Basketball Shooting Lead-up Drills

Basketball Shooting Lead-up Drills
By Dr. Hal Wissel

Shooting close to the basket as a warm-up helps you develop confidence, rhythm and mechanics.

Strong-Hand Shooting Warm-up
One-hand shooting, using either the strong hand or the weak hand, is an excellent way to develop your ability to start and complete a shot with your shooting hand facing the front of the rim. This helps eliminate side rotation. It also fosters lifting the ball to the basket rather than throwing the ball. This drill is particularly beneficial if your non-shooting hand tends to interfere with your shot (for example, if you thumb the ball with your non-shooting hand). Start about nine feet from the basket with your shooting hand facing the front of the rim while keeping your elbow in as far as your flexibility allows. Your shooting hand is above your shoulder between your ear and shoulder. Use your non-shooting hand to place the ball in your shooting hand. Do not reach for the ball with your shooting hand. Now lower your non-shooting hand to your side. Balance the ball in your shooting hand with your index finger at the ball’s midpoint. Lift the ball to the basket rather than throw it. Use your personalized key words in rhythm with your shot or when you are correcting your shot.

Weak-Hand Shooting Warm-up
Perform the drill in the same way as the Strong Hand Warm-up, but use your weak hand. When using your weak hand, you may have a tendency to shove the ball and miss toward the opposite side of the rim. Emphasize the down-and-up movement of your legs, which will help your range and ability to lift the ball straight to the basket. Consider using the key words “Down and up!”

Three-Finger Shooting Drill
This drill enables you to focus on shooting the ball off the pads of you index finger with a soft touch. You will use only three fingers in this drill – the ring finger and little finger of your non-shooting hand to balance the ball and the index finger of your shooting hand to shoot the ball. Start about nine feet from the basket with your shooting hand facing the front of the rim while keeping your elbow in as far as your flexibility allows. Place your shooting hand is above your shoulder between your ear and shoulder. Check that your shooting hand forearm is at a right angle to the floor and that it forms an L with your upper arm. This position helps you lift the ball to the basket rather than throw it. Balance the ball with your non-shooting hand under the ball. Keep the elbow of your non-shooting hand out. Bring the ball to your shooting hand. Now balance the ball using only the pinky and ring finger of your non-shooting hand. The other fingers of your non-shooting hand should be off the ball. Place the pads of the index finger of your shooting hand behind the ball at the ball’s midpoint. Lift the ball to the basket and release the ball off the pads of your index finger with a soft touch emphasizing the key word Point! Follow through by fully extending your shooting arm and pointing your index finger over the front of the rim.

Jump Shot Warm-up
The objectives of this drill are to develop confidence, rhythm and range in shooting jump shots. Start in a balanced stance with your knees slightly flexed about nine feet in front of the basket. Use your non-shooting hand to place the ball in your shooting hand. Do not reach for the ball with your shooting hand. Rhythm and range come from the down and up action of your legs. As your legs go up your shooting arm goes up. Say your three personalized key words in rhythm from the start of your shot to the release of the ball. Recommended key words for developing range are “Down and up! Hold your follow through straight up until the ball goes through the net and bounces back to you. is not only mechanically correct, but you will look and act like a shooter.

Shooting From a Chair
Shooting from a chair fosters consistency in lifting the ball to the basket and extending the elbow completely on the follow-through. It is the single best lead-up drill for developing free throw shooting and 3-point range. Shooting from a chair helps you learn how to center yourself both mentally and physically. When you are physically centered, you are in a state of readiness; your muscles relax and you breathe a little deeper and more slowly than usual. When you are physically centered it helps you become mentally centered. You become more alert, focused and confident. Centering allows you to raise your center of gravity and transfer your force from back to shoulders to follow-through. This helps you generate full power for your shot. Start about nine feet from the basket with your shooting hand facing the front of the rim while keeping your elbow in as far as your flexibility allows. Your shooting hand is above your shoulder between your ear and shoulder. Use your non-shooting hand to place the ball in your shooting hand. Do not reach for the ball with your shooting hand. The index finger of your shooting hand should be at the ball’s midpoint. Before shooting visualize a successful shot with good form. Keep your shoulders front on the shot. Lift the ball to the basket rather than throw it. Say your personalized key words with confidence and rhythm from the start of the shot to the release of the ball. Emphasize the last word for force. The recommended last word is “Through!” Use feedback from the feel of the shot and its distance, direction, and reaction on the rim. If the shot was short, emphasize the key word “Through!” To increase distance, use a sequential buildup of force using the key words “Back-front-through!” 

Basketball Shooting Lead-up Drills

Edited from: Wissel, H. (2011). BASKETBALL: Steps to Success. Third Edition. Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL.

Wissel, Hal. (2009). Basketball Shooting: Make Your Shot Automatic DVD. Basketball World, Suffield, CT. Wissel, Hal. (2005). Basketball Shooting: Confidence, Rhythm and Mechanics DVD. Basketball World, Suffield, CT.

Dr. Hal Wissel conducts SHOOT IT BETTER Mini Camps worldwide and year round for players ranging from NBA and WNBA to youth level. Visit: http://www.basketballworld.com  or call BASKETBALL WORLD at 888-812-5452 or 860-668-7162