Since a team must score to win, shooting is undoubtedly an important fundamental of the game. If there is a secret to good shooting it is countless hours of practice and more practice. Why do coaches love to see a goal on the side of the garage or on a pole in the back yard? It is because such goals give opportunities for more hours and hours of practice. Probably more shooters have been made in the back yard than anywhere else.
The old expression of “practice makes perfect” is not entirely correct. What is a more appropriate expression is “perfect practice makes perfect” The most important point is to practise using correct technique. Once sound technique has been established, practise within comfortable range of the basket and then gradually increase the distance. Many players make the mistake of practising long range shots before being able to make a high percentage of shots close to the basket. Straining to make the range will lead to poor technique and little progress.
Coaches may find it relatively easy to teach technique, but it is much more difficult to teach “touch”. Try to make the shot “soft” no matter what the range. You should develop the feeling that you are placing the ball into the ring and not just shooting at it. I often suggest that the player tries to imagine the ring is covered with a thin sheet of glass and he should place the ball on the thin sheet of glass without breaking it.
Coaches can instruct on technique but it is difficult to teach touch. One thing in common between great shoot is that each shot looks the same no matter how far out it might be. This comes from using good technique, but it also shows the players have good touch. When a player with good touch shoots the ball it will go through the net with a smooth swish whether it was a layup or long range jump shot.
There is a different preparation leading up to each shot but the final release of the ball, with the wrist snapping and the index and second finger last to leave the ball, is the same. Take care how it feels as you release the ball so that you can develop the fine accuracy which is necessary for success.
Another point of emphasis is where and the player should determine his shooting target. Players often hesitate when asked about their aim when they are shooting. This suggests they have not made a habit of creating a precise target when shooting. Some may aim at the front of the rim with the intention of shooting just over it while others might aim for the back of the rim. I don’t agree with either of these responses but say, “If you aim at a particular target you may hit it” I prefer to aim at the centre of the ring. Unfortunately may players aim in the general direction of the ring without being precise about the target so high percentage and consistent shooting will be rare.
The basic shots in basketball are the lay-up, the set shot, the jump shot and the hook shot. There are others of course, including the dunk shot, the alley-oop shot, the jump hook shot and reverse layup, but now we are only going to concentrate on the basic shots.