Jump Shot Mechanics
By Hal Wissel
The mechanics of shooting include balance, sight, hand position, elbow-in alignment, shooting rhythm, and follow-through. To develop your shot it is best to concentrate on only one or two mechanics at a time.
1. Balance: Your base, or foot position, is the foundation of your balance. Spread your feet comfortably to shoulder width with your toes straight and knees slightly flexed. Your head controls your balance. Your head and shoulders should be slightly forward, and over your waist and feet. Your hands should be up. We like to say have your hands and feet ready.
2. Sight: Focus your eyes on the basket, aiming just over the front of the rim for all shots except bank shots. For bank shots, aim for the top near corner of the box on the backboard. Sight your target as soon as possible and keep your eyes focused on the target until the ball reaches the goal. Your eyes should never follow the flight of the ball or your defender’s hand. Concentrating on the target helps eliminate distractions such as your opponent’s hand, a hard foul, shouting, and towel waving.
3. Hand Position: Hand position is the most misunderstood part of shooting. Start with you shooting hand set high (between your ear and shoulder) and facing the front of the basket with your index finger at the ball’s midpoint. Your non-shooting (balance) hand should be slightly under the ball. The ball balances on at least two fingers: the ring and the little finger. This leaves your shooting hand free to shoot the ball, rather than having to balance and shoot the ball. A relaxed hand position (like a handshake) forms a natural cup, enabling the ball to be released off the pads of your index finger and not your palm. This leads to a soft touch and your shooting hand going straight.
4. Elbow-In Alignment: Hold the ball comfortably in front of and above your shooting-side shoulder between your ear and shoulder. Keep your shooting elbow in. Keeping your shooting elbow in, aligns the ball with the basket. 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.
5. Rhythmical Shooting Motion: Shoot the ball with a smooth, evenly paced, rhythmical lifting motion. Rhythm and range come from the down-and-up motion of your legs. Use the down-and-up motion of your legs for rhythm rather than lowering the ball for rhythm. Your legs and shooting arm work together. As your legs go up, your arm goes up. As your legs reach full extension, your back, shoulders, and shooting arm extend in a smooth, continuous upward direction. Keeping the ball high fosters a quick release and also provides less chance for error. The amount of force you impart to the ball depends on the range of the shot. For short distances, the arm, wrist, and fingers provide most of the force. Long-range outside shots require more force from your legs, back, and shoulders. Smooth rhythm and a complete follow-through will also improve 3-point shooting.
6. Follow-Through: Direct your arm, wrist, and fingers straight toward the basket at a 45- to 60-degree angle, extending your shooting arm completely at the elbow. Keep your balance hand on the ball until the point of release. Hold your arm up in a complete follow-through position until the ball reaches the basket. Holding your follow-through up is not only good mechanics, but it also makes you look and act like a shooter and increases confidence.
Jump Shot Mechanics