How to Shoot a Basketball Better

STACK Expert Quinn McDowell offers three 'tricks of the trade' that can help you become a better basketball shooter.

As a professional basketball player and a four-year collegiate athlete, I've heard a lot of different advice about how to shoot a basketball better. The reality is that there is no substitute for hard work and getting shots up in the gym. However, there are a few tricks of the trade that will help you make immediate improvement in your accuracy and consistency. These are some of the most useful tips and strategies I picked up over the years that have helped me become a better shooter.

1. Concentrate on Proper Hand Placement

  • When you put your hands on the basketball, they should form a "W" with your thumbs almost touching. Your dominant hand (for me and about 90% of you, your right hand) should be directly behind the ball. One little trick that I like to use is to line up my right hand so the inflating hole (where the needle is inserted) is between my middle and pointer finger. My "off" hand (my left hand) is on the side of the basketball, acting as a guide to my right hand. My left hand does not actually do any of the "pushing" of the ball toward the rim. It just acts as a stabilizer for my dominant shooting hand.

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2. Drive with Your Lower Body

  • Your lower body is almost three times as strong as your upper body. This means the power for your jump shot starts with your lower body and propels you into the air, allowing your upper body to finish the job. When you get tired during the course of a game, you tend to miss your shots at the front of the rim because you don't have enough power behind the ball. This is the time you need to shoot with your legs! The key here is to have your legs "locked and loaded" before you receive a pass to shoot the ball. If you are in a slightly crouched position, your legs will be ready to get immediately into your shooting motion instead of wasting energy by dipping down and back up as you get ready to shoot.

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3. Shoot with your Fingertips not your Palm

  • When the ball stays on your fingertips throughout the course of your shot, you will have greater control of the ball from start to finish. In contrast, a lot of players like to have the ball on the palm of their hand, which takes away from their ability to shoot the ball where they want. If you're doing this correctly, there should be a pocket of air between the basketball and your palm. If the ball stays on your fingertips the entire time, when you flick your wrist to finish your shot, the last part of your hand to touch the ball will be your middle and pointer fingers.

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