Elevate Your Game, Become A Sharpshooter
They say that the best shooters in the world all share one particular quality -- once they're in the gym, they're in range. Take our very own Stephen Curry, who often takes to the tunnel during pre-game to fire a few off from there before exploding for six made three-pointers. To CoachUp, that's not a coincidence -- that's an exhibition of Curry's talents that he's so tirelessly worked on. To be a sharpshooting assassin like Stephen, you've got to be able to hit from all over -- not just from three or near the paint. That's what makes an engaging threat so incredibly tough to guard, the defender never knows where he'll pull up next! To improve your shooting, you first need to know the basics of shooting and how to diagnose what is wrong with your current shot. To do that, it can be a little tougher, so start simple and get back to basics.
These following drills will help you reinstall some confidence in your form while reminding new and old players of any level the fundamental basics that can help them get their shot back on track. First, stand directly in front of the basket about two to five feet away. Get in a good shooting stance: feet shoulder width apart, heels slightly off the ground, and knees bent slightly -- no more than 45 degrees -- with your back straight. Your strong foot should be slightly ahead of the other one, ready to receive the ball.
Grab a partner and have him or her toss the ball to your shooting hand; remember, your palm should be face up and directly in front of you with your other arm to the side. Slowly bring the ball up into a shooting position and stop -- this is done with just one hand. The ideal shooting position is just above the eye but in a spot that does not obstruct your view. At this point, several things should be in place: your shooting elbow should be in a straight line above your knee and pointing toward your target. Additionally, the bottom of your arm should be parallel to the ground and your wrist should be bent back to allow your arm to be in a 90 degree position.
Train Like An Animal
The fingers you have on the ball should be spread out with your index finger placed in the center. Use your legs and proceed to shoot, finishing on your toes with your shooting hand splayed toward your target. Don't forget to hold your follow through until the ball touches rim or net! Repeat this process but be methodical. On every shot, use positive key words for immediate mental feedback -– say these words out loud! For makes, say something that practices good reinforcement like swish or score.
If your shot is short, which means the ball hits the front of the rim or misses entirely, try saying something like legs -- most of your power comes from the legs, so you can use it as reminder to use more of it! Conversely, if you're long, try saying arch. This will act as a reminder that if the ball had more arch, the shot might've had a higher percentage of going in. Likewise, you can say left or right if your shot is wildly off in either direction.
Stepping Out, Stepping Up
Once you can make ten to fifteen in a row, move back somewhere between three and five feet -- but remember this is all still with just one hand! Do this from different angles and distances up to about eight or ten feet, until you feel comfortable with each range and difficulty. Eventually, you can move to using both hands again. Use the non-shooting hand for ball stability and support only and begin to hit jump shots from all over -- shots off the dribble, catch and shoot, you can even use special scenarios and act them out on the court. Ensure that you are using proper form on each one, and if a shot goes off-course, go back to step one. Here, there are no shortcuts to success.
The best shooters in the world do form shooting before practice and games, so working out the kinks isn't above anybody. You don't need a basket, either – as long as you have a flat surface, you can shoot against anything. It's better to visualize a basket and to make sure that most of your shooting is done at regulation height, but if you have the side of a building, or something similar, you can make do anywhere -- so no more excuses.
(Related: Read about improving your vertical leap here.)
Whether you're having trouble getting out of a slump or finding your range at a specific spot on the court, these tips could help get you back on the same page with your body. For many professionals, these types of drills are practical and essential during long road trips and slumps. If you can't hit from fifteen feet consistently, try moving into twelve feet until you're nailing them at upwards of 70%.
However, if you're still struggling with your slump or just simply understanding the concepts and ideals behind a smooth, reliable jumper, consider booking one of CoachUp's private trainers to help you out. It doesn't matter what your skills are or where you want to go, our dedicated team will have you firing on the court like Curry in no time. What are you waiting for?