Shooting the basketball is an art form. To become great, you need to develop rhythm, touch, and accuracy, all while tuning in mentally to block out any distractions. Keeping your composure is key to building confidence, and the best shooters in the game keep their poise even if they’ve missed several consecutive shots. They have a quiet, confident demeanor. It’s a tough mentality that you have to train yourself to attain; regardless of what happened on the last shot attempt, the next one is going in. But to believe in yourself that much, you have to put the work in during practice. If you expect to play at a high level and be successful in games, you have to practice on your own at a high level, at game speed. This is key to your progress and preparation. While your workouts should be intense, there is something I want to talk about that I’ve noticed about all great shooters.
What’s important in knocking down shots? Balance? Sure. Follow through and release point? Definitely. Putting backspin on the ball and shooting with a high arc for a softer touch? Of course, that’s great. These fundamentals of shooting can be taught over and over, and they’re vital to success as a shooter. But how do the absolute best shooters in the world incorporate these fundamentals together, and what are they doing that makes them head and shoulders above other players? It’s simply this: They shoot the ball in a way that appears almost completely EFFORTLESS.
Watch Steph Curry and Kevin Durant, two of the top shooters and scorers in the game. Yes, they shoot with great rhythm and confidence, but it’s important not to overlook how relaxed they look as they move up and into their shot, specifically their arms and upper body. When you look at how deep their range is and how accurate they can be from 30 plus feet from the basket, it’s not because they are just so unbelievably strong that they can heave the ball that far. As far as physical strength, Curry and Durant are in the lower tier of NBA players. That’s not what’s important to their shooting range. Rather, they rely on an effortless, simultaneous motion of a simple snap of the wrist and extension of their shooting arm. That’s all it takes, and they’ve become masters of their craft.
If you want to improve as a shooter, take a page out of their notebooks. Focus on relaxing your upper body, gaining power from your legs, and letting it fly smoothly and effortlessly. Your finish should look like this: wrist snapped down, elbow fully extended, and your forearm muscle should be in a relaxed state. Tension anywhere in your shooting arm is your worst enemy. One of my coaches used to tell our team, “We want to be tough as nails on defense, and loosey goosey on offense.” Apply that to your shot. Breathe. Be loose. WANT the ball in your hands. Get your feet set and let it go. Trust the training and time you’ve put in to the point where you expect every shot to go in. What’s the most efficient way to reach that point in your game?
Shoot it effortlessly, every time. Over and over and over again.