How can I improve my in game basketball shooting?
November 8, 2009 4:46 AM   Subscribe

How can I improve my in game basketball shooting? I have a pretty good shot when I'm just shooting around, but it drastically falls off in in-game situations. How can I practice in-game shooting when I mostly practice by myself?
posted by ben5757 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Kind of tricky to duplicate without people around, maybe put chairs on the court so you're forced to move around them?

On a somewhat related note, one of the best pieces of advice I got about how to improve your basketball shot was from Dr. J. himself. (I went to a camp of his when I was 12.)

He said the best thing to do is remove the net. This forces you to aim for the rim and later on, when you're playing with a netted hoop, it all comes easier.
posted by jeremias at 5:03 AM on November 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

When you shoot by yourself, always be moving. Don't take jumpers from a stationary position, since you rarely get to do that in real game situations anyway. Use the chairs, but try to imagine that the chairs are a teammate, and shoot as soon as you come around the corner of the chair.

I found that when I practice shooting, I stood still, and my shooting was pretty awful. The guys who were good were the ones that moved constantly, even in practice, and did a lot of one on one between games of four on four.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:18 AM on November 8, 2009

When you shoot by yourself, always be moving.

this is absolutely right, but one better, sprint before you practice those shots. Do suicides up and down the court, say five full sets as fast as you can. Only then do you begin taking shots.

Also, what type of player are you? That will make a drastic difference as to how you should practice.

Are you an off guard/small forward who will mainly be catching passes and then shooting? If so, ask a friend to help you, have them throw you passes as you move around imaginary screens or defenders. Have them sometimes throw the passes poorly, at your knees or ankles, or slightly behind you or ahead of you.

Are you a big man who plays in the paint mostly, then work on your jumpers off of a rebound, throw the ball off the backboard, catch it, and put it back up without bringing it below your chest. Work on turnarounds, stuff that'll be hard to defend.

Are you a point guard or shooting guard who will be driving a lot of the time? Then use chairs, or better yet, friends who will swipe at the ball as you go through. Have a defender there who will bump you as you move through the lane.

Other tips: have your friends who are defending you foul you, somewhat blatantly. My friends and I used to practice this because we played with a lot of grabby, clutchy players. It made us practically indifferent. Also, make try to practice a quick release. I'm a short guy (only 5'8) but my bread and butter was always a pull-up/spot-up jumper, that even much taller guys had trouble blocking because it was out of my hand so fast.

Man, I miss playing basketball.
posted by dnesan at 6:11 AM on November 8, 2009

what everyone else said but also: the trick to shooting well is squaring your shoulders to the rim. be consistent above the waist. every shot should essentially be the same shot from the waist up. what does that mean? it means when you jump for your shot, you should jump in such a way (either forward, backward, left, right, twisting, etc.) that when you reach the height of your jump, your shoulders are square to the basket. practicing shooting while moving helps with this - stand at the top of the key and dribble very hard to the right elbow, jump, square your shoulders, shoot. do it again but drive to the left elbow. do it again but dribble further off to the right. do it again but dribble further off to the left. do it from different places on the floor. stand at the elbow, throw the ball off to the side so it has some backspin, go get it like from a pass, turn, jump, square your shoulders, shoot your shot. try to maintain consistency. and play a lot of pickup games.
posted by billysumday at 7:33 AM on November 8, 2009

I found this book somewhat helpful.
posted by callmejay at 7:36 AM on November 8, 2009

The trick to shooting better in a game is to be consistently in proper form no matter what the situation. Square your shoulders, align your feet, use your legs, release at the same point in your jump, follow through. Often, in a game, you rush or get nervous as a player is coming toward you or is on you. Repetition, repetition, repetition. Your practice should recreate game conditions. Spin the ball towards yourself and try to catch the ball at the top of the chest and not bring it down, but instinctively move the ball so that the lines are perpendicular to the finger tips, elevate and shoot. Do it while you are tired from running and playing. You need to shoot hundreds of shots per day. Literally. I used to pay my younger brother a penny a shot to pass me the ball. He wouldn't even want to waste his time if I didn't take at least 100 shots ($1). The key is strong legs, square up to the basket, elbow in, ball on your finger tips, flick release, follow through. Then, follow your shot to the basket to get a rebound. Also, my goal was for the ball to rotate 2.5 to 3 times from release to the basket.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:47 AM on November 8, 2009

Ditto all the above. Another related point to keep in mind is the angle of release. That is, often in game situations, where the action's happening faster than practice, there's a tendency for shooters to try quickening their release, with the result that the shot loses its arch (instead of a high curve, it ends up on more of a straight-line trajectory, which as pointed out, means there's a smaller proportion of the basket available to hit).

When you're practicing, pay attention to releasing your shot at both the height of your jump and with the highest extension of your arms. After doing this for a while in practice, you'll start to notice how this sort of extension feels and be able to carry it over to game situations. Added bonus: releasing your shot at its highest extension also makes it tougher to block most of the time.
posted by 5Q7 at 11:16 AM on November 8, 2009

You've gotten some terrific suggestions. I would definitely echo squaring your shoulders. Something I sometimes practice is focusing on my elbows as I shoot - am I bringing them close together? I find if my elbows are both pointing nearly straight down I am more likely to be balancing the ball flatly and releasing it with the right flick.

I am 34 and have been playing ball since I was 13. I play in a regular group that has members as old as 70. One of the secrets that older players know is to look for open spots on the floor. Make the game easier by shooting easy shots. Watch the spacing of the defending team. Are they all facing the ball? If so is there room on the opposite side of the ball to maybe cut and then spot up for your point guard? If a forward or center is pounding the ball on a post up can you run through their vision and to the side to give them an open person to pass to? I play "point guard" (our teams are pretty loose), but I rarely shoot contested shots that aren't full court layups. I find that if I pass the ball around and then move to open areas of the floor I get lots of good jumpers. In an hour's worth of games I usually take 20+ shots and hit hopefully 45% of them.

Lastly, the most difficult and important thing is to just relax. Everyone should be trying to have fun and the more you do that the more your subconscious or muscle memory or whatever will take over and shoot the shots for you.
posted by Slothrop at 11:30 AM on November 8, 2009

« Older Please recommend some accordion music to practice.   |   OUR BARKING DOGS vs. My SANITY Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.