The Basketball Jump Shot

Basketball Shooting Form Tips
Coaching Tips for Shooting Jump Shots
By Coach Jerry Tarkanian

No offensive weapon plays a more important role in the game of basketball than the jump shot. The jump shot has done more to change basketball in recent years than any other single phase of the game. Jump shooters give defenses nightmares. In addition, the jump shot has provided one of the main reasons for the higher scores in basketball today. On the pro level, for example, even the best defenders cannot consistently hold opposing teams under 100 points per game. They simply cannot stop the versatile, ever-present jump shot.

Dirk Nowitzki's Basketball Jump Shot

In a typical game, more baskets are scored by jump shots than by all other shots together. The jump shot might be termed today’s all-purpose shot because it can be taken from practically any angle by any player. For example, the turnaround jump shot is effective when the offensive player’s back is to the basket. Jump shots can be taken while the player is standing still or on the move in practically any direction. (In fallaway jumpers, the shooter is moving away from the basket.) The defender seldom knows in advance when the ballhandler is going to shoot, a fact that makes it virtually impossible to shut off his shot completely. The flexibility of the shot makes it difficult to defend against.

Mechanics of the Jump Shot

Usually, the jump shot is preceded by some form of movement, whether a dribble or foot or body motion. The first thing the jump shooter must do is position his feet in readiness for the jump. If the player is standing still, he may take a short step forward to create momentum for the jump. If he is dribbling laterally, he should pivot on the balls of his feet to square himself to the basket as he starts his jump. His knees must be bent, of course, and he should hold the ball with both hands close to his body. He should jump as high as possible, although the height of the jump is not as important as the timing involved and will vary with the shooter’s distance from the basket.

Basketball Shooting Techniques

As the shooter leaves the floor and rises into the air, he brings the ball up, keeping it close to his body until the ball is above his head at the top of his jump, or possibly even on the way down. (This position eliminates having too much body action in the shot.) Some jump shooters – Jerry Lucas was one – have been proficient in executing the jump shot from shoulder level, sighting over the top of the ball. However, the above-the-head position makes the shot more difficult for the defense to deflect if the shooter isn’t 6’10” like Lucas. In either position, the shooting elbow must be bent.

In executing the jump shot, the player must remember (1) to make a proper stop before shooting and (2) to jump up rather than forward. Stopping before shooting will permit the jump shooter to go straight up in his jump and thus will afford him better body balance. Jumping forward in going up for the shot gives an alert defender the opportunity to draw a charging foul on the shooter. It may be better to lean backward slightly (and away from the defender) than to jump into the defender, although leaning backward slightly makes following one’s shot to the boards more difficult.

Turnaround Jump Shot

The turnaround jump shot requires good footwork, since the shot is initiated with the shooter’s back to the basket. The right-handed shooter uses his left foot as his pivot foot in executing a turnaround jump shot. He takes a crossover step in front of his body with his right foot, pivoting on the ball of his left foot. His body is now facing the basket. His right foot is then brought close to his left foot. (This motion can be accomplished in one step if the shooter’s right foot can be placed close to his left foot without his losing balance.) A left-handed shooter uses his right foot as his pivot foot, stepping across his body to his right with his left foot in order to keep the ball protected by his body as he turns.

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