How To Shoot Better In Basketball | 13 Tips To Improve Your Shooting

shooting tips Dec 02, 2023
how to shoot better in basketball

How To Shoot Accurately And More Consistently In Basketball

Shooting a basketball is one of the hardest skills to master in all of sports really.

There are so many moving parts to a basketball jump shot -- your legs, your balance, how you set your feet, how you hold the ball, your follow-through, and so much more. If just one part of your jumper is off, it can throw off the entire shot. 

And that's just the physical aspect of jump shooting. There's also the mental aspect.

Do you have the confidence to keep shooting well despite missing a shot or two. Do you have the focus to lock-in and make shot after shot, even in a pressure situation? Do you hesitate to shoot certain shots because of an underlying fear of missing?

These are just some of the factors that go into being a great shooter, whether you are a youth basketball player or a more advanced player.

In this post, I share with you my top 13 tips to improve your shooting in basketball.

These shooting tips will help you improve both the physical and mental aspects of your jump shot and as a result, help you to improve your shooting percentage, shooting accuracy, confidence, and consistency. 

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• How To Get Better At Basketball - The Ultimate Guide >>

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Get Better Handles | Tips and Drills >>


1. Make 250 Shots A Day, Right In Front Of The Basket

One of the best (and easiest) ways to improve your jump shot is to practice form shooting by making 250 shots from right in front of the basket, every day.

Stand a foot or two away from the front of the rim and make 250 shots, without jumping. This will help you shoot better for a few reasons:

First, it's a quick way to build up muscle memory for your shooting form. To get a better basketball shot, you need to get a lot of reps in.

Since you're shooting from right in front of the basket, you'll be able to do a high amount of reps in a short amount of time. Don't forget to count your makes though! 250 makes, not just shots.

Secondly, when you practice shooting close to the basket every day, it helps to build shooting confidence.

Even though it's an easy shot, seeing the ball go in over and over and over again, every day, does play a part in increasing your shooting confidence.

Third, standing right in front of the rim forces you to shoot with good form. More specifically, it makes you shoot with proper arc.

If you don't shoot with proper arc when you're standing right in front of the basket, well, then you're going to hit the bottom of the rim. So making 250 shots each day in close reinforces good shooting habits. 

When I was younger, I used to dip my shoulder when shooting. My shoulders weren't well balanced when I raised the ball up into the air to shoot. One summer, I spent every day making 250 shots while focusing on raising both my shoulders up together. By the end of the summer, I didn't have to think about it anymore. I was able to change my shooting form for the better and I felt really confident going into the season.

Making 250 shots a day from in close is a great way to warm-up as you start shooting each day and to improve your shooting form and confidence.

You might like: 24 Motivational Basketball Quotes to Build Confidence  >>


2. Make At Least 100 Jump Shots Every Day

After you make your 250 shots right in front of the basket, then it's time to start your usual shooting workout.

I suggest making at least 100 shots a day from all over the court....and that's the bare minimum. 100 is great. 250+ is even better. It depends on how serious you are about becoming a great shooter.

But at the very least, I've found that making 100 jumpers each day is enough to improve your shooting skills. By the way, using a shooting machine is a great way to get a lot of reps in each day, if you have access to one. 

As for which basketball drills you should do - players often wonder which shooting drills are the best. In my opinion, it really doesn't matter which drills you do (to an extent).

The most important thing is that you're getting lots of reps, with good form and taking game shots at game speed. Besides that, there aren't any secret basketball shooting drills that will help you shoot better or more accurately.

It's the time and repetition, with proper speed and technique, that will make you a better shooter.

Watch: Best Shooting Drill to Build Mental Toughness >>


3. Fingers Spread And On The Seams

*A Quick Note On Shooting Form

I'm often asked, what is the best way to shoot a basketball? While there is no one perfect form or shooting technique, there are similar characteristics that most elite shooters share in common. The following basketball shooting form tips (#'s 3-7) are things that I've noticed most of the top shooters in basketball history all share in common.

The first aspect of your shooting mechanics that most great shooters share in common involves how to hold the basketball in your shooting pocket.

The ideal way to hold the ball is by placing the ball on the fingertips of your shooting hand (palm off the ball), with your fingers spread wide and across the seams.


Fingers are spread wide on the basketball

Holding the ball in this way gives you the most control of the ball. When you prepare to shoot, the ball will be locked in and stay stable in your hand which will make it easier for you to shoot straight, more consistently. 

What I mean by placing your fingers over the seams means to have your fingertips slightly past the seams of the basketball, as indicated in the picture below. The fingertips are intersecting with the seams in a perpendicular fashion. 


Fingertips are just past the seams

As opposed to the picture below where this player does not have their fingertips over the seams. See how their fingertips are on top of the non-seam part of the basketball?


Fingers are spread which is good, but fingertips are not over the seams

You may have heard the term "find the seams" and that's what I'm referring to here. If you haven't focused on this before, try shooting with your fingers over the seams next time you practice. It adds a level of comfort and stability to your shooting hand on the ball as you shoot.

Guided Meditation: Pregame Meditation for Basketball >> 


4. Get Your Elbow In

Another critical aspect of your shooting form is getting your elbow in. Pretty much every shooting coach will mention this one. 

As you raise the ball up to start your shooting motion, you want to keep your shooting elbow tucked in. Keeping your elbow in maintains a straight line from the ball, down to your shooting wrist, down to your shooting elbow.

This makes it easier to shoot the ball straight.


Shooting elbow is in and straight

You'll be able to improve your shooting accuracy a lot with just this one tip alone.

The opposite of this is letting your elbow flare outwards as you raise the ball up. While there are a few players who do this (Kevin Durant is one, Ben Simmons is another), doing so will make it harder to shoot accurately and straight.


Shooting elbow is flared out

Shooting a ball is hard enough, so you want to do everything you can to make it as easy and as higher likelihood of success as possible. Keep that elbow in as you raise the ball up.

Read also: Top 50 Michael Jordan Quotes About Basketball and Life >> 


5. Get Your Elbow Up

A key part of your shooting motion that is necessary to shoot the basketball better is to get your elbow up on your release.

This means that instead of shooting with your elbow going far forward, you want to focus on your elbow going more in an upwards fashion (see the picture below).

A good reference point is to use the level of your eyes.

When you finish releasing the ball, you want your shooting elbow to finish at or above the level of your eyes. That's a good indicator you got your elbow high enough.

In the image below, you'll see how when I draw a line from the shooting elbow over to the head, it finishes above the player's eyes.


Shooting elbow finishes high, above eye level

Getting your elbow up on your release is what gives you good arc on your shot.

When you're able to shoot the basketball with proper arc, you give yourself more chance for the ball to go in. You increase your margin for error. The ball has a higher chance to go in when it's shot higher.

When it's shot more forward, or "flat," it has less of a chance of going in. See the image below for an example. Check out how the elbow is in line with this player's nose when it should be at his eyes or higher.


Shooting elbow finishes low, below eye level

This is tip is especially important for beginners and youth basketball players. Younger players tend to lack leg strength to shoot a ball and when they first learn to shoot they compensate by shooting with two hands or by "pushing the ball" - which means their shooting elbow goes more forward than upwards. 

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6. Avoid Guide Hand Interference

Great shooting form also involves avoiding guide hand interference.

This means getting your guide hand out of the way as you go to release the ball.

Check out the image below. This player's guide hand is already off the ball before he begins to push the ball forward with his shooting hand. 


Guide hand is off the ball before shooting and is still facing the ball

When it comes to shooting, you really are only shooting with one hand. Your guide hand is just there to help balance and stabilize the ball as you go through your shooting motion.

You'll know that your guide hand didn't interfere if your guide hand palm is facing the same way it was when it was holding the ball.

Again, look at the picture above - the guide hand is still facing the ball. It did not interfere with the shot in any way.

If you let your guide hand interfere (see picture below), part of your guide hand may interfere with the trajectory of your shot and push it off-course.

It's easy to tell if your guide hand interfered with your shot if it's facing a different direction than it was when it was on the ball.

In the picture below, this shooter's guide hand palm is now facing forwards, which indicates he may have flicked the ball with the guide hand and messed with the trajectory of the ball.


Guide hand is facing forward, indicating it was used to help shoot the ball

Before you begin to release the ball, take your guide hand off the ball by bending your wrist back and allow the ball to pass through.

You might like: How To Be Mentally Tough In Basketball >>


7. Perfect Your Follow-Through

The last part of your shooting form involves your follow-through.

As you actually shoot the ball, you want to flick your fingers forward, curl your wrist, and finish with your palm facing down.

This ensures you get good arc and shoot the ball straight.


Fingers are facing forward and down, palm is also facing down

In the picture above, this player did exactly that. Notice how his palm is facing straight down and his fingers are facing straight down and forward. 

It's also best to push the ball with your fingers still spread.

A common mistake that beginners make is to bring their fingers together as they shoot or to not finish with their palm and fingers facing down.

See in the image below how this player's palm and fingers are facing upwards? And they aren't curled either. It's extremely difficult to shoot consistently when you do this.


Fingers and palm are facing upwards

 Read also: Kyrie Irving Quotes On Basketball and Life >>


8. Stay Confident, Always

Becoming a better shooter isn't just about mechanics, although those certainly play a huge role. The other piece of the puzzle to being a great shooter in basketball is the mental side.

Your mindset - the thoughts and beliefs you have about your shooting abilities - plays a massive role in how well you shoot.

To shoot better in basketball, it's important to shoot each shot with confidence.

The confident shooter believes they're going to make every shot they take. Now, this doesn't guarantee you're going to make every shot you take, but it does increase your chances.

Having doubt in your shots on the other hand decreases your chances of making each shot.

Another thing is, when the confident basketball player doesn't make the shot they shoot, they stay confident.

They don't let it affect their confidence moving forward in any way. They maintain the belief that they'll make their next shot.

This confident mindset will have a huge positive influence on your shooting percentage and consistency.

For a deeper dive into shooting with confidence:

Video: How I Became A More Confident And Consistent Shooter >>

• Guided Meditation: Increase Your Shooting Confidence  >>

• 21 Affirmations to Increase Your Shooting Confidence - Article | Guided Meditation   >> 

• Article: Steph Curry Quotes on Shooting Confidence >>


9. Stay Locked In

Shooting is one of the hardest basketball skills to master. What's even harder is to shoot while distracted.

Distractions can come in the form of physical distractions like fans booing while you shoot or opponents trash-talking.

Or they can come in the form of mental distractions. Your own doubts about this upcoming shot, your own fears, or thoughts of shots you missed prior, or "what-if" thoughts should you miss this next shot.

These are all distracting as you shoot, and they make it harder to shoot efficiently.

When you're able to shoot without distractions, without a lot of thoughts clouding your mind, then you're going to increase your chances of success.

One way to become better at locking in while you shoot is to try not to overthink. Try not to worry about any shots you missed in the past, and try not to worry about any hypothetical situations.

Keep your attention and focus on the present: shooting this next shot to the best of your ability, and that's it.

For a deeper dive into getting locked in:

• Article: The Complete Guide to Getting in the Zone in Basketball  >>

• How to Lock In Before a Game (5 Ways) - Article | Video >>

• Video: How To Lock In When You're Feeling Distracted (3 Methods) >>


10. Don't Be Afraid To Miss

One of the best mental side of basketball tips I can share with you is to not be afraid to miss when you shoot.

Surprisingly, this will help you become a better shooter. Just like doubt decreases your chances of making a jump shot, so does fear.

Fear of missing a shot can be for a variety of reasons including being afraid of what people will think, being afraid to let yourself or other people down, or having fear of the consequences of missing (having to run, losing a game, etc).

Sometimes these fears are subconscious, meaning you aren't aware of them on the surface. Regardless, they can affect your shooting % negatively.

Another consequence of having fear when you shoot is you might become more hesitant to shoot. You might hesitate in the fourth quarter or pass up a potential game-winner because you're afraid of what it would mean if you missed.

When you play basketball without fear of missing, you'll want to shoot in every situation no matter how much pressure there is. No moment will be too great.

Be ready to shoot at all times and try to let go of the fear of missing. When you are mentally prepared to shoot at all times and you aren't afraid to shoot, you will shoot better because you'll free yourself from the added pressure.

Read also: The 24 Best Kobe Bryant Mamba Mentality Quotes  >>


11. Visualize Yourself Shooting

Visualization is a great mental technique to use to improve your overall shooting ability and should be a part of every basketball training program.

Visualization is when you close your eyes and you imagine yourself doing something in your mind's eye.

If you don't have time to shoot one day, you can visualize yourself doing your shooting workout and it will still be helpful. Studies have shown that getting mental reps through visualization is an effective way to enhance a skill or prepare for a performance.

Read more about visualization here: How to Mentally Prepare for a Basketball Game (5-Step Routine) >>

To help you shoot better, close your eyes and in your mind's eye, see yourself on the basketball court practicing and imagine your shooting success. See yourself shooting, and making, shot after shot. Do this for 5-10 minutes.

Also, as you visualize yourself shooting, imagine yourself feeling confident, locked in, and fearless too. The more you practice this, the more these feelings will carry over into your shooting. 

You can also use visualization as an opportunity to get comfortable shooting in pressure situations or in clutch moments.

By the way, you can use visualization to become a better player overall and improve your basketball skills besides shooting too.

Visualization Exercises:

• Guided Visualization: Manifest the Basketball Career of Your Dreams >>

• Guided Visualization: Increase Your Shooting Confidence  >>


12. Record Yourself Shooting


Filming yourself will help you get better at shooting because you'll be able to see what your form looks like from a third-person perspective.

Sometimes, you've shot a ball the same way so many times that it feels normal. And if there's a flaw in your shooting mechanics then you might not notice it.

But by filming yourself, you'll be able to take an objective look at your form and see which areas need improvement.

Take a video of yourself shooting from in front of you, behind you, and from both sides. This way you can really study every aspect of your form and, using the tips I've mentioned above, make corrections to your form where needed.

Work on those corrections and then film yourself again to compare.

You might like: Allen Iverson Quotes About Basketball, Practice, and Life >>


13. Watch Film Of The Best Shooters

Finally, watch video of the best shooters in basketball and see what you can take from their shot.

What can you learn? What patterns do you notice? 

By studying the great basketball shooters, you'll be able to compare their form and shooting mechanics to your own.

You may not be able to shoot the ball like Steph Curry, but you can certainly learn a thing or two by studying his shooting form.

Thanks for reading and I hope these basketball shooting tips help you improve your shooting ability!

Read also: How to Mentally Train for Basketball >>

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