Skip to content » Tips » A Beginner’s Guide To Basketball Shooting Fundamentals

A Beginner’s Guide To Basketball Shooting Fundamentals

Basketball Shooting Fundamentals
Last Updated on: March 3, 2023

Basketball Shooting Fundamentals

Undoubtedly the most important part of a basketball game is shooting the ball into the basketball hoop. Knowing how to shoot the ball accurately isn’t as easy as it sounds, though. Players often overlook this aspect of the game and end up being great at attacking, rebounding, and defending but their shooting remains subpar. This is why having great basketball shooting fundamentals is the first and most important part of any training system.

The proper basketball shooting fundamentals when it comes to stationary shooting consist of keeping your eyes on the target, maintaining a good stance, keeping balance, having a good grip, proper upforce and landing, and other additional techniques which all help you get to that perfect shot. When you are moving, things are a little different but when people learn fundamentals they do it from a stationary position and then gradually build their way up to a more dynamic environment. 

Before I dive into the various shooting drills and tips I have prepared for you, I want to address something which is far more important than any drill out there – consistency. I keep repeating it to anyone who I train and advice about basketball. As long as you are consistent with what you do, you will never be bad at anything. Try practicing at least an hour a day just to keep your muscles engaged and keep hardwiring your brain to the movements associated with the sport (no matter which one).

Now, let’s get into the fundamentals which will take your shooting to the next level…

Keep Your Eyes On Your Target

This is something I’ve talked in my previous articles as well. No matter where and how you train, you should always keep your head up and watch for your teammates and the basketball rim. When shooting, the same principles apply.

You need to locate the rim as early as you can in order to be more precise in your shot. Of course, this is valid for a more dynamic training. When doing stationary shooting you should just keep your eyes on the rim and focus on a different part of it. Some coaches say that you should focus on the front end of the rim and try putting the ball a little further behind it, or focus on the back part of the rim and try putting the ball a little further ahead of it, in other words – in the middle. You can also focus on the middle of the rim and try getting the ball through there but those are advanced tactics.

Pro Tip: Do not follow the flight path of your ball. When you do that you lose precious moments of observing the game and its players and basically get distracted by something you cannot control anymore.

Focus On Your Stance

Your stance is basically your balance. The sturdier it is, the more balanced you will be when throwing the ball (jumping). The feet should be at shoulder width for optimal balance and should always be slightly staggered. Play with the stance until you feel which is the most comfortable one for you.

Your “main” leg, or “shooting leg” as they call it should be a little more to the front than the other and both feet should be pointing at the direction towards which you are shooting. You can keep your feet slightly more open than just directly pointing at the basketball rim. In general, there are two stances:

  • Open Stance
  • Closed Stance (squared stance)

With the open one, your feet point at one side of the basket, while the squared stance is pointing at the rim. Your knees should also bend every time you shoot. Don’t stiffen up your body.

When you figure out the most comfortable stance for your body, replicate it every time. As I said, consistency is key, and maintaining the same stance throughout your shooting drills is key.

The Shot Pocket

When you catch the ball from a pass or from your last dribble, move it into your shot pocket. The most important thing here is to line your shooting eye, the ball, and the basket in a single straight line.

The shot pocket is at a different place for each player but usually it is several inches above the waist. When in there, adjust your grip of the ball and prepare to shoot it. Every time you go through this process make sure you use the same shot pocket. Over time you will get used to it and it will become a natural part of your shooting. Once you are done with finding it, it’s time to move on to the next part…

Grip, Balance, Jump, Shoot!

young man with basketball ball throwing basket

When gripping the ball, the air hole should be left between your middle and index fingers. Your finger pads (remember those?) should be parallel to the long seams of the basketball. That allows you to keep an eye on the backspin. When the ball is in your hand, there should be room between it and the palm of your hand. Your fingers should be spread widely

The non-shooting hand should be at either side of the ball (depending on which is your main hand) and keep the ball balanced. It is important to not add any additional force or spin with your balancing hand. The balancing hand should also be the first of the two to come off the ball when shooting.

Do you want to jump higher than any other basketball player in your area? Check out the Vert Shock program and the review I did on it to see whether it is the right thing for you.

The Delivery

When you start shooting the ball should have an upward motion from your shot pocket to your shooting stance. The elbow of the main hand should be bellow the ball.

Pro Tip: The basketball should never be behind your head.

When the shooting is initiated, uncoil your slightly flexed body. Extend the main hand’s wrist and elbow in a straight line to the rim. Once again, your supporting hand should influence neither the power or the trajectory of the throw. What you are aiming for is a perfectly symmetrical backspin.

The Jump & The Landing

On your way up, release the ball. Make sure you feel the kinetic energy and transfer it from your body to the ball. This energy is at its peak right before the highest part of your jump – this is when you need to release the ball. The part of your body that generates this force are your legs and this is why you should keep them in good condition throughout your training. Landing on the same spot means you have good balance and a tight jump shot.

Following Through

Following through your shot is very important. Once you throw the ball, your hands should be relaxed and your fingers should point at the basket. Keep your fingers there until the ball hits the target but don’t follow the ball’s path in the air with your eyes. Keep them set on the target. Hold the position until the ball hits the basket.

After you are done learning the fundamentals of basketball shooting, it will be time to move on to shooting drills. I have dedicated a whole article on that topic. Click here if you want to check it out.

Related Questions

Where Do You Aim When Shooting A Basketball?

Your elbow should be above your eyebrows and your fingers should be pointing down when shooting. Look at the front part of the basketball rim and focus on getting the ball over it or look at the back side of it and focus on getting the ball just in front of it. If you want to step up your accuracy game you can concentrate and look at the middle of the ring and focus on getting the ball through that exact spot.

How Can I Be A Better 3 Point Shooter?

My suggestion is to start close to the rim and wait until you only score all-nets. Once you get to that point move a step back. Repeat this process until you reach the 3-point line. Once you are at the 3-point line continue shooting until you perfect your shot.

A great idea is to start near the rim every time you practice and build your way up. That way you will learn shooting from different positions along the way.

How Can I improve My Basketball At Home?

The first and most important thing you have to do in order to practice ball at home is to designate an area in your place where you will play. That is a bit harder for people living in apartments than those in houses since you will have to find a place where you won’t ruin the lives of the people living below you. If you have a driveway, I strongly suggest into using that, as most driveways often have concrete as their foundation which is ideal for basketball. Practice passing the ball at a certain spot at the wall. That way your pass will become far more accurate.

Pro Tip: Make a circle in the wall which will be your teammate. Try passing the ball to that circle from different positions (even when moving).

Practice dribbling and ball handling when going in a circle around the ball. That will improve your control and wrist movements. The best results come when you use a smaller ball and build your way to a full-size rubber basketball.

Final Words

Having the right basketball shooting fundamentals is one of the most important aspects of basketball training. It all starts from there. Players nowadays don’t seem to drill on shooting too much, and instead focus on game tactics, defences, rebounds, etc. Shooting is and will always be the most important part of the game, as it is the thing that gets your team the Win. If you build your fundamentals right, everything from then onwards will be added on a solid base and will jump improve your style further.