shooting fundamentals

In today’s blog post, we’re going to begin talking about shooting fundamentals and essential shooting skills all players need to master for shooting success. In this new “Shooting Fundamentals” series of blog posts, I am going to take you all the way up through some advanced skills that will help you to be effective at any level of basketball competition that you will play. So be sure to subscribe to the blog to receive updates on next segments!

We’re going to jump right into the shooting fundamentals and skills. Whenever you teach basic shooting or whenever you desire to develop basic shooting in your players or within yourself as a player, we want you to remember two specific letters in the alphabet.

Holding The Ball

The first letter is the letter L.

This is the easiest way to teach young players how to shoot the ball.

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You are going to create the the letter L with your body. And all you’re going to do is balance your feet so that they’re square. And then you’re going to make a perfect L by bringing your arm out in front of you, raise it forward, and keep the bottom of the L level. From here, all you’ll have to do is put your hand back. The ball will go into the palm of her hand without touching the palm. Now, all she has to do at this point is bring her support hand, which will be her left hand, up to the ball and now she’s in a good shooting position to develop her fundamental skills.

We normally don’t hold the ball exactly in this position, but we teach with the L position because it’s easy memory for young players to pick up and develop.

Now I want to also show you the correct hand position on the ball. And the way that we do this, is we take our right hand and our left thumb and we’re going to form a T. So if I put the ball in your hand, your right hand – your right thumb – is going to touch your left palm and you’ll have a T movement that you can use to help you shoot effectively.

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The incorrect thing to do in these situations would be to have your hand in front of the ball, which forces you to pull the ball backwards and shoot, or to place your hand on top of the ball which, again, forces you to cling to the ball as you shoot and it slows down your shot and it forces you to pull your shot short.

So if you’re a young player or you’re a coach that wants to teach better shooting skills, two simple letters. We go to the L and make a simple L. You can put 100 players in a gym and you can teach them all the same skill at the same time.

The second letter is the T. We form a T with our right thumb and our left hand. And the ball goes in there. And now we’re ready to take them to the shooting skills to develop their fundamentals in close and work their way out.

Body Balance

Now that we’ve talked about hand position and how to properly hold the basketball when you want to shoot it, the next thing that we need to develop and perfect is our body balance. Let’s start from the bottom; we’ll work our way up.

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We always like to use lines to teach players what good habits are. Notice in the accompanying photo that the player is just inside a line, essentially creating two lines that are approximately 15″ apart. His feet are parallel.

And he will now go to a position which is triple threat. He’s in a bent position. He has good body balance. If you were to push him backwards, he’s on balance. If you push him forward, sideways, he has good body balance. If he were to lean straight back, with his back backwards and flat, he would not have good body balance. This is a good way, coaches, for you to test if a player has good body balance.

If he were to lean too far forward on the toes of his feet, again, he would be off balance and he would have a difficult time playing under control. If his feet are too narrow and he gets bumped, he’s going to travel and, again, he’ll be off balance. So we like to use lines to prepare players. Again, his feet will be shoulders’ width apart, approximately 12-15″.

He will bend his knees. His shoulders will always be directly above his knees, which is a good way for them to know if they have good balance. And the ball, as we talked about before, if he takes his left hand away, should always balance on the palm of his hand but never touch the palm.

This means he has perfect body balance and he’s prepared to shoot the basketball, he’s prepared to pass the basketball, or he is prepared to drive to the basket. This will make him a very effective offensive player.

Facing The Basket

The next stage of our development to help players become an effective shooter in the game of basketball is to get them in the habit of always facing the basket. Now we use a very simple drill for this. We develop it first without a ball in the player’s hands, and secondly, with a basketball in the player’s hands.

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This drill incorporates jump stopping, pivoting, and facing the basket in a triple threat or shooting position for right-handed players. Right-handed players are always going to pivot on their left pivot foot so that when they pivot to the basket, their lead foot is always their right foot, so the right half of their body is always ahead.

And when they shoot the basketball, they’re shooting with the right side of their body; they never have to come across their body to shoot and they’re not off balance.

We just go from one side of the foul line to the other side of the foul line. The player jump stops, and pivots in a triple threat. A jump stop provides a game situation drill that we need. It keeps players on balance and from traveling. And as he pivots into triple threat, he’s prepared to pass, shoot, or drive to the basket automatically.

In the next component, we’re going to work on correct pivot foot for left-handed players. The majority of players will be right-handed; however, we think it’s important to have the ability to teach skills for your left-handed players as well. The player is going to jump stop and he will pivot on his right foot. The ball should now be on his left shoulder pad.


If you enjoyed these shooting fundamementals and tips, be sure to check out my Basketball Drills & Practice Plans series, complete with video demonstrations, for more awesome shooting fundamentals and techniques!“  And don’t forget to Become a Fan on Facebook, where you can discuss these and more great shooting fundamentals & drills with other coaches and players!