How To Correct Your Shooting Form
Not all players that can shoot have good form. All players that have good form can shoot. Agree or disagree? Think about all the good shooters you’ve ever watched and ask yourself - is there something that they all have to be able to do in order to be a knockdown shooter?
Yes - practice. The reality is that you can have some imperfections in your shot, but if you practice your shot all the time, you’ll still be able to become a great shooter. But, there are definitely certain aspects of a shooting form every player should strive to have, so that they can maximize their consistency for every type of shot that they take.
If your form is fundamentally the same on your catch and shoots as it is off the dribble, from three point as it is from mid-range - you’ve mastered your shot.
There are many common mistakes players make in their shooting forms and it usually comes as a result of habits they started when they were younger. Some players may have been too weak to get the ball to the hoop with good form. Others may have tried to change their shot as they got stronger and developed a habit that they could never really break from.
One thing you should know though is that even if you have one of these “mistakes” in your form, it does not necessarily mean you're a bad shooter or that you're going to be a bad shooter.
But, if you want to develop maximum consistency and you feel like your current form isn’t where you need it to be, let’s jump into how you can go about correcting your shooting form.
Start In Close
Any time you have an issue with your shot, get your confidence back by shooting from in close and then working your way out. So, for every mistake we talk about fixing, the drill will always be form shooting or close shooting from right in front of the hoop to about 8 feet out, respectively.
Video Your Shooting
There’s a lot you can gain from videoing your shot so that you can pinpoint exactly what is going on. When I’m using the Swish Hoop Player App, I record my shots so that if I have a bad session or a really good session I can go back and see what my form looked like.
Record from multiple angles. Let’s say you’re shooting from the free throw line. When you record from in front or behind you, you get a great view at making sure your elbow is in, your guide hand isn’t affecting your shot and that you’re landing straight with good balance.
When you record from the sideline, you get a great view to see if your follow through is fully extended, if you’re balanced and if you have good posture.
From any angle, you get to see the rhythm of your shot. Are you in one fluid motion or are you hitching at the top of your shot? There’s a lot you can observe just by videoing your shot, so even if you don’t have a Swish Hoop, use your phone camera to record your shooting every now and then to study yourself.
4 Common Shooting Mistakes
Your shot mechanics is the start-to-finish motion that you shoot the ball. It’s what you do in your shot. Four common mechanical issues are:
1) Thumb of your guide hand
2) Shooting hand elbow is out
3) Hitch in your shot
4) Footwork Causing Imbalance
Here’s what you should do if you find any of these to be an issue in your shot:
Thumb of Your Guide Hand
What You’re Doing:
The thumb in your guide hand is gripping on the ball for a little too long causing a sideways backspin. When you’re following through, your guide hand finishes open with your palm facing the rim.
How to Fix it:
Shadow form shooting. As if you were shooting with two hands, remove your guide hand slightly, so that it’s just barely off the ball. You may need to adjust your shooting hand placement to make sure your wrist is directly under the middle of the basketball and your fingers are spread to evenly hold the basketball.
Keep your guide hand vertical. Don't put inwards pressure on the ball. Your "guide" hand is not meant to help you do anything other than balance the ball, so if it's helping you push the basketball, go back to working on getting your shooting hand wrist under the middle of the basketball.
Shooting Hand Elbow Is Out
What You’re Doing:
If your elbow is out, it could be because your shooting hand is not under the middle of the basketball at your set point. Whether you're a 2 motion shooter that stops at your set point or a 1 motion shooter that keeps the ball moving through your set point, your hand is not under the middle of the ball at this point in your shot. Rather, your fingers are pointing inwards, not to the basket and your elbow is not under your wrist.
How to Fix It:
You need to isolate your ability to hold the basketball properly with just your shooting hand. Do 1 handed form shooting, get your wrist under the basketball and your elbow under your wrist.
A lot of great shooters shoot with their elbow slightly out, so this is not a dealbreaker for having good form, but it's important to understand that these shooters have put in an incredible amount of repetitions shooting the way that they shoot. For younger players or anyone looking to shoot more efficiently, building a more effortlessly, repeatable shot with your wrist under the middle of the basketball and your elbow under your wrist will allow you to not have to be as perfect in all of your jump shots.
If tucking the elbow under your wrist is uncomfortable, allow your elbow to be slightly out. Again, we don't need our elbow to be completely under our wrist, it's just the textbook way we teach it to keep good alignment. On your follow through, emphasize finishing with your hand straight toward your target.
Hitch In Your Shot
What You’re Doing:
The ball is being pulled back and stopping in its flight path at the top of your shot, also known as your set point, before going forward. You’re focused on getting it above or to the side of your head, but then you lose the power from your legs and now have to rely mostly on your upper body strength to get the shot to the rim.
Because of this, your shot is likely to be flat.
If you can jump high or are a bigger player in general, it isn’t necessarily an issue to have that two-motion shot as you can get your shot off above the defense. But, when you start holding the ball a little too long - you’re hitching, losing the momentum you generated in your shot and decreasing the potential of your shooting range.
How to Fix It:
I want you to think about pushing vs. pulling the basketball. If you want to develop a fluid one-motion shot, your ball's flight path is going to go straight up through your body to your set point and forward. This means you're not going to pull the basketball up, but rather push - up and forward.
This also means you're not going to let the ball stop in your shot. It is all one fluid motion. When you’re practicing this, start by dropping your hips and loading the basketball in your mid section area. Then raise the ball to get your wrist under it and start to push through your hips and arms to extend up. The ball travels first, then your base gives you that added power as you extend up.
Footwork Causing Imbalance
What You’re Doing:
Balance issues start from the ground up, so something with your feet placement needs work. Your feet could be too close together, your dominant foot could be pointed inward, or you’re leaning back on your shot altogether. Any of these can cause you to be off-balance and worse - keep you from being as consistent a shooter as you can be.
How to Fix It:
Make sure you’re landing in the same direction you jumped from. If your feet are perfectly square to the hoop on your jump, you should land perfectly square. If your feet are slightly pointed in one direction, they should land slightly pointed in that same direction. Landing forward is OK as a lot of great shooters have a feet sweep motion, but landing backwards or with your non-shooting hand foot forward means you're having balance issues, so be aware of where you’re landing in relation to where you take off from.
Focus on doing these three things in your shot with your footwork:
1. Keep the same distance between your feet (about shoulder width)
2. Point both of your feet in the same direction
3. Land straight up and down or forward, not backwards or leading with the non-shooting foot
Best Time to Fix Your Shot
The best possible time to start fixing your shot is the day after your winter season ends. I would not recommend anybody try changing their shot in the middle of a season because you may overthink everything, mix your current habits with what you’re trying to develop and also lose confidence in yourself in the process.
Wait until the offseason to make any major changes to your shot.
Stay In Close
If you really want to fix your form, it all starts in close and you stay there for a long time. Thousands-of-shots a long time.
As much as you’re going to want to move back, think about the long-term. By rushing this process, you may create issues in other parts of your shot and as a result spend more time trying to fix multiple issues.
If you stay patient, put in a lot of perfect, intentional reps and stay committed, you’ll build the muscle memory in your shot needed to be a consistently good shooter.
Every Rep Counts
I can’t stress this point enough. It’s one thing to get 500 shots up a day, it’s another thing to be completely locked in and shoot 500 intentional shots. While you’re shooting, you should focus only on how your body is shooting the basketball. Process how you're shooting the basketball so that you know how to repeat what you're doing or detect when you've made a mistake.
By doing this, you’re not just getting shots up, you’re really working on your shot and your mind to develop the right muscle memory. Every rep counts.
If you’re doing all of these things right and you feel like something is still wrong, leave a comment below!