Basketball Shooting Tips

Shooting A Basketball - The Shooters Mindset
Basketball Shooting Fundamentals

Reggie Miller

What is the number one skill in basketball? Many basketball coaches might say man defense or ballhandling, but I believe that shooting a basketball is the number one basketball skill that basketball players need to develop... Shooting a basketball is fundamentally about making baskets and scoring points; everything else in the game of basketball was created either to increase the chances of scoring or to stop your opponent from scoring. Sure defense, ballhandling, passing, post play, and rebounding are all very important in the outcome of a game, but nothing is as important as shooting "lights out."

At every camp I have ever attended, a coach explains to the campers that coaches will always keep a player who can play defense and hustle. I say the easiest way to make a team is to be the best shooter; no coach will cut the best shooter at a try-out because every coach knows he must score, regardless of his defensive propensity.

Every coach has a shooting theory. While theories differ, they center on one goal: the ability to score consistently. The most important aspect is not the elbow or the legs, but the mind; Reggie Miller's shot is not fundamentally sound, but he is among the most prolific shooters the NBA has seen. Miller's success is due to two things: supreme confidence and his ability to get open to take and make big shots.

[Related: Play Book Basketball]

Basketball Shooting Tip - CONFIDENCE!

"Confidence is hard to teach; confidence is only born of one thing-demonstrated ability. It is not born of anything else. You cannot dream up confidence. You cannot fabricate it. You cannot wish it. You have to accomplish it. I think that genuine confidence is what you really seek that only comes from demonstrated ability," (Bill Parcels). Shooters have bad days and suffer through slumps, but great shooters, moreover great players, never allow their confidence to waver. Shooters have short memories and always believe their next shot is good. "Life is a collection of self-fulfilling prophecies" (John Naber); therefore, it is imperative that a shooter truly believes in himself and his shot. The confidence is more vital to success than any technique a coach can teach.

Great shooters never think about missing; once the negative enters the mind, the chances for success are lessened. Michael Jordan said: "I never looked at the consequences of missing a big shot. Why? Because when you think about the consequences, you always think of a negative result." Jordan was not a phenomenal shooter, but at the end of the game, nobody is better. The pressure never affected Jordan; it raised his level of play, sharpened his focus. He believed the shot was going in, so a game winning shot never had added pressure. His confidence created a calm enabling him to knock down the big shots.

Basketball Shooting Tip - GET OPEN!

Players must be able to catch the ball in a position to score, or all the confidence in the world will not allow him to make a shot. Therefore, the ability to move without the ball is imperative to a player's success, especially since the average player possesses the ball for an average of one minute per game. Players must be hard to guard without the ball; constantly working on skills with the ball is not enough. Players must work to improve their ability to play when the ball is not in their hands.

Basketball Shooting Tip - THINK SHOT!

Basketball shooters will think shot every time they catch the ball. A shooter has to shoot, and shooters possess this mentality. In order to shoot the ball when they receive it, players must catch the ball with knees bent in a position to shoot the ball, with body already squared to the basket. When receiving a pass, players should attempt to catch on a one count for a quicker shot, and turn their body to face the basket while in the air. This will not always be possible; however, it should remain the goal, to land with body facing the basket, knees bent and ball in the shooting position, ready to immediately shoot the ball.

Great basketball shooters will know when they receive the pass whether they are open for the shot or not. They will anticipate and think a play ahead. As the player waits to receive the pass, moving to an open spot, he will gauge the proximity of the nearest defender and the speed of the closeout; he will know upon reception whether he is open for the shot, or whether he should take one dribble away from the closeout or pump fake and then dribble to an opening. Great shooters have a feel, they anticipate, rather than react and therefore find the opening and take the shot, while others catch the ball and are easily defended. Against a zone defense, a shooter will find the gap in the zone, or a soft spot, positioning himself equidistant from the nearest two defenders to maximize the closeout distance. He will catch the ball ready to shoot, and shoot the ball with no wasted motion.

Basketball Shooting Tip - Be Hard to Guard!

A great shooter will stay in motion, becoming hard to guard without the ball. He will know how to read screens and the defense in order to create openings. Larry Bird, one of the best shooters ever, was said to be the "master of the half inch." He needed only the slightest amount of room to shoot or the slightest advantage to get a step and drive on his defender. He created this advantage with movement and his ability to read screens. Reggie Miller plays the game in a similar manner; he is like the Energizer Bunny on offense. However, he doesn't just run around; he cuts with a purpose. He reads the defense so he can flare or curl, he sees the switch and punishes it. He wears out defenders through his motion and he scores with his ability to find an opening and shoot the ball.

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