Learn how to shoot a basketball better and make any type of shot attempt with high shooting percentage: lay-ups, hook shots, floaters, bank shots, jump shots, free-throws, midrange pullups, fadeaways and step backs, and of course, the three point shot.
Every good player at every position needs to learn how to shoot a basketball properly, consistently, and fearlessly to score with high shooting percentage.
The problem is most players fail to invest the time to learn, practice, and master the skill of shooting.
This guide helps you from start to finish: from understanding the basics to practicing the right way to shoot the ball accurately under high pressure.
You’ll get time-tested tips on becoming a great shooter, a savage competitor, and lifelong winner.
The BEEF Technique: Basic Shooting Form
The BEEF concept breaks down every shot into 4 components:
- Fire (Follow-through)
Form shooting is a basic shooting drill: you shoot dozens and dozens of shots during warm-up or practice, from 3-5 feet in front of the rim to practice learning and developing your shooting technique from start to finish. It’s a boring drill because it’s easy to make shots from close to the basket, but it’s a smart drill, because it’s the quickest way to improving your mechanics, building muscle memory and mastering your shooting motion so you can shoot accurately far away from the basket.
Shooting is made up of a whole bunch of tiny mechanics, so when practicing form shooting, focus on each tiny mechanic one at a time, until you start to shoot like a confident and natural shooter.
A great shooter takes more form shots than anyone they know, so they shoot a basketball better than everyone they know.
Why? Because most players, from the first time they pick up a ball, start outside-in. Not inside-out. They practice hero shots and have bad shooting habits. They don’t work on their basketball shooting form. They don’t pay attention to their shooting technique. Most don’t even know form shooting exists. Standing and shooting a basketball in front of the rim is not as exciting as shooting a basketball from beyond the three point line.
Great shooters get it. They only shoot away from the basket after they master shooting drills in front of the rim.
Look at the shooting technique of the world’s greatest shooters like Ray Allen, Steph Curry, Kyle Korver, coach Dave Hopla. They all swear by form shooting near the basket.
Before every warmup or practice, put up 25, 50, 100 form shots to develop proper shooting habits.
If your shot is off, put up form shots in between quarters or pickup games.
Now that you understand the basic, beginner fundamental BEEF concept of shooting, you can advance to practicing it and mastering it.
Good shooting starts with great balance
It’s simple: you miss most of your shot attempts, because your shooting motion lacks balance and rhythm.
If proper shooting is science, then balance is about physics. It’s the motion, momentum and mechanics between your body, the ball, and the basket. A great shooter understands this.
Proper balance prevents you from bricking your shot too far left, too far right. It prevents you from giving the shot too little power or too much power. Balance centers you, so you can shoot the ball in a straight line to the center of the rim. Balance is how to shoot a basketball with bullseye precision.
Shooting Tips on Balance
- As you catch the ball, or pick up your dribble, ready to shoot, drop your feet immediately
- Chop your feet in one-two step motion or both feet in one motion, landing on the balls of your feet
- Plant both feet shoulder width apart; keep heels off the ground
- Square both your shoulders and your feet with the rim
- As you step into your shot, create a straight line between your right heel and left toes
- Line up both feet with the rim: left foot with the left arc of the rim, etc
- Bend your knees and hips straight down
- Invert your knees and feet (see Dirk’s stance below)
Notice the width in Dirk’s feet right before he dips low with his knees. His feet aren’t flat – his heels are up, and will go slightly higher as his knees come down. Both feet are shoulder width apart.
If you’re ever struggling to shoot the ball well, remember that Klay Thompson credits balance for his fluid shooting motion and high shooting percentage.
In high pressure games, a great shooter maintains laser focus on taking shots where momentum is taking him in directions away from the basket.
Elbows line up your shot with the rim
Shooting coach Dave Hopla believes bad elbows are the reason most players shoot poorly. Even pros like Joakim Noah are guilty of it. Most players don’t realize the importance of elbows in aiming your shot and slinging the ball.
Once you’re balanced and ready to fire, lift the ball with your elbows in alignment with the rim. For most players, the natural shooting position for is 90 degrees between their hand and elbow, aligned with their knee. Some players like Ray Allen, Reggie Miller, or Peja Stojakovic have a wider elbow stance.
It’s not impossible to shoot well with elbows out, but if you must, you have to over-correct with other mechanics in your shooting arm to shoot accurately.
Shooting elbow positions that matter:
- Basket: line shooting elbow to the center of the rim, diagonal alignment
- Body: line shooting elbow with your knees, vertical alignment
- Vision: shooting elbow up to your eye level, horizontal alignment
- Hand / elbow: 90 degrees for optimal arc and release on the shot
All of these placements and alignments matter because the elbows help you release the ball with proper arc, distance and trajectory.
Elbow placement also helps you center the ball in your shooting hand, so you don’t shoot gripping the side of the ball.
Non-shooting elbow should remain relaxed to prevent power coming from the other side of the ball. The main purpose of the non shooting hand is to guide the shot and help release the ball on target.
The shot goes where the eyes go
It sounds obvious but in the heat of the moment, players often rush their shots, shooting the ball at the hoop, but not into them. A great shooter or scorer is able to shoot into the rim with high precision.
Your eyes must be locked onto the target (the bullseye part of the rim)every time.
Even when Michael Jordan shot the infamous free throw with his eyes closed, his mind’s eye was locked in on the target.
When good shooters practice, they’re aiming to make every basket.
When great shooters practice, they’re aiming to swish every basket.
There’s a mental difference because sharpshooters don’t just want to rattle the ball into the basket, they want to become so precise with their shot, that they hit bullseye every time, and that’s why most of Steph Curry’s made baskets are crisp swishes that barely touch the rim.
Timeless Shooting Tips:
- You can see and aim for the bullseye part of the rim from anywhere on the basketball court
- Eyes can also deceive defenders; master the eyes and eyebrows to master pump fakes.
- There’s no red dot in the dead-center of the rim, but you can train yourself to see it with great practice. You can also use the SKLZ Training tool below:
Fire without hesitation; Follow through always
Once you commit to the shot, fire the shot and hold your follow through every shot attempt. Now that you have t
Grip the ball softly with your finger pads
Avoid using your palm, otherwise the ball sticks and prevents you from lifting the shot, and instead pushing it. Using the tips of your finger pads helps you release the ball with proper arch, distance, and trajectory
Spread your Fingers Wide on the Ball
Doing so prevents the ball from spinning out left or right, and instead gives you the straight shot and proper backspin.
Release the ball with only your shooting hand
When it comes to your release, two hands are not better than one. In archery and hunting, you don’t pull the trigger with 2 hands. The shooting hand fires, the non shooting hand guides. Shooting the ball with 2 hands complicates things. Train the shooting hand for power, the guide hand for precision.
Flick with your index & middle finger of your shooting hand
Tim Grover, Michael Jordan’s trainer, believes you shouldn’t use all 5 shooting fingers equally, but instead just the thumb, and mainly the index and middle finger. Limiting your shot release to just 3 fingers gives you better control over the flight of the ball.
Grover felt so strongly that he developed the Splytter Shooting Aid just so that players can better train their shooting hand’s index and middle finger to stay wide and strong during the shot.
Many shooting trainers and coaches today teach players that the index finger should be the last to touch the ball before it flies to the rim.
Keep your Elbow Raised and Straight as You Fire Shot
If you do this correctly, it’ll be easier to wrinkle your wrist as you cock back your shooting hand with the ball.
Wrinkle Your Wrist
Catapult your wrist back far enough to see a wrinkle on your wrist. Getting your fingers and elbow under the ball give you greater momentum to finish your follow-through.
Finish Shot with a Flick of the Wrist Every Time
Proper Shooting using BEEF Technique Summary
The BEEF shooting technique is made up of many smaller motions and there’s no way to focus on these during games. However, you can practice with good form shooting by focusing on each shooting motion at a time. For example, you can practice a 100 form shots focusing fully and only on balance mechanics, and then doing the same for elbow mechanics, and so on.
- Hold the ball as you prepare to go into shooting motion
- Chop your feet immediately to gain balance
- Bend your knees shoulder width apart to center yourself
- Position your shooting hand, elbow, knee and right foot (right handed shooter) with the front of the rim
- Lift the ball, raise your elbow up to your eye level for a high release point
- Line your eyes with the bullseye part of the rim
- Keep your dominant hand and elbow perpendicular, 90 degrees.
- Secure but relax the ball on the index and middle finger pads of your dominant hand
- Let the ball fly with a full flick of the wrist
- Hold the follow through
A great basketball player develops good form and strong shooting skills only after thousands of repetitions in practice. The best part about form shooting drills is that it’s so close to the basket, you’re not chasing long rebounds all over the basketball court and wasting time and energy. You are literally able to shoot 1000 shots in less than 30 minutes of practice.
Mental Tips of Good Shooting Skills
Growth Mindset leads to comfortable shooting
Start with the belief that like you, your jump shot is a constant work-in-progress. Don’t focus on labels and other self-limiting beliefs. Accurate, natural, comfortable shooting takes years of continuous improvement. Stay the course. If you believe you can become a good shooter, you will. Avoid the fixed mindset.
The problem with this fixed mindset is that you’ll eventually be right, you’ll achieve your small goals, and then stop growing, stop learning, and stop competing.
Ask the hard questions all great players ask
Why do you play?
What do you enjoy about the game?
Who are you really competing and playing for?
The truth is that the general population of ball players falls into two groups: players with a fixed mindset who hoop “just because” and players with a growth mindset who hoop for deeper, personal, more purposeful reasons.
One group makes up ~99% of the population; the other only 1%. And it’s not because of born talent. It’s a choice you can make as a kid, as a young adult, or as a grown man/woman. The choice begins with the right questions.
Level yourself to your reality
Grade school students: Do you play on your school’s team? Do you compete in youth basketball leagues at local park districts? Is your goal to play for your high school team? Or do you simply play for fun during recess or after-school with your friends and strangers?
High school students: Do you casually play because it’s fun to hoop with friends, or because you’re on the HS basketball team? Is playing college ball your goal?
College students: Ditto; do you play at your school’s rec center? In intramural leagues and tournaments? Or do you play on your college team with the goal of playing pro ball?
Working professionals: What brings and keeps you coming back to your local gym or playing in local tournaments/leagues? Do you still play regularly or are you too busy with work, family and other priorities?
Set your own goals, and go one day at a time. It’s okay if you don’t make it to college, the NBA or the WNBA. Better to keep trying and working than to give up, and let time pass you by.
Basketball may be life, but life isn’t basketball only
The truth is most of us won’t hoop for a living. Our priorities come first, as they should: to lead a family, to complete your education, to advance in your career, to look after your body and health, to manage your time and money wisely…
Which means that right around the time after college, your commitment to basketball decreases.
Nobody escapes this law of life, but still, most of us stop setting foot in the gym because we’re making excuses.
Keep the growth mindset active by making time to hoop, and you’ll see the dividends pay off off-the-court in these other areas of life.
Like Kobe and others have noted, basketball isn’t a game of checkers, but chess. If chess can develop life skills, so can basketball.
6) Appreciate Every Man and Woman Athlete that Shatters the Glass Ceiling
We can sit around on our phones, and on our coaches criticizing those that make it to the big leagues: everyone from players, coaches, journalists, referees, managers, etc. After all, basketball is a spectator sport.
But remember this from Teddy Roosevelt:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
Appreciate those who make it to the top of the top of any sport or profession, because it’ll inspire you to keep you pursuing whatever your own goals are.
Our parents, teachers and friends will always be our closest role models, but the athlete stars that feel so distant, aren’t that far away: we can learn plenty from them in our own living room about excelling at anything, whether it’s about shooting a basketball better during pickup ball, or handling adversity and criticism at an extremely young age.
Basketball Shooting is the Most Fun Skill Ever
All seriousness aside, what’s more fun in life than shooting a basketball and swishing the net?
Being able to shoot layups, shots from the free throw line, the three point line and everywhere in between is one of the greatest feelings anyone can ever experience. Do you really need motivation to work on your shot? It’s a feeling that never gets boring, even if you’re the gym rat launching 500+ shots per day.
Become a student of the game
People may call you a winner, and that might boost your ego.
People may call you a loser, and that might bruise your ego.
But when you see yourself a student, your ego is subdued, neutralized and out of your way.
Remind yourself this message over and over during hot streaks and during the cold slumps. Never too high, never too low.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
– Lao Tzu
The Full Game of Basketball: Shooting is only 1% of the playing
What do good shooters do when they don’t have the ball in their hands — on both ends of the floor — that helps them shoot better?
R&B. They establish rhythm and breathing. On defense and offense, players spend about 90-95% of the time without the ball in their hands.
The constant movement requires each player to move in all sorts of patterns of bursts and drifts; backpedals and sprints; long strides and choppy steps; straight-line cuts and straight-up jumps.
The smarter you expend your energy, the steadier you breathe, and the more you shoot with confidence, balance and ease. These are the qualities of all great shooters, no matter how different they are.
On Offense And Defense: Basketball isn’t just about even for
Good shooters move well off-the-ball to free themselves up for open shots. When they make those, they open up more opportunities for the rest of their offense due to increased spacing. On the the other end, playing solid defense and grabbing rebounds helps shooters find rhythm and confidence which helps them on good nights and bad.
Small Changes in Mechanics and Mindset, Big Gains in Performance & Ability
What small steps can we take to see the gradual and the occasional spike in the improvement of our shooting accuracy?
By breaking down each into tiny steps, from the initial crouch to the final follow-through, we can understand how our mind trains its muscle memory. The better we can understand these sequences, the better we can train our mind. Simply correcting the way you see the rim or complete the follow-through can make a big difference in short-term and long-term results.
No such thing as a shooting form that’s better than yours
In shooting, the most popular question is What’s the Best / Perfect Form?
There’s no such thing as a form that’s perfect. It’s about discovering one that allows you to take a good shot every time you let the ball fly.
How to Shoot a Basketball when practicing
Are you shooting around or working out when you practice in the gym? Are you intentional or are you on the basketball court for fun? There’s no wrong answer, but if you want to become an effective shooter, you need to be intentional.
You need to finish your drills. Do them at game speed. Once you commit, no self negotiation.
Jump Shot Varieties
Point blank range, short range, mid-range and long-range three point shots. How to find your sweet spots from each of these scoring spots in the half court.
Comfort and Confidence in getting each shot off with your most natural and accurate shooting form are the key, whether you’re taking layups, free throws, bank shots or jump shots from beneath or beyond the 3-point line.
Jump Shot Effort: From Manual to Automatic to AutoMagic
What is an automatic jump shot and how do you develop one? By taking your manual out of it.
Once you can learn how to shoot a basic jump shot with good form, you need to learn to automatic it. You need to shoot without thinking. And you need to do it against easy and tough competition, alike.
Routine Basketball Habits
How can we make more time – while having jobs, classes, and personal responsibilities – to get to the gym regularly and get your workouts in?
Motivation is overrated.
What you really need to start and keep regular gym habits is a routine that integrates well into your schedule that you can’t afford to give up. Here are some good resources, backed by research about sticky habits.
Read about developing productive shooting habits.
Measure your basketball shooting progress
If you want to improve, you need baselines and goals: where you were yesterday, what you practice today and how you perform tomorrow. You need to know your numbers.
How to Catch Fire Shooting a Basketball in Games
Remember when Klay Thompson torched the Kings defense by scoring 37 points in that crazy 3rd quarter last season?”
Fire is a state of mind more than it is a spontaneous basketball combustion that happens randomly. Shooters have to believe they’re always on fire at all times, even when they’re not, and this is the confidence that leads to more games with consistently sharp shooting.
If you practice shooting your shot enough from different spots on the floor, with different release points, and under challenging practice conditions, you will gain more confidence and better understand the importance of faking or being confident in your shooting at all times.
How to shoot a basketball like your favorite players: watch tape
How can you learn more about shooting by watching film or watching games on TV of your favorite shooters or of yourself in order to detect corrections and improvements?
Pay attention to the details in slow motion and understand what helps and hurts shooters. Tape helps players shoot better by the power of visualization. Learn how to observe shooting with a keener eye. Watch your favorite basketball players shoot a basketball or perform shooting drills on YouTube at slow speeds (.50X normal speed). Watch how professionals approach details like how to bend your knees as you get ready to shoot the ball whether it’s a free throw or a shot from the three point line. Or how they raise their shooting arm.
Shooting Devices, Aids & Accessories
A ball and a hoop are all you need to work on your shooting, but incorporating tools into shooting drills have helped players over a long period of time. Use them to supplement your basketball workouts.
You can mix up your workouts with a wide variety and styles of shots, like fade-away and turnaround jumpers or half-court chucks, but remember that these shots are rarely good shots to take in games.
You’re not Kobe or Jordan and as much fun as it is to emulate their shots, every shot you take must be a disciplined good shot. So, in your shooting workouts and drills, work on LONHOBIRS: Layups or No-Hand (in your face) On Balance and In Rhythm Shots.
Here is a list of basketball shooting drills and workouts that are aimed at helping you how to shoot a basketball.
Learn more about LONHOBIRS shot selection.
How to Shoot a Basketball and become a Great Shooter
Learning how to shoot a basketball isn’t just about shoot the ball better. It becomes a passionate pursuit and you better appreciate the game of basketball, the true greatness of legendary basketball players, how they practice good shooting, how you too can practice like them and become a good basketball player.
How your favorite NBA players shoot
Vince Carter Jump Shot
Zach LaVine Jump Shot
John Wall Jump Shot
Kevin Love Jump Shot
CJ McCollum Jump Shot
Michael Jordan Jump Shot
Chris Paul Jump Shot
Chauncey Billups Form
Tim Duncan Form
Mike Bibby Form
Anfernee Hardaway Form
Mike Conley Form
JJ Redick Form
Reggie Miller Form