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How To Shoot A Basketball Like A Pro: The Blueprint To The Perfect Jump Shot

How To Shoot A Basketball Like A Pro

By Ball Till We Fall, Last Updated February 6, 2022

Category: Basketball Training Guides

The Ultimate Step By Step Guide To Becoming A Better Shooter In Basketball

Shooting is commonly regarded as the most important skill in basketball.

Spending the time required to learn how to shoot a basketball correctly is one of the best investments any basketball player can make to improve their chances of future success on the court.

Other skills such as dribbling, defense, rebounding and passing are also very important, but to get points on the board and win games you must make shots.

Great shooters force their opposition to play them tight which means that they space the floor for their teammates and create more opportunities for blow by dribble drives, cuts and passes. 

Steph Curry Masterclass

Did you know that you can now learn how to shoot directly from Steph Curry himself?

You can learn all about his program in our Steph Curry Masterclass Review

Poor shooters on the other hand, allow defenders to sag back, save energy and be in a better defensive help position, all of which makes it harder for them and their teammates to score. 

One thing that all great championship teams have in common are players that can consistently shoot and make outside shots at a high percentage.

Many athletes tend to develop poor shooting habits at a young age, and that poor form is often carried on into adult life.

Shooting a basketball correctly is not a difficult or complex activity.

However bad habits can be difficult to correct, so the younger you are, the more chance you have of building your shot effectively.

Adults can rebuild their jump shot technique too. It just takes a little more focus and attention to detail. 

In this guide you will learn the fundamental techniques and advanced shot mechanics required to start shooting with the precision and consistency of a professional basketball player.

One of the greatest feelings in the game of basketball is derived from scoring points by shooting the ball from range. 

I mean what player doesn’t like to knock down a deep clutch shot for their team?

However, to score major points on a consistent basis you have to know how to shoot a basketball properly. You cant fake it!

In this era of position-less basketball players of every position must be able to spread the floor by consistently sinking long range shots.

It is also important to acknowledge the importance that mindset plays in shooting success.

In fact, confidence is the most important factor in shooting. There have been many great shooter with "ugly' form that were able to knock down shot after shot thanks to their supreme self confidence.

Remember that 2 full sized basketballs can almost fit side by side inside a regulation basketball rim. Knowing that the basket is this big can do wonders for your self confidence. Dwell on this fact next time you line up to take a shot!

You must believe that you are going to make the shot every time you shoot. Confident shooters control their thoughts, feelings, and shooting skill. 

The best shooters shoot with confidence regardless of if they are making or missing shots.

Basketball is a mental, as well as a physical, game. 

Ultimately it is the seamless integration of the mental and technical aspects of shooting which fosters success.

All professional shooters have a "feeling" when they take a shot of whether or not the ball is going in the hoop. They learn this from repetition of taking thousands of shots during individualized basketball training.

They know precisely how their body feels when the shot feels good, and how it feels when the shot feels bad.

This guide is going to cover how to get "that feeling" by repeatedly practicing your shooting while displaying perfect shot mechanics from your toes to your fingertips. We will also teach you how to self-analyse your shot so you can become your own best coach.

TRENDING POST: Roundup and Reviews Of The Best Online Basketball Training Programs

Shooting is a basketball skill you can practice by yourself. All you need is a basketball, a hoop and a desire to improve. Over time you can introduce shooting drills that mimic game situations and defensive pressure. We will introduce you to a list of the very best basketball shooting drills towards the end of this definitive guide.

With dedication to the craft of shooting you too can get that in the zone "feeling" where you can pull a Steph Curry and not even bother to watch your shot after release... because you know it’s good. 


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How To Shoot A Basketball Properly: Step By Step Breakdown Of The Correct Shot Mechanics & Technique

Tips On How To Correctly Shoot A Basketball

These days everyone wants to shoot like Steph Curry...

Steph is the best example of a "pure shooter" as he demonstrates a seamless shot motion and silky smooth touch. It is a common misconception that a pure shooter is naturally gifted. 

But Steph didn’t just wake up one day as the greatest shooter in the history of basketball.

Great shooters are made, not born that way.

He had practice like crazy to perfect his form. 

Steph takes around 500 shots per day in the summer and around 300 per day during the NBA season.

In this post you will learn basics of proper shooting form – and end with moves you can master to help you become the next Steph Curry. 

Steph Curry Teaches how to shoot a basketball like a pro

Steph Curry teaches his shooting secrets in his online Masterclass

Mastering Fundamental Basketball Shooting Form

In order to learn how to shoot a basketball correctly you must first learn the fundamentals of perfect shot mechanics. 

Beginners may feel a little robotic when first applying the shot mechanic and technique prompts below.

Regardless of your experience level you should strive to shoot with a smooth, free flowing, and rhythmical motion

Fundamental shot mechanics are vitally important, but you want to have good mechanics without being mechanical. 

Just let your shot flow from toes to the fingertips.

Like Bruce Lee said "Be Like Water".

"Get the fundamentals down and the level of everything else you do will rise", Michael Jordan

If you stay dedicated and put in the time to master the following components of shooting you will be well on your way to becoming a scoring machine.

Got B.E.E.F.F? - A Helpful Acronym For Beginners Learning How To Shoot

The B.E.E.F acronym is a great way to help basketball players and coaches learn and remember the fundamental components of a great basketball shot.

B.E.E.F.F represents the following shot mechanic prompts:

  • Balance
  • Eyes
  • Elbow
  • Fire
  • Follow Through

In this guide you will learn how to perfect every component of B.E.E.F.F. 

Let's break down the mechanics of a perfect jump shot step by step, starting with optimizing triple threat positioning, balance and footwork.

Perfecting Triple Threat - How To Shoot Out Of The Triple Threat Position

In the triple threat position, you can dribble, pass, or shoot – and this keeps your defense guessing. Don’t make it easy on the defense by making it obvious what you’re about to do.

The perfect triple threat position is a stance that allows for the most efficient release of an accurate shot or pass without limiting first step quickness on a dribble drive.

We will elaborate on all of the important aspects of shooting shortly, however don't underestimate the importance of establishing a consistent triple threat, catch and shoot ready stance.

Check out the helpful video below of the G.O.A.T Michael Jordan teaching how to shoot a basketball accurately out of the triple threat position.

Perfecting Balance & Lower Body Power - How To Use Your Legs To Make More Shots

Unless you are shooting a free-throw you will be jumping while shooting, hence it’s called a jump shot. You can apply all of the principles you learn about shooting in this guide to your free throws, however be aware that shooting a jump shot adds many more complex variables to the shot.

When you shoot a jump shot you use what is known as triple extension.

This means that the joints of your ankles, knees and hips all extend from a jump ready flexed position in a smooth motion. 

Your legs and shooting arm should move down and up together. As your legs extend into a jump takeoff your arms rise up. As your legs reach full extension, your shooting arm should also reach full extension.

It is also important to not that most great shooters don't allow to let their heels touch prior to triple extension to ensure a faster takeoff.

The biggest thing to make sure of is that you can maintain correct shooting form no matter what speed you are running or direction you are travelling in prior to the catch and release. To be a great shooter you must have a high degree of agility, core strength and balance.

A lack of balance and strength will be a HUGE problem when you’re trying to score points.

Without a strong and stable base you shot will be inconsistent and you will struggle to maintain form while you shoot from range. 

TIP: If you need to improve your strength check out our guide to Strength Training For Basketball Players.

Here is a great video of one of the all-time great shooters Ray Allen explaining the importance of using your legs during a jump shot.

"The key to being a good shooter is balance. Everything follows balance.", Larry Bird

Perfecting Foot Position - Correct Foot Placement For Better Shooting Consistency

Back in the day coaches used to teach players to "square up" to the basket when shooting.

If you take a close look at the foot position of the best shooters currently playing in the NBA you will notice the majority of them shoot from a staggered and tilted stance.

Correct Foot Placement For Basketball Shooting

Klay Thompson's staggered shooting stance with a tilted lead foot (right) to allow for hip rotation and better alignment of the elbow and wrist

Your feet should be in a slightly staggered stance that is comfortable and balanced.

Your shooting foot is slightly ahead of the non-shooting foot in a comfortable position. This allows you to align your shooting hip to the rim so when you release there is a straight line running from the hips all the way up to the finger tips. Many players also angle their feet in the direction away from the shooting hand.

For example, when Steph Curry shoots from the top of the key his feet are both almost facing the corner of the court.

Steph Curry Shot Mechanics Footworks

Steph Curry foot placement

You want your feet around hip width distance apart so you feel strong, stable and ready to explode into a jump shot. Some players have a wide stance and other prefer a slightly narrower stance. The main thing is that you feel comfortable , stable and balanced.

Most players have some form of "knee drop" on the leading knee. This movement usually comes naturally to each player based on their individual body shape and bio-mechanics.

It is important to be aware of so you can ensure that you can keep a consistent knee drop every shot. Players such as Danny Green have quite an extreme knee drop, yet Steph Curry only has a moderate amount. They are both great shooters regardless.

Another thing that you must master in order to learn how to shoot a basketball perfectly is how to execute "the hop".

Basically, the hop is a reactive hop that set's up the shooter with perfect alignment every time. 

Perfecting Hand Position - Correct Hand and Finger Placement For Shooting A Basketball

With your shooting hand, spread your fingers behind the ball with it resting on your fingertips. A
relaxed hand position (like a handshake) forms a natural cup to hold the ball.

You want a little bit of space so that the ball is not resting on the palm of your hand. 

Some players start with their shooting hand on the side of the ball and then rotate the palms as they get closer to release. Other adjust the ball so their hands and fingers run along the seams of the ball as they catch. Once again, there is not one specific 100% correct way to shoot a basketball. 

As the ball is brought up through the mid-line of the body in front of the face prior to release your shooting hand should have enough of a gap between the thumb, the index finger and the palm so that you can see through. 

Some players actually use this window as a target.

Your non-shooting hand should be on the side of the ball to help guide it. Some players, such as Steph Curry use the off hand thumb for extra propulsion.

However, too much thumb action can make the shot difficult to control hence why most players prefer a rigid off-hand stance with minimal, if any thumb involvement.

It is always a good idea to track the spin of the ball after release to determine the quality of your hand position and release. If you see that the ball hits rim and rotates out, you know you shot the ball with side-spin.  

Side spin is usually caused by the shooting hand starting on the side of the ball and then imparting rotation behind it. 

Common causes of side-spin include:

  • Shooting with your palm in contact with the ball.
  • Releasing the ball off your ring finger rather than your shooting fingers (index and middle finger).
  • Moving your hand in a lateral direction prior to shot release.
  • Imparting too much thumb propulsion from the non shooting hand.

In the videos below Kobe and Steph share some of their personal tips on finger placement and hand position on both the shooting and off hand (plus some other cool pro hacks!)

Perfecting Elbow Position - Correct Elbow Position For Shooting A Basketball 

As you start moving the basketball up to shoot through the mid-line of the body keep your elbow under the ball. 

You basically want your arm to create an “L” as it moves.

In order for it to be an “L” that elbow can’t kick out sideways at the point prior to release.

However, a small range of elbow flare is common during the early ball lift phase. The main thing to focus on during the lift is keeping the ball travelling up the mid-line of the body in one motion. The set point of your jump shot should be smooth as the ball follows the smooth rhythm of the lower bodies triple extension motion.

Perfecting Aim - Correct Eye and Head Position For Shooting A Basketball

To optimize the accuracy of your shot lock your eyes on the center of the hoop. 

The center of the hoop gives you the best margin of error. However many players prefer to focus on either the front or the back of the rim. At the end of the day it comes down to personal preference. The most important thing is that you practice with the same target area of focus every shot of every session to build strong habits.

It is also important to maintain a consistent head position. Some players prefer to have a slight head tilt to the front or side, while others prefer to keep a straight head alignment. There is no right or wrong position. Once again, consistency of repetition is key to successful basketball shooting.

Perfecting Shot Release - Correct Shot Release Angle and Height For Shooting A Basketball

As you release the ball, your arm should be extended in a straight line. As the ball leaves your fingertips, flick your wrist down like you’re reaching for cookies in the cookie jar above your head.

Bio-mechanical studies on the jump shot have revealed that a greater ratio of height of release to standing height is related to higher skill.

Notice the angle and timing of Steph's release. 

Yep, Steph has mastered both the art and science of the jump shot.

Perfecting Follow Through - Correct Follow Through Form For Shooting A Basketball

When the ball is out of your hands, freeze and do not move. 

Hold your follow through until the ball goes through the net.

When it comes to learning how to shoot a basketball better, your body can be your best teacher.

Take note of the alignment of your follow through and adjust accordingly.

"Coach Bennett once told me that when I shoot, envision water going from my toes to my fingertips in one fluid motion.", Klay Thomspon

Paying close attention to your follow through can help develop a better understanding of your shot.

To really level up your shooting ability combine your analysis of your follow through with a self analysis of your shot's reaction on the rim.

This self coaching combo can can reinforce positive shot techniques and help uncover negative shooting errors, plus reveal their possible causes.

Remember, the ball will always travel in the direction that your shooting arm, hand, and shooting finger propell it.

For example, If you missed to a particular side of the hoop your shooting arm, hand and fingers were pointed in that direction. However, this does not mean that the problem stems from the arms, wrist or finger.

You must analyse the full kinetic chain from the ankles up to identify the exact point at which the rotation is introduced to your shot.

How To Shoot A Basketball Perfectly: The Checklist For A Perfect Jumpshot

It’s hard to always shoot with perfect form, so in order to help keep you accountable here are some things to consider as you’re learning how to shoot a basketball more accurately than ever before:

  • Are your feet hip width apart with a slightly staggered stance?
  • Are your toes pointed slightly tilted away from the shooting arm?
  • Is the basketball resting on your fingertips?
  • Does my elbow create an “L”?
  • Did you flick your wrist on the release?
  • Are you jumping straight up and down when you shoot?
  • Now how pretty does that form look?

Just think how pretty it’s going to be when you have that form and you make the shot.

Yep, it’s pretty.

Make sure to get a picture of your follow through. Every baller needs to see their follow through form!

How To Shoot A Basketball Accurately

Not only does correct form follow all the right steps, but a baller wants perfection. 

Once you get the form down it’s time to focus on how to shoot a basketball perfectly. 

Perfectly meaning accurately and at different distances.

To get better accuracy with your shot, you have to put in the time and effort.

how to shoot a basketball more accuratly

Like I mentioned earlier, Steph Curry and other leading shooters in the NBA didn’t just wake up one day a great shooter. 

He didn’t wake up with excellent accuracy.

He put in hours upon hours of shooting. And this is what you’ll need to do too.  You can see all the details on Steph Curry's exact training routine in our Steph Curry Masterclass Review.

Find yourself a great friend or a great shooting machine.

Either will work.

What you’re looking for is someone or something that can help you keep track of your shooting during a training session.

  • How many shots are you making?
  • How many shots are you taking?

We have previously reviewed the best basketball shot trackers available. if you want a simple way to keep track of your shooting performance and progress they are well worth a look. You can find these reviews in our gear and equipment category.

You need to keep track of this so you can see your improvement in terms of numbers. 

Yes, your shot can feel great and you feel like you’re improving. But you need to see the results in terms of statistics.

As a baller, you’re only competing against yourself when it comes to accuracy.

Challenge yourself each day and know you’re goal of what you’re trying to reach with your shooting – and then try to BEAT it.

  • Are you trying to make 500 shots every day?
  • How quick do you want to get there?

Every great basketball player had a goal for every workout. Write it all down and get to work.

Don’t settle for just reaching your goal.

Beat your goal so you can pick a new goal.

Here are a few popular online basketball training programs that you may find helpful on your journey to becoming a better shooter.

How To Shoot A Basketball Farther From A Distance

To get better distance with your shot, you have to start close to the goal. 

Not everyone is going to have the strength to start out shooting three pointers.

And you don’t want to rush the process of shooting from downtown because shooting from a distance can defer from your form.

  • Start close and get warmed up then slowly move our further from the basketball goal.

A couple of key things to think about when you start moving away from the goal is conditioning and strength of your legs. 

You’ll need more juice in your legs so that there is power behind your shot. Take the time to learn how to jump higher by using strength training and plyometric exercises in a correctly prescribed protocol.

We have reviewed the best vertical jump programs so be sure to check them out if you need to work on your bounce.

 In order to get more juice you need to be in great shape and have a strong lower body.

If you don’t have enough power in your legs then your shots will start falling short. 

As a baller, you don’t want that.

If you’re using more upper body to shoot the long shot then you’re doing it wrong.

If you really wan't to learn how to shoot a basketball farther you must start to focus on your legs, and make sure you’re power is coming from your legs rather than trying to do it all with your arms.

If you can get your body strong enough then it’s easy from there.

All you have to do is practice shooting at long distance so that your body can learn the natural body mechanics it takes to shoot from that range.

TIP: Never sacrifice form for range! This can create bad shooting habits that are very hard to break.

You have to train your body so that it’s an automatic shot with the same form as if you’re shooting at mid-range.

How To Shoot A Basketball Better In A Game Situation

We’ve covered the basics on how to shoot the basketball – and we just wrapped up the best way to perfect shooting through accuracy and distance – now it’s time to talk about how to shoot a basketball better in a game situation.

And that way is through different types of moves - sometimes you’ll catch a great pass from your teammate and other times you’ll create your own shot off the dribble.

Either way to shoot a basketball better in games you have to be ready for both situations.

How to Shoot a Basketball Better Off a Pass

Every shooter needs to master the art of catching the ball off a pass ready to shoot. 

Whether it’s catching a pass in transition for a shot or coming off a screen for a shot, there is one thing in common: you’re catching a pass from your teammate and you need to be ready to shoot!

To do this, practice catching the ball with your feet already in position for a shot, or in other words catching to shoot.

 As a shooter, you can’t afford to waste any time. 

Your feet need to be ready to shoot as soon as the ball hits your hands.

If it takes you extra time to get your shot off then chances are it is too late and your open shot is gone.

>> Recommended For You : How To Pass A Basketball Like A Pro

How to Shoot a Basketball Better Off The Dribble

Not every shot is going to come off of a great pass from your teammate. There will be situations where you need to create your own shot off a dribble. 

Different game situations will force you to do different things and you have to be ready to read the defense and make the play.

To do this, practice dribbling moves that finish with shooting the ball.

Much like catching to shoot, you can’t afford to waste any time.

When you’re dribbling into your shot, your eyes HAVE to be focused on your defender so you know when it’s time to pull up your dribble for your shot.

Visualize reading your defense and pulling the trigger to shoot the ball. You want this motion to be seamless and quick so your defender doesn’t have time to get a hand on the ball.

Here is a great video that breaks down both of these game situations.

>> Recommended For You : How To Dribble A Basketball Like A Pro

5 Tips To Improve The Mental Side Of Shooting

If you want to become a great should you have got to start to think and act like a shooter. Pure shooters have a certain sense of "swag" about them. A level of self confidence that is obvious to anyone that encounters them on the court. 

Great players don't dwell negatively on the shots they miss. 

Many amateur or beginner basketball players will begin to have negative emotions arise after they miss a shot. Often this will continue to spiral into a more negative emotion that will lead to more misses.

Great shooters don't waste time dwelling on the past. Keep it positive at all times.

Here are 5 more tips that can help optimize your mental game:

  1. Meditate and visualise
  2. Raise your standards
  3. Improve your basketball IQ
  4. Avoid analysis by paralysis
  5. Track your shots to reinforce success

5 Ways To Self Coach Yourself To A Better Jump Shot

Although it can be very helpful to have a coach or training partner help give you feedback regarding your shot, the truth is most of the time you will be training solo.

To be a great shooter you must be able to analyze your shot mechanics and techniques based on "feel" and the reaction on the rim. 

By "self-coaching" yourself you can learn to reinforce positive shooting habits and quickly correct any shooting errors that may arise.

Here are 5 ways that you can self-coach yourself to become a better shooter:

1. Always boost your own self confidence. Tell yourself that you are a great shooter and believe that every shot is going in. Be positive. Don't worry or stress out about the shots you miss. Stress creates tension that can alter your shooting form. Great shooters are able to maintain the same positive outlook regardless if they have shot 10/10 or 1/10.

2. Whenever you start to get hot ask yourself "what am I doing right now that is working?". Take note of important variable such as the travel path of the ball, foot position and follow through just to name a few.

3. Once you find your perfect shot create a "mantra" that will help you remember how to emulate the technique at a later date.

4. Always check to make sure that you are not over complicating your shot. Sure it takes time to gain an understanding of "perfect" shot mechanics, but at the end of the day your shot should be smooth from beginning to end.

5. Since you wont have a coach with you during your sessions it is important that you find innovative ways to ensure that you keep the energy of your sessions up. To get better at shooting in games we must practice in game like situations. Use drills that emulate game like scenarios. Track your shooting stats and try to set new personal best records. Take advantage of the number of great online basketball training programs that can help you stay on track by laying out a step by step shooting program that guarantees success.

How To Shoot A Basketball Like A Pro

We should call this part "How to Shoot like Steph Curry". 

You’ve heard me refer to him several times in this article and this section is no different.

Curry is officially the greatest 3 point shooter of all-time

He has mastered the art of shooting lay ups to shooting from half court.

Defenders have to respect him as soon as he crosses half court because dude has range for days.

How do you get range like Steph?

You put in the gym time and train like a champion.

Steph has made himself into the best of all time by repetition, repetition, repetition.

The great Bruce Lee summed this up the concept of the benefits of repetition on sports performance beautifully in this quote:

"I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.", Bruce Lee

Everything we’ve talked about in this article can be seen in his game.

He has perfect form – and most of the time he holds his follow through until the ball is through the net. Unless of course, he isn’t watching it because he already knows he made the shot.

If I could put this article into pictures, it would be these clips of Steph showing the whole package – accuracy and range, off the pass and off the dribble, and of course that pretty form.

If you need a little more inspiration on your journey to becoming a better shooter check this video out!

You Now Know How To Shoot Like A Pro... So Get To Work!

Hopefully, this article has given you great insight into how to become a better basketball shooter.

As you can see, the major take-home message is that perfect practice makes for a perfect jump shot.

There are no real shortcuts when it comes to becoming a great shooter like you favourite NBA stars.

Like most things in life, you will only get out what you put in. Use these tips and you will become a better shooter in basketball.

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Our goal is to provide basketball enthusiasts with free access to the content, skills, and gear they need to level up their game, basketball I.Q and on/off-court swag. It doesn’t matter if you’re new to the game or if you’ve been ballin' out for decades, we have everything you need to get your basketball fix.

  • Thanks for putting together this great guide on basketball shooting tips. It’s exactly what I’ve been searching for. I will definitely share this with my team of junior athletes.

    • Ball Till We Fall says:

      Glad to hear that you found our guide helpful Jacey. I hope your team also enjoys it.

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