You already know how to shoot.
You’ve mastered your basic form and have gotten comfortable with utilizing it during games. But your shooting percentage isn’t as high as you’d like. What now?
Practice is always a great way to get better. But what should that practice look like? Beyond the advice of “getting more shots up,” what exactly can I do to drain more shots? I’ve worked with basketball players of all different ages and skill levels, and I’ve identified a few strategies that can help almost anyone improve their shooting percentage.
These first two are great for players of any age, while the third one should be reserved for more physically mature players. Let’s take a closer look at each of these strategies and discuss how they can improve your shooting percentage.
1. Train With “All Net” Shots
Your regulation basketball rim can fit 2.5 regulation-sized basketballs inside its diameter.
By training with “all net” shots, you’re essentially aiming for a smaller target. The idea is simple: If the ball hits any part of the rim or backboard, it does not count. This is a surefire way to improve accuracy and even give slight misfires a better chance at finding the bottom of the net.
Start with a stationary shooting drill where a player has to make five shots from five spots, but all-net only. This is a very effective way to improve the players’ focus on each shot and to help them find where their eye line should focus during shooting. For example, do they make more all-net shots when they focus on the front of the rim? Or is it the back of the rim? Or maybe two inches down the inside of the net? Wherever it is, once a player finds what works best for them, they should continue to utilize it during training, practices and games.
This summer I did an experiment with two groups of my players. For two weeks, each group had to complete a spot-up shooting session at the end of our workouts. The goal was to make four shots from five different spots. The first and last days of training, both groups made 20 spot-up shots without any limitations. But for the 12 days in between, Group 1 could only count “all-net” shots as makes during the drill, while Group 2 could count all makes regardless of whether they hit the rim or backboard or not.
Group 1’s shooting percentage ended up increasing by 3-4% more than Group 2 over those two weeks. Anecdotally, they also seemed to develop better shooting focus and an ability to lock in quicker.
Only counting only all-net shots as makes during your training or practice can elevate your typical drills and make the games much easier.
2. Improve Your Ball Pick-Up
Your “ball pick-up” is simply the act of transitioning from your dribble into your shot.
This is an often overlooked act of shooting, and improving the effectiveness and speed of your pick-up can help you create more separation for your shot and help you shoot in rhythm.
Working on the speed of your ball pick-up is simple. When you’re performing stationary dribbling drills, integrate reps where you pick the ball up and bring it directly to your shooting pocket. When you’re performing shooting drills, add a few dribbles to get used to the act of picking the ball up quickly and accurately. The faster you can get that ball from the dribble into your shooting pocket, the more space you’ll have to shoot and the more rhythm you’ll have with your shot.
One key to improving the efficiency of your ball pick-up is learning how to utilize the energy of the ball as it’s coming off the floor. Allowing the ball to bounce a bit higher when you’re ready to shoot will improve the speed of your pick-up and make your release smoother. The key is finding the right speed on your ball pick-up. You want it to be as quick and as efficient as possible, but not so quick that it throws you off balance and disturbs your technique.
3. Close-Range Shots With a Heavy Ball
The first two tips are appropriate for players of all ages and skill levels, but this last tip requires established shooting form and a foundation of full-body strength.
That’s why I specifically recommend this to players over 14-15 years of age. But for those players who do have an establish shooting form and a more mature body, shooting close-range shots with a 3-pound basketball offers several benefits:
- Faster shot release
- Better wrist strength
- Better ability to alter the arc of your shot as needed
With weighted ball work, your shooting distance is dictated by your shooting form. If you’re really able to shoot a heavy ball from 15 feet while keeping your form, then you can work up to that. But as soon as you see your mechanics differ from your regular shot, it means you’re too far away. In my experience, it takes 2-3 weeks of working on heavy ball
If you are shooting a heavy ball from 15 feet without changing form, then it is reasonable. As soon as you see mechanics changed from the regular shot, it is a sign to come closer. From my experience, it takes 2-3 weeks of working on heavy ball shooting in the paint until a player can feel comfortable shooting from 15 feet. It is preferable to use heavy ball shooting in the beginning of the practice as a part of warm-up.
None of these tips will suddenly make you Steph Curry in the span of a day, but stick with them for a few weeks, and you should be draining more shots.
Remember! Don’t strive to just be a shooter, strive to be a maker.
Photo Credit: FatCamera/iStock