Fixing Your Basketball Shot: Find Your Flaws Before Your Opponent Does

STACK Expert T. J. Allen analyzes a player's shot to expose two flaws that are causing him to miss.

Fixing Your Basketball Shot

You have three options: train hard, train smart or train hard and smart. That simple choice separates the average from the good and the good from the best, especially when creating the perfect basketball shot.

At 4th Quarter Training, we break down a player's shot frame by frame so he or she can work hard and smart. Using multiple camera angles gives us a complete three-dimensional picture of the player's shot so we can find the root cause of even the tiniest flaw. Although it may seem like overkill, any movement that creates inconsistency or slows down the shot can mean the difference between a win and a loss. In a game as quick as basketball, even the smallest details matter.

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Below is a sample assessment of Evan, one of our athletes, from just one angle. Although he may exhibit several flaws, you'll notice we only discuss one. Fixing one bad habit is tough. Fixing two bad habits at the same time is almost impossible. Thus, after reviewing the assessment, we focus on the most important flaw we discover. We work for weeks (and sometimes months) on fixing it, and then move to the next most important flaw. We continue the process until the shot is perfect (or as close to perfect as we can get it).

Frontal Series Assessment

Fix Your Jump Shot

Fix Your Jump Shot

Fix Your Jump Shot

Fix Your Jump Shot

Fix Your Jump Shot

We always start with the lower body because it initiates the shot. Often, a flaw in the lower body results in a compensation by the upper body. Once we fix the initial flaw, the compensation automatically clears up as well.

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At first glance, nothing appears to be drastically wrong Evan's setup in pictures 1, 2,and 3.

  • His lower and upper body are squared to the rim.
  • He has a decent knee-to-hip bend ratio.
  • His head is up and looking at the rim.
  • His shooting hand is behind the ball, and his guide hand is to the side of the ball.

Not until picture 4 do we see an obvious flaw. Look at his follow-through in picture 4. It almost crosses his entire body. A right-handed shooter's follow-through should never cross his nose. It appears as though Evan is "pushing" his shot across his body to the rim, instead of "lifting and shooting." A push is not only an inconsistent shot, it also lacks the arc it needs, especially from long distance. Why is this happening?

Upon closer inspection of pictures 1 and 2, we see two possible causes:

  1. His right foot is turning in (best seen in picture 2.)
  2. His right elbow wings out from behind the basketball.

Flaw 1 - Right foot turning in

What's Happening

Because Evan's right foot turns toward the middle and his right heel comes off the ground first, his body turns to the left during the shot. His flawed follow-through could, therefore, be the result of the rotation caused by his unbalanced takeoff.

What Should Happen?

A balanced takeoff leads to a balanced, consistent shot. Both feet should face the basket and apply force down into the ground to propel the shooter up and slightly forward. Any force not directed into the ground results in an unbalanced upper body. Any kind of imbalance leads to an inconsistent shot, because the imbalance won't be identical during every shot. Without consistency, accuracy will be variable at best.

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Flaw 2 - Right elbow flaring out

What's Happening

If Evan's elbow is pointed to the right, his lower arm and wrist can only go one way—to the left—once his elbow extends. As you see in pictures 1, 2, and 3, his shooting elbow is winging to the right of the basketball. As he elevates into his shot, his elbow never quite makes it directly under the ball. This may be the cause of his cross-body follow-through.

What Should Happen?

Evan's elbow should track behind the ball during the set-up and end under the ball during the elevation. This allows him to shoot "up and then out" as his elbow extends. His follow-through should end with his elbow by his eyebrow on the shooting hand side of his body.

An elbow that wings out from under the ball causes the ball to obstruct the shooter's view (see pictures 2 and 3.) It also causes the shooter to miss right or left depending on whether he is right- or left-handed. In Evan's case, he often misses to the left of the rim because of his cross-body follow-through.

So now that we think we've found the problem, what do we do?

In the next article, you'll see how we use the assessment to create corrective drills. You'll also see what tools we use to monitor our drills so we know our drills are fixing the flaw.

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock