The Three Speeds of Practicing Your 3 Point Shot

Many of players would like to be able to increase their shooting range and become good 3-point shooters. We all know of examples of players, like Robert Horry, who are recruited to join teams mostly because of their ability to make 3-point shots. “Big Shot Rob” has seven – that’s right, seven – NBA championship rings.

Shooters with deep range have helped teams on every level win championships. Coaches like Rick Pitino used the 3-point shot to revolutionize the game and propel his coaching career. Pitino went from Providence College, a mid-level NCAA Division I program, to the University of Kentucky, one of the best programs in the country. Pitino ultimately made it to the NBA as head coach of the Boston Celtics.

Here are three incredibly simple basketball shooting drills and concepts that can help any player extend their shooting range and add to their scoring arsenal, in order of speed:


Jog (but never walk) through each of these shots. This will help you work up a sweat. Start around five feet from the basket and shoot until you make a shot all-net before moving back one step. Repeat the process until you get all the way back to the 3-point line. Continue shooting until you make an all-net 3-pointer. Initially, do this from the baseline and work your way back to the 3-point line in the corner. Then do the other (right or left baseline) and finally go down the middle and finish with a 3-pointer from the top of the key. When you’re finished with this drill, do your normal stretching routine.


This next part of your practice shooting is best done with a rebounder and a passer. However, if shooting on your own, simply pass to yourself, shoot, rebound and speed dribble back to the spot. You are now repeating the process of working your way back, only this time going as fast as you think you can, then speeding up your perception of what you think is going fast and going even faster! Obviously this is great conditioning. There are several kinds of footwork currently being used by good shooters. These include: the classic inside foot 1-2 step (which is what we teach at, the 2-foot jump stop, the plant rear foot and step-in, and hop into the shot (1-2 step or 2-foot jump stop). Ask your coach before deciding what do to. Make one all-net shot of each of the following types of shots and work your way back from three distances: start at 10 feet out, then move to 15 feet and finally to 3-point range. Do both a catch-and-shoot and a shot off the dribble, moving left-right-center. That’s six made all-net baskets from each spot. As before, you must make an all-net shot before progressing to the next type of shot and distance.


This is the most important part of becoming a proficient shooter in actual games. Do this workout with defenders. Learning this way will give you transference from practice to actual games. You’ll play this way and it will be easy to make shots in games and at crunch time. Have defenders close out on you from closer than they will be in the game to try and steal the ball and block the shot.

Want to become a fearless shooter? Have the defender foul you on purpose with just a slap on the wrist or controlled nudge. Make (again not just take) three shots like this during every practice and you will become a more focused “in the zone” shooter. You probably will also get to the free throw line in games and have a chance to make a 4-point play! Math + Honesty = Real Results Have you noticed that doing any one of the stages will cause you to make – not just take (this includes shots that go in without being all-net) – over 100 shots! You shouldn’t care about missing. You don’t have to make every shot, just shoot until you make the amount of shots needed to progress to the next stage.

Do only as many stages as you are comfortable with. The warm-up stage alone will make anyone a better shooter and is essentially what many great shooters in the NBA do a couple hours before every game. Just because you take a lot of 3-point shots and you think that you are a 3-point shooter, doesn’t mean you are. If it takes more than 15 shots to make an all-net 3-pointer and you have to change your shot to get the basketball to reach the basket, then the 3-point shot is out of your range – for now. Your current and realistic range is where you can make two all-net shots in 10 attempts or less. Just be patient with yourself and work on these drills and stay within your range and you will soon gradually extend that range.

Before attempting the 3-point shot in games, first make six out of 10 in practice on three separate practice days. These shots should be from where you would shoot within the flow of your offense. That’s when the statistic of probability is on your side, and you will have a real mathematical chance to shoot at least 35-40 percent from 3-point range when you play.


I have personally used these drills as a head coach at both the high school level and an assistant coach at the NCAA Division I level. I was fortunate to learn quite a bit about 3-point shooting while serving as assistant coach with Craig Hodges. As a player, Craig was on the Chicago Bulls’ first championship team with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, both now in the Basketball Hall of Fame. Craig also won the NBA All-Star Weekend 3-point contest three years in a row. Increasing range and becoming proficient at 3-point shooting will not only help you have more success now, it will also increase your chances to move to the next level. Look at what Pitino, Horry and Hodges have accomplished. Now it’s your turn.

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