Basketball Shooting Instruction Nobody Gave You!

Suggestions for improving your basketball shot. Not the usual kind of coaching, but you’ll find it’s the way of the great shooters.

Let me ask you some questions, and then I’ll respond. First remember that shooting is at a low ebb in this country, and we need to question all the coaching out there, including mine!

Do you Square Up? If you do and are not taking a two-handed shot, that’s your first mistake! The best shooters do not Square their bodies to the target; they have an Open Stance! Check it out. An open stance is more natural and athletic, plus alignment with the eye and target is easier the more open you are, and it’s more powerful because the body energy can drive the ball upward and forward, not just up. It’s like a boxer stands to throw jabs, open, jab arm forward. Try it and see how such a stance is strong and stable.

SET POINT (where the Release starts from):
Is the center of the ball in line with your eye, your ear, your shoulder, nose, other eye? For greatest shooting it’s best aligned with the shooting eye. Then you know where the target is and you can fire off your Release exactly on line. Direction is thus not as much a challenge.

As you bring the ball up to the Set Point, is the center of the ball in line with eye and basket a long time, or is it so aligned only at the last moment, or not at all? If the latter, accuracy is compromised.

Is there a flow (a one-piece action) from the setting to the release that helps you with accuracy, or are you hesitating before shooting (breaking the flow) or bringing the ball up off line?

How would you describe your release action: throw, flip, push, or catapult? Most people these days flip the ball, and I feel this is one of the main reasons no one can shoot any more. I recommend an upward pushing action with relaxed wrist and hand with a solid, connected Follow Through. That’s what our greatest shooters are doing. It defines them. Mediocre shooters throw or yalla shoot  flip the ball, thus adding variables that are hard to control.

When you release the ball, is your arm action going to full extension at the same speed every time, or is the speed inconsistent or is the arm stopping short (called “short-arming”) or moving around or pulling back quickly? Great shooters go to the “end of their arm” with full extension every time at the same approx. speed and thus have reliability and predictability.

What kind of spin are you putting on the ball? Is it pure backspin, or is there some sidespin creeping in? Maybe it’s a dead ball, or all sidespin. If it’s not medium backspin, you will know you are messing things up with the wrist, hand or fingers. A “push and flop,” as I recommend, will give you beautiful medium backspin every time.

What do you do to control distance? Do you vary the Release? Or change leg action or the timing of when you release the ball? Or do you vary the angle or arch? I recommend the latter, because with a release action that’s the same speed and force every time, your only decision in the moment of Release is the angle, the trajectory. That’s an instinctive decision, not a thinking process. Shooting becomes less complicated.


I’ve been researching and writing about shooting for over 20 years. Almost every shooting coach I’m aware of (and regular coaches who attempt to teach shooting) teaches ~4-5 things that are not effective. Somehow in our history, coaches started teaching and demanding things that are not effective, not how our bodies are made. One of these is the first thing out of their mouths… SQUARE UP!

Squaring Up is appropriate… for two-handed shooting!!! It’s not appropriate for the one-handed shot of today! But coaches still say it. (A few have told me they mean “Face Up,” not “Square Up,” and an open stance is implied.)


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