Basketball Shooting Skills for Improving Your Accuracy

Wayne Gretsky

You’ll always miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.


The Key to Becoming a Great Shooter

Learning how to shoot a basketball more effectively is a progressive process that requires specific and conscious actions that will help you to improve both your power and accuracy when shooting a basketball. The key is to practice these fundamentals persistently and consciously up until the point they become second nature, where you no longer need to think about your shooting technique or motion.

This IQ Matrix map will specifically focus on the fundamental motions, habits and actions of effective and efficient basketball shooting techniques.

This article post is part of a Basketball Success Series of IQ Matrix maps. Topics within this series include:

Part 1: Basketball Shooting Skills
Part 2: Basketball Defensive Skills
Part 3: Basketball Dribbling Skills
Part 4: Basketball Passing Skills
Part 5: Basketball Offensive Skills
Part 6: Basketball Rebounding Skills
Part 7: Basketball Movement Tactics
Part 8: Basketball Post Play Skills
Part 9: Basketball Mindset Strategies


Basketball Shooter’s Ultimate Mindset

The 1st Branch of this IQ Matrix Mind Map breaks down the ultimate basketball shooter’s mindset. These traits and characteristics will help you to focus and zero in on what it takes and is required to become a deadly shooter on the basketball court.

A Shooter’s Fundamental Traits

The following is a list of important and traits that you must cultivate into your personality if you seek to become a great basketball shooter.

A Shooter is…

Goal Oriented

A Great Shooter consistently sets themselves shooting goals and objectives on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis. They strive with discipline and determination to achieve these goals at each shooting and training session.

Confident not Cocky

A Great Shooter believes in their own ability. This breeds a natural aura of confidence that helps them to become a more disciplined and accurate shooter of the basketball. However, don’t mistaken this confidence for cockiness. A Great Shooter isn’t Cocky. They understand their limitations, are grateful for every shot that falls through the basket, and they are humble in their demeanor.

Optimistic

A Great Shooter is always optimistic about their next shot. They truly believe that every shot they shoot will hit nothing but net. This optimism keeps them focused on what is most important and helps them to persist through the temporary struggles that all Great Shooters face at times.

Aware and Focused on Process and Mechanics of Shot

A Great Shooter is constantly aware of their shooting technique, style and action. If their shot does not fall through the basket, than they are immediately able to pinpoint where they went wrong. They therefore make the necessary adjustments and shoot again, always being aware and observant of everything within and outside of themselves. As you read through this article and then apply these techniques and strategies on the basketball court, than you too will begin to develop this awareness.

Mindset for Shooting Practice

The following are a few guidelines for shooting practice that will help you to become a more consistent and accurate shooter in rapid succession.

Practice with Intensity

A Great Shooter practices with intensity. They fully understand that the more involved they become in their shooting technique and style, than the more long-term benefit they will gain, and the more likely they are to improve as a shooter.

Practice with a Purpose

A Great Shooter practices with a sense of purpose. They don’t play for the moment, instead they have a long-term vision of a future with a purpose that is greater than this fleeting moment on the basketball court. They play for this higher purpose every moment they pick up the ball. It is this purpose that drives and pushes them forward to improve and raise their game to even higher levels.

What is your higher purpose for playing the game of basketball?

Practice with Concentration

A Great Shooter blocks out all distractions and practices with a focused concentration that doesn’t waver or sway no matter what is going on around them on or off the basketball court.

Practice with a Desire to Succeed

A Great Shooter practices with a desire to succeed in the moment and for the long-term future. They fully understand that long-term success is built upon short-term failures and small victories. This persistently drives them forward and helps build a hunger within, that propels them forward on and off the basketball court.

Practice through Repetition

A Great Shooter fully understands that in order to maintain their high level of accuracy and precision while shooting the basketball, that they must persistently work on the fundamentals of their shooting technique each and every day.

Didn’t someone once say that Repetition is the Mother of all Skill?

Practice through Building Conditioning

A Great Shooter is vigilant of their levels of conditioning. They realize that throughout a basketball game, no matter how well they may have shot during training, that through a lack of conditioning their shooting percentage may significantly decrease. They therefore combine their shot training sessions with conditioning strategies that will build strength and consistency no matter how tired they become on the basketball court.

Practice through Positive Expectation

A Great Shooter always expects the very best no matter how dire the circumstances or how difficult the obstacles may appear to be. Hence, they always practice with optimism and have a positive outlook on their shooting technique no matter how unfortunate or unlucky they may have been in the past.

Ultimate Basketball Shooters Mindset


Check Before Shooting the Basketball

The 2nd Branch of this IQ Matrix Mind Map breaks down the fundamental components you must check and be aware of before shooting the basketball. In the beginning it is important to move through each of these actions at a slow and robotic pace, up until the point they become habitual in nature where you no longer need to think about how to shoot the basketball.

Guidelines for Your Legs and Feet

The following is a set of guidelines for your legs and feet that you must cultivate into your shooting action if you have aspirations to become a great basketball shooter.

Make sure that your…

Knees are Bent at 45° Angle

Your knees must be bent at a 45° angle in order to provide you with stability, power and lift as you jump to shoot the basketball.

Feet are Shoulder Width Apart

Your feet must be shoulder width apart in order to balance the left and right hemispheres of your body. This will project equal force from both legs as you go up for your shot.

Feet are Even Side-by-Side

When your feet are even standing side-by-side one another, this provides you with greater balance and stability. Furthermore, it helps to improve your shooting accuracy when shooting the basketball.

Side-by-Side does not mean standing in a staggered stance with one foot in front of the other. This will have the tendency to knock you off balance and will interfere with your shooting action. If you must you can place your favored (stronger) foot slightly in front of the other in order to provide better lift and balance.

Feet are Pointing Squarely Towards Basket

Your feet are much like a compass that points in the direction of your target. They must therefore be squarely facing the basket you are shooting before, during and after you have taken your shot.

Guidelines for Your Arms and Hands

The following is a set of guidelines for your arms and hands that you must cultivate into your shooting action if you have aspirations to become a great basketball shooter.

Shooting Wrist Holds Ball in Shot Pocket

Your shooting wrist must hold the basketball in your shot pocket at a 90° Angle. This means that your wrist must bend back at a 90° Angle in relation to the ball.

Your shot-pocket is the area between the bottom of your ribcage and your hips. This is the primary area for the basketball triple threat technique.

Fingers Spread Comfortably on Ball

Make sure that your Shooting and Guide Hand fingers are spread comfortably on the ball. Spreading your fingers too wide in an uncomfortable manner or moving them in too close will effect your shooting accuracy and power.

Finger Pads Making Full Contact with Ball

Your Finger Pads are the areas on your palm just below your fingers. These must make full contact with the ball on your Shooting and Guide Hand.

Guide Hand Placed Side of Basketball

Your Guide Hand must be placed comfortably resting on the side of the basketball in your shot-pocket.

Shooting Hand Placed Behind Basketball

Your Shooting Hand must be placed comfortably resting behind the basketball in your shot-pocket.

Shooting and Guide Hand Create “W”

The thumbs of your Shooting and Guide Hands must conjoin and come together on the ball to form a W or upside down M.  They don’t necessarily have to touch, unless of course you have very long fingers, however they do need to make this W shape in order to balance the ball correctly within your shot-pocket.

Elbow is Tucked into Ribcage

Make sure to tuck your elbow into your ribcage while you are holding the basketball in your shot-pocket. Your elbow is like a magnet that must rise in one motion and lock itself onto the target you are shooting at.

Elbow Making 90° Angle

As you tuck your elbow into your ribcage make sure that it is making a 90° Angle as you are holding the basketball in your shot-pocket.

Elbow is Pointing at the Basket in a Straight Line

As you prepare to shoot the ball it is important to point your elbow at the target you are shooting at. This will improve the accuracy of your shot.

Eyes Focused on Hanging Central Net Hooks

Most basketball rims have hanging net hooks that the basketball net hangs off. Before you shoot the ball, make sure to focus on the central hanging net hook (in relation to your position on the court) on the front of the basketball rim.  This will further improve the accuracy of your shot and assist with improving your focus and concentration.

What to Check Before Shooting Basketball


Check While Shooting the Basketball

The 3rd Branch of this IQ Matrix Mind Map breaks down the fundamental components you must check and be aware of while shooting the basketball. In the beginning it is important to move through each of these actions at a slow and robotic pace, up until the point they become habitual in nature where you no longer need to think about how to shoot the basketball.

Focus on Net Hook for 2 seconds Before Shot

As previously discussed, it is important to continue to focus on the central net hook for about 2 seconds before taking your shot. It is critical that you do not remove your eyes off of this target up until the point when the ball has gone through or hit the basketball rim. The more focused and intense your concentration becomes, the greater accuracy you will develop over time.

Releasing the Basketball

The following is a set of guidelines you must follow while releasing your basketball shot. Keep in mind that initially you will need to consciously focus on all of these areas. However, over time your shooting technique will become second nature, and eventually you will be shooting without any conscious thought or action.

Maintain Balance on Both Feet

Be sure to maintain good balance off both of your feet as you jump to release your shot. You must be vigilant to generate equal power off both of your feet at one time in order to maintain maximum balance and cohesion.

Release Ball with Only Shooting Hand

You must release the ball as your feet leave the ground. The release of the ball should only be made by your Shooting Hand and NOT your Guide Hand.

As the ball is released from your Shooting Hand, your shooting index fingers must be the very last parts of your hand to direct the ball towards the basket. Moreover, your index fingers must be pointing directly at your target as you release your shot.

Release Ball with Your Body Rising as One

As you are shooting the basketball, your arms, hips, chest, head and legs must rise smoothly in one motion off the ground. This will ensure maximum power and stability as you shoot the basketball.

Release Ball Up through Shot-line

The shot-line will vary somewhat from player-to-player. It is essentially the area that cuts vertically right through the center of your body. This may at times be slightly to the right or left depending on which is your favored shooting hand. You must therefore bring the basketball up in a direct line through your shot-line parallel to the basket in one smooth motion.

Release Ball with Backspin

In basketball, backspin is used as a means of stabilizing the basketball as it penetrates through the air after the shot has been released. When a ball backspins, this simply means that the ball is spinning backwards through the air as it travels towards the basket.

To achieve backspin on your shot, simply snap your shooting wrist as you release the ball.

Release Ball with Arc on Your Shot

The greater Arc you are able to establish on your shot, the more chance it will have of penetrating your target; as more of the basketball rim will be exposed. However, keep in mind not to over-arc your shot unnecessarily, as this will only force you to shoot with more power and may very well interfere with your shooting technique and balance.

Avoid the following Common Mistakes

Some players have a habit of tilting their head slightly to the side as they take their shot. Avoid this at all costs as this will destabilize your body and will hurt your shooting accuracy.

Other players have a tendency to dip the ball below their waist before finally rising and releasing the basketball. This is a time consuming habit that will rob you of your shooting momentum. Basketball is a game of quickness and speed. Therefore any advantage you can gain over your opponent in respect to this, will serve you in the long-run and will help you to become a more effective and efficient shooter.

What to Check While Shooting a Basketball


Check After Shooting the Basketball

The 4th Branch of this IQ Matrix Mind Map breaks down the fundamental components you must check and be aware of after you have shot the basketball. In the beginning it is important to move through each of these actions at a slow and robotic pace, up until the point they become habitual in nature where you no longer need to think about how to shoot the basketball.

Guidelines for Your Arms and Hands

The following is a set of guidelines for your arms and hands that you must pay attention to after you have taken your shot. As a general rule, once you have shot the basketball, freeze your shooting motion and check the following:

Shooting and Guide Arms are Extended Framing Basket

Your Shooting and Guide Arms must be almost fully extended with a slight bend in the elbow framing the basket on both sides. Make sure that you are able to see the basket with your eyes between your extended right and left forearms.

Shooting Wrist / Hand is Relaxed and Floppy

Make sure that your shooting wrist / hand is relaxed and floppy at the end of your shooting action. Simply practice by waving goodbye with your shooting hand as you release the ball.

Shooting Index Fingers Pointing Top of Backboard

Your shooting index fingers must point in the direction of the basket. Ideally the index fingers should point slightly above the basketball rim towards the top end of the backboard.

Other Shooting Fingers Dipping into Basketball Net

The remainder of your Shooting Hand fingers, should be pointing towards the ground as though they are dipping into the basketball net.

Guide Arm Slightly Bent at Elbow

Your Guide Arm should have a slight bend in the elbow after you have taken your shot.

Guide Hand Fingers Pointing towards Ceiling

Your Guide Hand fingers and thumb should finish pointing towards the ceiling after you have taken your shot.

Guidelines for Your Legs and Feet

The following is a set of guidelines for your legs and feet that you must pay attention to after you have taken your shot.

Feet are Parallel Side-by-Side

When your feet touch back onto the ground after you have taken your shot, make sure that they are still facing parallel to the basketball rim. Your toes should be pointing towards the basket in the direction of your shot. Any slight variation here could potentially misdirect your shot off your shot-line.

Feet are Shoulder Width Pointing at Basket

When your feet touch back onto the ground after you have taken your shot, make sure that they land shoulder width apart. This will ensure good balance and stability.

What to Check After Shooting a Basketball


Common Bad Basketball Shooting Habits

The 5th Branch of this IQ Matrix Mind Map breaks down some common basketball shooting habits that you must remove from your shooting technique and style. These BAD shooting habits will naturally interfere with you shooting action and will decrease the accuracy and strength of your shot.

Common Bad Shooting Habits to Avoid

The following list presents a set of self-sabotaging shooting habits that will significantly reduce the effectiveness and consistency of your shooting technique. By progressively eliminating these habits over time, you will gain ascendancy over your shot and improve your shooting efficiency through persistent repetition and practice.

Remove the following Basketball shooting habits from your shooting technique:

Flexing Hand when Releasing Basketball

Do Not flex your Shooting or Guide Hand after you have released the ball. Your hands must release the ball in a relaxed and fluid motion.

Angling Elbow Away from Basket

Do Not angle your elbow away from the basketball rim after taking your shot. Your elbow must rise up your shot-line with the ball and finish pointing directly at the basket.

As a simple rule, begin your shooting action by tucking your shooting elbow into your ribcage, and follow through from there.

Flipping Ball with Guide Hand Thumb

Do Not flip the ball with your Guide Hand thumb upon release of your shot. The purpose of the Guide Hand is to support the ball as you lift it through your shot-line. Any use of the Guide Hand thumb will simply misdirect your shot and you will lose accuracy.

Placing Guide or Shooting Hand Front of Ball

Do Not place your Guide Hand at the front of the ball before or during your shooting action. The Guide Hand belongs on the side of the ball. In this way it will not interfere with your shooting technique. Conversely, placing your Shooting Hand front of ball while it is still in your shot-pocket will slow down your shooting motion, because you must first revert and place your Shooting Hand behind the ball before progressing with your shot.

Ultimate Basketball Shooters Mindset

Moving Eyes off Target After Your Shot

Do Not move your eyes off of your shooting target under no circumstances. Your eyes are like a laser beam that guides the ball to its destination. They must remain transfixed onto your target until the ball hits the rim or hits nothing but net 🙂

Dropping Guide or Shooting Hand After Shot

Do Not drop your Shooting or Guide Hand after releasing the basketball. If you catch yourself in the habit of doing this, than you may find that your shot loses accuracy and power, while at the same time throwing your body off balance.

Flat Shooting Technique

Do Not allow yourself to get into the habit of shooting flat horizontal shots. Horizontal shooting significantly decreases your chances of a successful basket, because the flatter your shot, than the less of the basketball rim is exposed to the ball. It’s as simple as that. Instead, learn to Arc your shot in order to expose more of the basket.


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Final Thoughts

When it comes to shooting a basketball more effectively it all comes down to technique, concentration and persistent repetition. Keep in mind that your basketball shooting technique will not suddenly improve overnight. It takes patience and practice to become an effective and efficient shooter. However, through a dedicated spirit and discipline you can develop a consistent and deadly shot that will be the envy of your opponents.

I hope you enjoyed this post. If you have any further queries or questions, or would like to share your experiences about this topic, than please do so in the comments section below.


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Basketball Shooting Skills

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Adam is a life coach, mind mapper, doodler and visual thinker. He founded IQ Matrix in 2009 and has created over 350 self-growth mind maps. He also has a Free 40 Day How to Doodle Course where he teaches how to doodle using simple daily lessons. Read more about Adam’s story, and how he created the concept for IQ Matrix. Feel free to also get in touch and send Adam a message here.