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Basketball: Shooting the Ball

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Player shooting the basketball
Source: US Navy
The primary skill in basketball is shooting. If you can't put the ball in the basket, you won't score.

When you practice shooting, you should practice with good fundamentals. Shooting the correct way will give your shots consistency and allow you to become an excellent shooter.

Stance and Balance

An important part of shooting is balance. You should stand with your feet apart and on the balls of your feet. When you take a jump shot you should jump straight up. If you drift to the side or toward the basket, it makes it that much more difficult to be consistent. Keep your shoulders square to the basket.

Use Your Legs

When you shoot you should use your legs for power. If you have to use all the strength in your arms to get the ball to the hoop, then you will start to lose accuracy. Let your arms and hands do the aiming and control, get your power from your legs. This means bending you knees and jumping as you release the ball. Jumping high on a jump shot will also help you from getting your shot blocked.

Holding the Ball (Shoot with one hand!)

How you hold the ball is important. You will be shooting the ball primarily with one hand. Never shoot an outside shot with two hands. Shooting with one hand is the only way to consistently keep your shot straight.

Cradle the ball in one hand and keep it balanced there with the other. Spread your fingers out some on the main shooting hand. The ball should be held high, just in front and slightly above your head.

That Elbow!

Perhaps the most important thing for a young shooter to practice is keeping the elbow in. Your arm, elbow, and the ball should all line up straight with the basket. This is absolutely important in keeping your shot straight. Your elbow should point at the hoop.

Shooting the Ball

Now you will release the ball. As we talked about above, use your legs for power and your arms to guide the ball. Push the ball up and towards the basket. Your elbow, arms, and hands should all point toward the basket.

Follow Through

Follow through on the shot. Flick your wrist at the end. One way to think of this is to "grab the rim" as you release the ball. This will help keep the ball straight and add touch.

If you follow through on the ball correctly, it will have some backspin on it. The backspin will give your shot "touch". Touch allows the ball to bounce softly off the rim. This gives you a better chance to get the roll and still make the basket even if your shot is off by a bit.

Get Some Arc on that Shot!

A well shot ball should have some arc on it. Arc gives the ball more of a chance to go into the basket. It provides a better angle and essentially makes the basket bigger. A flat shot has a narrow angle and much smaller chance of going into the basket.


The best way to become a good shooter in basketball is to practice. However, it is very important that you practice shooting the right way. This will help you to develop good habits and a consistent shot.

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