance!

Tips For Shooting From Different Distances

Tips For Shooting From Different Distances

The good news is, the proper shooting technique is essentially the same no matter what distance you are shooting from. Follow the form described above, and think of your shot as one fluid motion. This will take a lot of practice to get right as there are many elements involved. But the only way to give your shot power and a consistent trajectory is to marry all the elements into one smooth shooting motion.

Near shots require finesse when shooting. You have to give your shot enough power to reach the basket, but not so much that you overshoot. In contrast, long shots require lots of energy and power – and achieving that fluid motion is all important.

In a basketball game, you will need to be able to make shots from close to the rim and from behind the 3-point line. But when you are practicing, it’s a good idea to start close, for example the free throw line or even closer. Master near shots first before moving onto more challenging distances.

Even in one practice session, starting close is a good way to warm up and gain confidence before you start moving further from the hoop.

How To Fix Common Shooting Mistakes

Once you start noticing your own mistakes, it will be easier to fix them. Here are some of the mistakes that young or new athletes commonly make.

Pushing With The Balance Hand Thumb

The guiding hand is just for stabilizing the ball on the way up, and should play no part in the shot itself. But it is all too easy to let the thumb on this hand influence the ball’s trajectory. Make sure you keep this hand totally flat and release it to the side as you launch the ball with the fingers of your dominant hand.

A Flat Shot

If your shot has no arc, it will be exceedingly difficult to get it through the rim as it will have to get to the exact right position. The main cause of flat shots is shooting the ball from your chest instead of straightening your arm first and shooting the ball upward into the air. If you get the correct angle of your wrist and elbow, and finish with your arm in a straight line towards the hoop, you should eliminate this problem.

Close Fingers

You cannot become a great shooter if your fingers are too close together on the basketball. The wider your fingers, the more control you have over the ball, as long as your hand is comfortable. It should be your fingers doing most of the work, rather than the palm of your hands.

If you haven’t yet got one, check out our best portable basketball hoop review, or if you have enough space, it may be worth considering an in-ground basket ball hoop like these.

Practicing Shooting – The Best Drills For You

Once you understand the basic technique that goes into shooting, it’s time to practice! It is crucial to do many basketball drills to maximize the number of shots you take – this is the only way to improve your shooting ability.

  1. Perfects

This is the basic drill where you start in a stationary position with the basketball in your shot pocket. You start at 3 feet from the rim and you have to get a certain number of perfect shots from each position before moving further away – 10 at 3 feet, 7 at 5 feet, 5 at 7 and 10 feet.

     2. Off-Dribble Shooting

One of the most difficult shots to master is the off-dribble shot. In this drill, you start several meters behind the point you plan to shoot from. From there, take 2-3 hard dribbles, and practice getting to the correct position and shooting on balance. The main goal is to maintain balance the entire time.

     3. Shoot With A Defender

In a real game, you will have members of the opposing team trying to block your shot. If you have someone to practice with, take turns playing the role of the defender and blocking each other’s shots. Doing this from varied distances and angles can do wonders for your shooting skills. 

You should always keep technique in mind as you practice, so that you notice your mistakes and don’t reinforce bad habits.

The Best Exercises For Strengthening Your Ability

Becoming a great shooter is not just about mastering technique. Exercises that strengthen the correct muscle groups can give both power and control to your shots.

The Best Exercises For Strengthening Your Ability

Legs And Glutes

It is important to strengthen your legs so that you can bring power to your jump shots and momentum to the basketball.

  • Leg curls: Lie face up on the floor, with your heels on a physioball and your legs straight. Squeeze your glutes to raise your hips and pull the ball towards you
  • Bulgarian split squats: Stand in a staggered stance with a pair of dumbbells. Place the top of your back foot on a bench and squat, remembering to keep your core engaged

Hips And Core

A strong core is essential to pretty much any sport, and basketball is no exception. It will help with balance, power and moving your body in one continuous motion.

  • Fire hydrant rotations: start on your hands and knees. While engaging your core, lift your leg away from your body at a 45 degree angle. Rotate 10 times one way, and 10 the other
  • Side plank leg raise: from a side plank, lift your upper arm and leg. Point the toes of your top down to strengthen the glutes at the same time

Wrist And Fingers

Don’t underestimate the importance of strength in your fingers – after all, they are doing most of the work when you actually shoot the basketball. Doing pushups on your fingertips will help strengthen both your wrists and fingers.

Frequently Asked Questions

You shoot a basketball by getting the correct stance and learning how to handle the ball properly. It will seem very complicated in the beginning, but over time, all the steps will meld together and become part of your muscle memory. Don’t be discouraged if you miss almost every shot at first! Focus on getting the form and technique right, and the rest will follow.

You get better at shooting in basketball by practice, and lots of it! We can talk about technique as much as we want, but it won’t come to anything without frequent and regular practice. To become a great shooter, you need to take at least 1000 shots a week!

You look at your target when you shoot a basketball. This could be the front rim, the back rim, the middle of the hoop, a section of the net, or the whole basket. There are different schools of thought about where exactly you should aim. The main thing is to be consistent – once you have found which target works best for you, stick with it!

It is not illegal to jump on a free throw in basketball, provided you do not step on or over the designated line before the ball touches the rim. The reason pro players often do not jump is because it is easier to aim and get a successful shot standing still. This takes a lot of power though, so most beginners will need to jump.

Read more about basketball rules and history here.

The best three point shooter in basketball is Stephen Curry. When it comes to 3-point goals, Steph Curry has the highest shooting percentage success rate in the NBA, achieving 43.3% of the shots he has taken. He holds the record for the most 3-point goals in a season, as well as the 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 10th spot!


Learning how to shoot a basketball with proper technique is crucial if you want to be a great shooter. Getting familiar with technique means you will notice your mistakes and know how to fix them. Plus, your shooting drills will be more effective because you won’t be reinforcing bad habits. That said, the theory is only the beginning – the hard work starts now!

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