To be a good basketball player you need to be well rounded in a variety of skills. However basketball games are won on points and if you can’t shoot, then you can’t win. Basketball shots are generally classified into a few main types. There is the jump-shot, slam dunk, lay-up, foul shot and three pointer. In this guide we are going to look at how to improve your basketball shooting skills in general.
Improving your general technique
There are many ways you can improve your overall shooting ability. The most important thing to remember here is that practice makes perfect. Pay close attention to the basics, get these right and each time you train, go back to them in order to keep a consistent technique that you can continually improve upon. Here are a few handy pointers.
Get the correct wrist technique
This is a basketball drill to isolate the technique in your wrists, making sure that they are doing their share of the work and not the elbows or shoulders. You do not need to use a basketball to do this.
- Relax your arms to the side of the body and shake your hands about to loosen your wrists.
- Place your feet shoulder width apart and lift your arms up above your head with your hands turned to the front. Make sure that your elbows also face forwards and do not lock your arms.
- Now start to snap your wrists gently backwards making sure that they are not moving to the sides at all.
- Let your wrists sway backwards and forwards gently.
- This drill should be practised for about a minute each time on a regular basis. Soon your muscles will automatically remember the motions and you should see noticeable results in your shooting.
Arch that shot
Great basketball players know that a good arch means a sweet, safe shot. In order to perfect your technique try to think about pushing the basketball up when shooting, rather than out. A good training technique is to get a friend to stand directly in front of you, holding a tennis racquet up above his head. By shooting the basket over this obstruction you will get a higher arch and be prepared to shoot over the heads of the opposition when the time comes.
To get those baskets, all basketball players need "beef"!
- Balance. Feet should be shoulder-width apart, shooting leg slightly in front of the other (if you are right-handed this is your right leg and vice-versa). Hips should be turned towards the basket.
- Eyes on your target. Choose your target, be it the rim of the hoop or the top line or a point on the backboard. Do not take your eyes off the focal point and do not follow your hand or the flight of the basketball through the air.
- Elbow keeps the basketball straight. The ball should be lightly resting on your fingers with your index finger on the centre of the ball. Place your guide hand on the side of the ball. This will not be used to shoot but simply to steady the ball in your shooting hand. The all important elbow of the shooting arm should be directly underneath the basketball and this is what will give it a clean, straight flight through your line of sight.
- Follow through. This is vital to the placement of a good basketball shot. A clever tip is to imagine that you are placing your hand into the basket as you shoot the basketball towards it.
The Lay-Up Shot
The lay-up shot is one of the most popular shots in basketball. It is suitable for all types of players and useful in many positions. What is more, you don’t have to be seven feet tall to hit the basket. Here’s how to do one:
- This is a moving shot. Driving forwards, aim for the backboard above the net to rebound the basketball safely in. Dribble towards the net and give yourself room before it to make the jump.
- To prepare for the jump, transfer your weight to your leading leg. If you are left-handed this will be your right leg and if you are right-handed this will be your left leg. However, you must train to be able to do both. Bend the knee slightly to prepare for the spring.
- Power that leading leg into the floor and use it to get height. At the same time, swing your arms up towards the basket. This will help you get even higher. All the while you should be holding the ball securely with both hands. You must jump up towards the side of the basketball net, not directly in front. As you almost reach the highest point of your jump, roll the basketball into your shooting hand.
- The ball should finally be released from your shooting hand at the top of your jump. Try to release it gently onto the backboard. For absolute precision, aim to hit the top right corner of the right square on the side nearest to you.
Remember – keep your eyes focused on the basket at all times and keep the ball in both hands right up until the last minute.
You can watch a great instructional basketball video of a lay-up shot right here.