If you’re a good basketball shooter, the coach will find a spot for you on the floor, especially at the high school level. Thus, it becomes extremely important to learn the correct basketball shooting technique, and to practice various shooting drills over and over and over again. Larry Bird didn’t become one of the greatest shooters of all-time just because he had a pretty shot. He practiced relentlessly too.
It’s amazing how many kids don’t know how to shoot a basketball correctly. They can’t even explain the correct shooting technique, let alone demonstrate it. So we use a couple of cues to correct even the most horrid shooter’s shots. Once again, we use the Wooden approach to improving a basketball player’s shot: quick, short cues not long explanations, as well as showing the player how to do it correctly, showing them how they are doing it, and then showing them how to do it correctly one more time.
3 Cues for Better Basketball Shooting
Start Small End Tall
We actually stole this one from Ganon Baker. Very few kids actually explode into their shot. They start way too tall and never get their legs involved. They may shoot fine 8-10 feet from the basket in stationary drills, but once we move them to the 3 point line or it comes the 4th quarter, every shot becomes short. And if it isn’t short, it’s on a line drive with little hope of going in. Plus, a tall shooter coming off the screen is a slow, poor shooter.
So we use the cue “start small, end tall.” Originally, we would use cues like “bend the knees”, “push the hips back”, “sit back”, or “hip hinge.” We like “start small, end tall” better because it not only reminds the shooter to explode into their shot by pushing their hips back, but it also reminds them to end in an extended position with a great follow through. Essentially, it gives us the best bang for our buck in the fewest words possible. We quickly found out that the fewer words we use, the more likely the athletes will remember it.
Snap the Elbow
This is one of the biggest basketball shooting mistakes we see with female players: not extending their follow through. They will continually short arm their shot. That almost always results in a line drive.
Once again, we used to use “snap the wrist”, “hand in the rim”, “up and out”, and “shoot out of the telephone booth.” However, we like “snap the elbow” better because it solves multiple problems with one cue. It reminds the athlete to extend the follow through. It also reminds them to shoot up and then out as it’s almost impossible to really snap your elbow without extending your arm up first. And it indirectly reminds the athlete to snap their wrist on the follow through because once you snap your elbow, your wrist will automatically snap. The result: a beautiful arching shot that touches nothing but the net.
Middle to Middle
This is another wrist/elbow problem we see often with basketball shooters. Either the shooter will snap their wrist to the inside/outside of the rim, or they will have their elbow sticking out and not lined up towards the basket. Although the shooter can make adjustments for these and still be a good shooter, she will never be a great shooter without thousands of hours of practice t o compensate for the error in technique.
We used to use cues like “center of the rim”, “back of the room”, or “grab the rim”, but we like “Middle to the Middle” better. Once again, it attacks two problems with as few words as possible. Players are reminded to take their middle finger to the middle of the rim (where the middle finger goes, the hand will follow), as we as line up the middle of their elbow to the middle of the rim. Thus, their accuracy should be improved tremendously. If they miss shots, they should always be missing long or short, never right or left.
All three of these cues are absolutely useless unless you explain the meanings behind them. You always have to speak the same language as the athlete. What you say may not always be what they hear. Thus, we usually make the athletes repeat it back to us in their own words just to see if they are hearing what we’re saying. Plus, it also gives us the opportunity to find a cue that may be a better fit. Once we’re both on the same page as far as cues are concerned, shooting drills become a lot more efficient and effective with as a little talking as possible.