How to Shoot a Basketball
Set Shot: Part 2

Follow these simple basketball tips to learn how to shoot a basketball and then put your skills into action with fun basketball shooting drills and games.

The college players and pros make shooting a basketball look it look easy, but that's because they learned the mechanics of good shooting form.

They learned the secret to great shooting.

And they learned how to improve their shooting percentage by making good shot selection.

Without a doubt, the best part of the game is the exhilaration you feel when you shoot the ball and watch it drop through the net!

Want to improve your basketball shooting game?

Learn how to shoot a:


Jump shot

Free throw

Basketball Tips:

how to shoot a basketball


Square up


Hand position
Shooting pocket


Shot release
Ball rotation
Follow through
Full body extension

How to Shoot a Basketball #5

how to shoot a basketball

Keep your eyes focused on your target until you release the ball.

If you were shooting a rifle at a target, you would never think about letting your eyes roam. You would peer intently through the sight on the rifle.

Shooting a basketball is no different.

It's easy to get distracted by pesky defenders or shouting fans and teammates, and it's tempting to take your focus off of the goal.

Big mistake!

Your eyes are really important in helping judge the distance to the rim and sending signals to the brain about what your body needs to do to get the ball up there.

Keep your eyes on the rim until your follow through is finished.

How to Shoot a Basketball #6
Hand position

how to shoot a basketball

The ball should rest just off the palm of your hand with your fingers spread comfortably. It should touch the finger pads of all 5 fingers, but not lay flat on the palm.

When first starting, it might be helpful to locate the little air hole on the ball. That makes a good point of reference.

I start out by placing my index and middle finger around the hole in a "V". These two fingers are really important because they are the ones you really shoot with.

Your non-shooting hand should be placed on the side of the ball (not the front). It only serves to hold the ball in place kind of like a golf tee. It has nothing to do with the shot itself.

*Important note: Small players may need to start out shooting the ball with two hands because the ball is too big and heavy for a one-handed set shot.

That’s okay.

Just work on the other mechanics and, as they grow, they can adjust to using one hand.

How to Shoot a Basketball #7

The wrist starts out slightly cocked so that that ball can rest on it.

When releasing the shot, the wrist completely flexes to put the backspin on the ball. Let the wrist completely follow-through and stop moving on its own.

Don't jerk it to a stop.

A good way to get the feeling of the wrist snap is to cock your shooting wrist with your arm in shooting position.

With the palm of your non-shooting hand, push back and down on the fingers of your shooting hand so the palm of your shooting hand points directly up in the air.

Follow through with your wrist like you're shooting a ball against the pressure of your palm until the shooting fingers of your hand flick free.

You should feel your wrist kind of snap. That’s the kind of wrist action you need.

How to Shoot a Basketball #8

Your shooting elbow should be tucked comfortably in at your side with your palm facing the goal and your fingers facing up.

You should be able to rest a basketball on the palm of your hand without it falling off.

Don't let your elbow poke out to the side like a chicken wing because this forces your fingers to point off to the side.

To have a good follow through with good touch on the ball, you have to be able to release it with your fingers pointing up.

To get your elbow in the right position, try raising your shooting hand above your head like you're asking a question. From that position, drop it straight down to your side so it makes almost an "L" shape.

How to Shoot a Basketball #9
Shooting pocket

The ball should start out in a position referred to as the "shooting pocket."

For a right-handed shooter, the ball rests comfortably in the right hand just off of the palm with the wrist slightly cocked, elbow touching the side of the body, and the ball held just under the right eye.

(It's just the opposite for a left-handed shooter.)

This position allows the shooter to look over the ball at the target, not under it.

How to Shoot a Basketball #10

how to shoot a basketball

Your feet should be shoulder-width apart with your toes facing the target.

The foot on the side of your shooting hand should be slightly ahead of your other foot – about half the length of your foot.

Your weight should be leaning forward slightly, so that you're not standing flat-footed. Make sure you're not leaning back on your heels.

How to Shoot a Basketball #11

Your knees should be slightly bent at the start with both knees facing the basket. As you prepare to shoot, bend a little deeper and then push upward to get power from your legs.

Young kids don’t have a lot of strength in their arms, so a lot of the muscle behind their shot has to come from the legs.

how to shoot a basketball

If you're having trouble with your shot, check out our trouble-shooting tips to help correct common shooting problems.

The best way to correct your mistakes is through feedback from a coach or by watching yourself shoot on video.

Here are some helpful tips for using video as a coaching tool to help you see exactly what you're doing wrong.

After you’ve learned the tips for proper basketball shooting form, pick out a basketball shooting game to enjoy with friends!

These fun games are sure to improve your scoring ability under pressure!

With a lot of practice and hard work, you too will be knocking down shots with the best of them!

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