“Top of the Shot” – Releasing the Ball

The higher the arc of the ball, the higher the probability that it will go into the basket. This is facilitated by having a “high release” point – elbow above eyes.

The shooting hand is underneath the ball, as is the elbow.

In the course of shooting, the player should look underneath the ball, not over the top of it, to sight the target.

The arc of the shot is enhanced by the ball spinning backwards in flight. As the ball is released, the player should flick their wrist, putting spin on the ball.

This flick is a relaxed movement. The fingers of the shooting hand should remain spread and not squeezed together. The only movement is in the wrist.

The other hand simply releases from the ball – it should not push the shot at all.

Teaching a “Fluid” Shooting Style

Whether a shot is taken after dribbling or after catching the ball, the shot will usually start at approximately hip height.  Many players have a habit of pausing in their shot technique at their forehead, which is often the result of practicing the “form” of their shot from that point.

This type of “concept” shooting can be valuable as the player learns to push up to a high release point, however, equally important is having a “fluid” shot technique without a pause.  Any pause will both slow the release of the shot (which makes it harder to shoot under defensive pressure) and may also reduce the power that comes from the legs.

A simple method to practice a fluid shot technique is:

  1. The player stands on the “no charge” circle, facing “side-on” to the basket.
  2. If the player shoots right-handed, their left shoulder should be closest to the basket. The opposite applies for a left- handed shooter.
  3. The player starts with the ball in the “shooting pocket”, as if they have picked it after dribbling. Their shooting hand should be behind the ball, with elbow pointing behind them.  Their non-shooting hand is on the side of the ball.
  4. The player makes a 90° forward pivot, which will have them facing the basket.
  5. A right-handed shooter will step with their right foot and a left-handed shooter steps with their left foot.
  6. As their stepping foot lands, they push up with their legs and lift the ball as high as possible, finishing standing with their heels off the ground. The shooting hand should be underneath the ball and the non-shooting hand on the side of the ball.  This “release point” should be as high as possible.
  7. After a few repetitions without releasing the ball, the player then shoots the ball – jumping into the air if they wish.