Articles

Correcting Shooting Errors
By Hal Wissel

The most common errors in shooting are listed below, along with suggested trigger words to correct them. Trigger words are positive words, preferably one syllable words, that you associate with the correct mechanics of your shot and reinforce rhythm and confidence.

Error. Your shot is short.
Correction: A shot that is short is usually due to not using your legs, a slow or uneven rhythm, stepping back as you shoot or an incomplete follow-through. By seeing the reaction of the ball on the rim or by feel, you should be able to determine whether you need to emphasize force from your legs, a quicker or even paced rhythm, landing in the same spot, or holding follow-through up until the ball reaches the net, Suggested trigger words are “Legs! to use your legs. “Rhythm!” or “Down and Up!” to trigger the down and up action of your knees for rhythm and range. “Forward!” or “Head-in!” to trigger landing in the same spot rather than stepping back. “Through!” to trigger holding your follow-through up until the ball reaches the net.

Error: Your shot is long.
Correction: Your shooting arm is extending on too flat a trajectory (less than 45 degrees). Raise your shooting arm higher when you shoot putting a higher arc on your shot (45 to 60 degrees). Suggested trigger words are “Up!” “High!” or Arc!”
Another cause of missing long is leaning your shoulders back as the shoot. Shoot with your head and shoulders going forward and upward toward the rim as you follow-through. Suggested trigger words are “Forward!” or “Head-in!” The words “Head-in!” help because your body will go where your head goes.
Another cause of missing long is positioning your hands too far apart from each other on the ball preventing you from lifting the ball. Move your hands closer together.

Error: Your shot is inconsistently short or long.
Correction: You probably have incomplete and inconsistent elbow extension on your shots. Extend your arm with complete elbow extension on follow-through. Suggested trigger words are “Through!” or “Straight!”

Error: Your shot hits the right side of the rim (right-handed shot).
Correction: You are either not squared up facing the basket, or you are starting your shot with the ball set in front of your head and your elbow out causing your arm to extend to the right on the shot. Start with your body square to the basket. Set the ball high on the shooting side of your head between your ear and shoulder with your shooting hand facing the front of the rim. Keep your shooting elbow in to align the ball with the basket. Important note: Some players do not have the flexibility to place the shooting hand facing the basket while keeping the elbow in. In this case, the shooting hand facing front takes preference over the elbow in. First place the shooting hand facing the basket, then move the elbow in as far as your flexibility allows. This will enable you to shoot with your arm wrist and fingers going straight toward the basket. Suggested trigger words are “Front and Straight!”

Error: Your shot hits the left side of the rim (right-handed shot). 
Correction: You are either not squared up facing the basket, or you are starting your shot with the ball set on your right hip or too far to your right resulting in shoving the ball from right to left as you shoot. Shoving the ball is a fault that results from not using the down and up action of your knees for rhythm and range. Start with your body square to the basket. Set the ball high on the shooting side of your head between your ear and shoulder with your shooting hand facing front and your elbow in as far as your flexibility allows. Shoot with the down and up action of your legs and your shooting arm, wrist and finger going straight toward to the basket. Suggested trigger words are “Down and Up!” or “High and Straight!

Error: Your shot lacks range, control and consistency. You miss short, long or to either side.
Correction: You are probably lowering the ball and/or bringing the ball behind your head or shoulder and throwing the ball to the ball to the basket with an inconsistent follow-through.
To prevent lowering the ball, start with the ball high facing front. Use the down and up action of your knees for power, and lift the ball to the basket. Suggested trigger words are “High-Straight-Up!”
To prevent throwing the ball set the ball high facing front. Emphasize keeping the ball front and lift the ball to the basket using the down and up motion of your legs for power. Hold your follow-through up until the ball reaches the basket. Starting your shot facing front will give you a quicker release and less chance for error. Suggested trigger words are “Front-Lift-Through!”

Error: Your shot hits the side of the rim and circles out (right-handed shot).
Correction: You shot the ball with sidespin. The most common cause of sidespin is starting your shot with your shooting hand on the side of the ball and then rotating your hand behind it. If you over rotate your shooting hand, the ball will hit the right side of the rim with sidespin and roll left. If you under rotate, the ball will hit the left side of the rim and roll right. Some players like to lower the ball for rhythm. Learn to use the down and up action of your knees for rhythm. Lowering the ball or swiveling the ball from left to right will have the natural tendency to cause your shooting hand to go the side of the ball with the result being sidespin.

  • To prevent side rotation of your shooting hand set your shooting hand behind the ball so it faces the front of the basket. Start your shot high above your shooting side shoulder between your ear and shoulder. This will lead to a shorter shooting stroke and a quicker release with less chance for error and less chance of your shot being blocked. Suggested trigger words are “High-Front-Straight!”  Other causes of sidespin are the ball sliding off your ring finger rather than shooting off the pads of your index finger, moving your hand on the ball, or thumbing the ball with your non-shooting hand.
  • To prevent the ball sliding off your ring finger, set your index finger in the middle of the ball facing front and straight up. Release the ball off the pads of your index finger. Suggested trigger word is “Point!”
  • To prevent moving your hand on the ball, make sure your hand is set before you shoot. Suggested trigger word is “Hand!”
  • To prevent thumbing the ball with the thumb of your non-shooting hand, place the ring finger and little finger of your non-shooting hand under the ball. Position your non-shooting elbow out and your non-shooting thumb pointing at the basket. Squeeze the thumb and index finger of the non-shooting hand together to help you to shoot the ball only with your shooting hand. Set your shooting hand behind the ball and facing the basket and shoot with your hand and index finger pointing straight toward the basket. At first your shot may have a tendency to go to the left due to not getting the extra force from your non-shooting hand. You will learn to adjust by using more power from your legs and shooting hand. Suggested trigger words are “One-Straight!”

Error: Your shooting form looks good but you still miss. 
Correction: Have someone check to see if you are shooting the ball off your palm rather than the pads of your index finger. Use a handshake position with a relaxed thumb. This will form a natural cup in your hand position and keep your palm off the ball so you can release the ball off the pads of your index finger. Suggested trigger word is “Point!”
Another reason for missing when your form looks good may be due to your watching the flight of the ball. Focus on your target just over the front of the rim. Suggested trigger word is “Rim!”

Edited from:
Wissel, H. (2011). BASKETBALL: Steps to Success. Third Edition. Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL. Available at: www.basketballworld.com/store.html