Three Simple Cues to Make You a Better Shooter

How's your shooting form? Learn how to develop a better shot by focusing on three points of your shooting form.

Kevin Durant Shot
A good shooter in basketball is virtually guaranteed a spot in the lineup, especially at the high school level. But to get better, you have to work at it. Larry Bird didn't become one of the greatest shooters of all time just because he had a pretty shot. Learning correct shooting technique and relentlessly practicing various shooting drills (check out STACK's library or shooting drills) are extremely important.

Here are three cue phrases you can implement in practice to become a better shooter.

Start Small End Tall

Very few high school basketball players actually explode into their shot. Instead they start way too tall and hardly involve their legs. This may work fine for  shots 8 to 10 feet from the basket in stationary drills, but on the 3-point line or in a high-pressure 4th quarter, every shot falls short. And if it isn't short, it's on a line drive with little hope of going in. A tall shooter coming off a screen is a slow, poor shooter.

So use the cue "start small end tall" to remind you to explode into your shot by pushing your hips back and end in an extended position with a great follow through.

Snap the Elbow

Failing to extend and follow through is one of the biggest shooting mistakes in basketball today, and it's particularly prevalent among female players. Continually short-arming shots almost always results in line drives.

Cue yourself by reminding yourself to "snap the elbow." This prompt works better than popular ones like "snap the wrist," "hand in the rim," or "up and out." Why? Because it solves multiple problems with one cue. "Snap the elbow" reminds you to extend the follow through and to shoot up and then out. It's almost impossible to actually snap your elbow without extending your arm first. Also, this phrase indirectly reminds you to snap your wrist on the follow through, because once you snap your elbow, your wrist will automatically snap. The result is a beautiful arching shot that touches nothing but net.

Middle to Middle

Shooters who snap their wrist to the inside/outside of the rim, stick out their elbow or line up away from the basket present other problems. Although you can make adjustments that allow you to shoot a decent percentage, you'll never be a great shooter without thousands of hours of practice to compensate for poor technique.

Remember the cue "middle to middle." This phrase attacks two problems with three words. You are reminded to take your middle finger to the middle of the rim, because where the middle finger goes, the hand will follow. Plus, it cues you to line up the middle of your elbow to the middle of the rim. Your accuracy will be improved tremendously. If you still miss shots, you will be missing long or short, never right or left.

Develop a better shot by checking out Ray Allen's shooting form.

Photo: Tim Shelby

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