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How To Shoot A Basketball: The Basics
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There is a clear, definite, effective way to shoot a basketball. I am happy to share with you solid information on improving the shooting accuracy of your players. For 15 basketball seasons, I have been successfully teaching the following basics of how to shoot a basketball. Most recently, my 8 year-old players were able to learn and apply the following effectively to their games. It certainly works for older players as well.

Please picture this. Your player holds the basketball by putting his/her strong hand behind the middle of the ball. The weak hand is lightly on the side of the ball. Your player has feet about shoulder-to-shoulder length apart and knees bent, so that your player's body is balanced, with a stable base. Your player raises the ball to a comfortable level(higher is better) and releases the ball, with the power coming from the strong hand. The ball should be raised with the elbows in, not out like a chicken. The release should be mostly from the fingers, not the palms. When the release is from the fingers, there will be a rotation of the ball as it goes up to the rim. The shooter should aim for just above the front rim. If the shooter jumps during the shot, she/he should land in the same spot from which the shot was started. After the shot is released, there should be a follow through of the strong hand in which the fingers end up pointed toward the basketball court floor.

While teaching how to shoot a basketball, I find it very helpful to players when I emphasize the 3 C's: consistency, confidence, and concentration.

Consistency: When players have discovered a way of shooting which is working well for them, I encourage them to shoot this way consistently. I ask them to be aware of how they are shooting when the shot goes in the basket, and to repeat that same way of shooting. The value of repetition in shooting practice is that the player develops a good habit of shooting over and over in a way which is leading to many baskets for her/him.

Confidence: As your player makes more shots from certain distances, his/her shooting confidence grows. This is important in games, as it is better for players to take their open shots when they occur, rather than hesitate and doubt. Confidence comes from making more shots over time. Confidence comes from a coach sharing with a player that his/her shooting mechanics and form are sound. A confident shooter has a much better chance of being an effective shooter than a player who lacks confidence.

Concentration: A good shooter is not distracted by the defensive player, the fans, or anything else in the environment. She/he keeps the eyes on the basket. Your player continues to shoot the same way every time, no matter the circumstances of the game or what the defense does. Increasing individual practice time for shooting helps to increase stamina so that fatigue becomes less of a factor in lessening concentration.

The activity I like best for improving shooting for the individual player is the following. A player gets a calendar. For each day of the month, he/she indicates how many shots he/she made in practice that day. A goal can be set to make more shots than were made the previous day.  A goal can be set to make a certain number of baskets over a period of time(for example, a week). Player can get a reward for making a certain number of baskets. 

Scoring baskets is probably high on the list of what is fun in basketball. How to shoot a basketball effectively is something that most players can learn from the age of 8 and up. My hope is that you enjoy the process of improving your shooting and/or helping a player become an effective shooter.


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