How to Shoot Better in Basketball

Shooting simply takes practice. Any coach will say that.

But, there are some tips that can make the practice more effective in order to learn how to shoot better in basketball.

One of the coaches on the Sportamix site, Wayne Wharton, suggests that practicing how to shoot will develop a muscle memory so that your body will remember that feeling and know how to shoot properly when the time comes in the game.

“I have worked on my shooting because that is what I needed to do to improve my game, and I know it takes practice and lots of hard work, doing it over and over again,” says Wharton.

Wharton studied kinesiology, the study of body movement in college, and played basketball himself. Now, he’s a coach in Southern California, and is sharing his best tips in the game.

The basics of shooting improve if you are aware of how your body is positioned. Don’t stick your elbow too far out and don’t use your thumb too much.

Straighten your knees when you shoot and jump a little bit forward. Push the ball upward with your dominant hand and release the ball. Let your arm and elbow follow through as if it is following the ball.

Coach Wayne Wharton shows moves on how to avoid an opponent and clear a shot.

Basic Shooting Drills

Practice shooting the ball in front of you to the same spot on a line about 5 feet in front of you and have the ball bounce forward straight and not bounce off on an angle.

Then practice hitting a spot on a wall, and keep hitting the same spot over and over. Try to keep the rhythm and power of the shots the same.

Also try bouncing off the edge of a backboard on the side, and have the ball bounce directly back to you, rather than having it veer off to the left or right. If you hit that edge straight on, it should bounce back to you.

First master a two-handed shot, and when you are comfortable with that, work on your one-hand shots.

Try a drill of taking one-handed shots at the basket starting at close range. Start  making successive baskets, and then move out further, keeping a rhythm as the ball goes through the basket. Repeat the motion again.

The feeling of the ball going from your fingertips and through the hoop will become second nature, and your body will feel the necessary power, speed and angle that you need for success. Keep the ball moving.

Basketball slam dunk

Long Shots

For guards and forwards who want to learn how to shoot better, warming up and shooting from the top of the key is a good way to loosen up. Of course, it is easier to get a good shot and get the basket in without any pressure on you, so create some pressure yourself by trying some full speed shooting.

Run in full speed from half court to inside the arch and shoot. Then, after the shot, head back to half court and do the same thing.  Make 20 shots before you stop.

It may seem easy at first, especially when you make your first 10 or so shots, but then your legs may give out or your arms aren’t working as strongly, and your body gets tired.

To make a three-point shot from outside the key of the court, make sure you fully extend your arm and hold it out when you’re shooting. The arm should be high, and not straight-forward at the end of the shot. Your elbow should be above your eye line.

Make sure your wrist snaps quickly and that the wrist bends far back before the snap. Also make sure your legs go up too, and bend your hips so that your entire body is committed to putting power into the shot.

Be careful about slowing down your long shot, because it affects the power you put into the shot. Coaches say that is a common problem for those who go for the far shot. Do it quickly and synchronize your body together because the speed of the shot will make it more powerful.

“Your confidence in shooting will improve the more shots you make, and that will improve your game,” Wharton says.

basketball player shooting during a pick up game