By: Brendan Winters
Shooting is perhaps the most important skill in basketball. Typically, especially at the youth level, if you can shoot, you will play. Of course, as you move up levels, many other skills come into play such as ball handling, passing, basketball IQ, defense, athleticism, etc., but ALL teams, regardless of level, need shooters!
When I was growing up, I always got a certain amount of playing time simply because I could shoot. I was rarely the most athletic or strongest or best ball handler. I played mainly because I could shoot, and I worked unbelievably hard to become a great shooter. However, my shooting form, I believe, was very inefficient. I was taught to shoot the ball extremely high over my head and pretty much jumped as high as I could every time I shot the ball. I never teach kids to shoot that way today because it’s too difficult and inefficient. Take a look at how I shot the ballhere – it went in usually, but I know I spent way more hours than I would have had I had better form! I think Steph Curry has pretty much the perfect shot – check out Sports Science break it all down here! Although players can, like me, become good shooters with imperfect or inefficient form, I wouldn’t recommend it. It takes many, many more hours of practice than players with simple, proper form. Because of this, we came up with a much simpler shooting formula, and it all starts with 1-hand and 2-hand form shooting!
Last blog post, I covered 1-hand form shooting, and now I’ll cover how to 2-hand form shoot in basketball. Both are equally as important, and players should first learn how to 1-hand form shoot, so if you haven’t yet read that blog post, go back first and read it here. 2-hand form shooting, like 1-hand, requires 4 simple steps and are very similar to to the 1-hand form shooting steps. Note: I’ve made a slight change in language to the title of the 4th step, now calling it “Snap and Dip”, but that will be explained later.
STEP 1 – HOME BASE
“Home base” is simply the starting position every time a player sets up to 1-hand and 2-hand form shoot. In this position:
– Stand straight up with toes, hips, and shoulders facing target (rim or backboard)
– Place feet shoulder width apart
– Place shooting hand on top of the ball with ball seams going across
– Place guide hand on side of ball where ball seams come together
– For both shooting and guide hands, ball is griped by finger pads and fingers, not the palm
– Shooting elbow is tucked into side of hip
STEP 2 – SIT aka. “START SMALL”
“Sit” only has to do with the lower body and means the player pretends there is a chair behind them and sits their hips/butt back like they would normally do to sit down in a chair. The reason for this visual is because young players have the tendency to come up on their toes bringing their knees forward, which we don’t want. For this step:
– Keep upper body the same
– Sit hips back, allow knees to bend naturally
– Make sure knees don’t come forward and player goes up on toes
– Stay back on heels!!
– Chest up
– Eyes focused on target (rim or backboard)
STEP 3 – LIFT (to an ‘L’)
I put a side view picture (with no guide hand) above to give the look of the ‘L’. For this step:
– Remain “sitting”
– Lift ball to shooting position
– Form ‘L’ with shooting arm bicep and forearm (as opposed to ‘V’)
– Ball remains on finger pads and fingers, off palm
– Ball height is between shoulder and top of head
– Index finger pointed back towards face/eye
– Elbow remains under ball, do NOT let it wing out!!!
– Guide hand fingers on ball, not the palm
STEP 4 – SNAP & DIP aka. “FINISH TALL”
This is the step that I changed the name of the title from “DIP & HOLD” to “SNAP & DIP”. I think “snap and dip” gives players a better visual for what players should do with their shooting arm and fingers. In this final step, this combines the lower body and upper body where the players shoots the ball and literally snaps his or her elbow and dips his or her fingers into the rim while holding up their follow through up. Make sure guide hand does not shoot the ball – do not rotate guide hand thumb and/or hand!! For this step:
– Lower and upper body begin upward movement
– Lower body: begin push up and forward from heels
– Upper body: begin push up from elbow & begin to remove guide hand
– Keep eyes locked on target, do not watch ball
– Allow ball to begin to roll back off index and middle finger
– Snap elbow and lock, wrist will naturally flick
– Lock out knees and end on toes
– NOTE: Goal is for elbow and knees to lock about same time
– Dip index and middle finger in rim (or pointed at backboard)
– Make sure guide hand and/or thumb does not rotate
– Hold follow through up until ball goes in or hits rim
That’s it. That’s 2-hand form shooting. “Sit. Lift. Snap & Dip.” Pretty easy to remember, but as you can see above, the actual steps are extremely detailed. Form shooting needs to be done slowly, thoughtfully, and close to the basket. Players needs to go through each step in their head checking each step to make sure all the details are correct (eg. feet shoulder width, knees not coming forward, elbow in, locking out follow through, etc.). Each shot should take about 10 seconds for beginners and as players get better and more comfortable with this, each shot will be 3-5 seconds.
FORM SHOOTING EXERCISE
1. Start on the baseline 3-5 ft. away from rim
2. Shoot 10 form shots slowly and deliberately
3. Move to the “block”/wing spot (again 3-5 ft. away)
4. Shoot 10 form shots
5. Repeat in middle/front of rim, other block/wing, other baseline
6. Five spots total, 10 shots each, 50 total form shots
7. When finished, go back to beginning position, take step back, repeat
If players do this exercise in 1-hand and 2-hand form shooting every single day before workouts/practices/games, they will see results. Remember, “Practice makes habit. Perfect practice makes perfect.” Form shooting creates muscle memory, and if perfect form shooting can be committed to muscle memory then a player can become a great shooter!