by: J.R. Duren –
Everyone wants to be a shooter; you can thank Steph Curry for that.
While we all still love a thunderous dunk, it’s hard to argue that a last-second, game-winning half-court shot from Curry isn’t as thrilling as Zach Lavine gliding through the air and hammering down a mind-blowing dunk.
Unfortunately, mastering a good jump shot is much harder than perfecting the alley-oop. Just ask Shaquille O’Neal, who had a hard enough time sinking standing free throws, let alone jump shots from the elbow.
One of the keys to becoming a sharpshooter is repetition; no explanation needed there. Just practice, practice, practice.
But beyond persistence, there are some mechanical adjustments you can make to your shot that will improve your accuracy.
The Three-Chair Drill: Learning How to Control Your Jump
Control is a big part of being a good jump shooter. If you can stop your movement, jump and land in the same spot, you’re getting close.
The three-chair drill is something we picked up from sports-performance site Stack. Basically, you line up three chairs behind the three-point line at the top of the key.
You start at half court and sprint toward the chairs. Your partner passes the ball and you catch, jump, shoot and descend in one fluid motion without hitting the chairs on the way up or the way down. Here’s a video of the drill in action:
Looks easy, right? Try doing twenty reps in multiple spots around the three-point line.
Focus on the Height of Your Arc
One of the things that makes Steph Curry an excellent shooter is the arc he gets on his shots. Whether he’s draining three’s from just behind the line or sinking a shot from half court, he always has a beautiful, soaring arc on his ball.
This isn’t just a stylistic preference, though. Science shows that by changing the arc on your shot, you can increase the chances of making it by five. Crazy, right? But it’s true; your shot is five times more likely to go in.
According to Breakthrough Basketball, a shot with an arc angle of 35 degrees has a 0.6-inch margin of error as it passes through the rim. In other words, you’ve got about a little more than a quarter of an inch on each side of the ball as it drops into the net.
However, if you change your arc to 45 degrees, your margin of error leaps to six inches, or three inches on both sides of the ball. Huge difference.
“As a general rule of thumb, finish your follow through with the rim clearly visible beneath the fingers of your shooting hand,” Breakthrough Basketball says. “That way, you will ensure that you have a decent arc on the shot. Shots with proper arch have a much better chance of going in.”
Get Low and You’ll Improve
USA Basketball gave us this tip, and it’s a good one.
Successful jump shooters maintain a low center of gravity during the course of play. Their legs are bent and they move with their hips. Doing so allows them to move quickly and with agility.
However, staying low takes a lot of strength, which is why tired players are usually more upright and less accurate with their shots.
To combat this, USA Basketball suggests the obvious (but painful) truth: more squats, dead lifts and lunges in the weight room. You’ll see the results, though, and they’ll be worth it: better cuts, better balance and better shooting percentage.
Do the Flip Drill
Form is a big part of shooting well, and one of the most important aspects of form is your wrist flip. A relaxed wrist and wide, fingertip control of the ball are the hallmarks of a great shooter.
The NBA’s Toronto Raptors released a guide to good jump shooting. There’s tons of good tips (you can read them here), but what stood out to us was the flip drill.
Unlike the last tip, this drill requires you to keep your legs still and use only one hand to shoot. The goal is to get a solid wrist flip along with full extension in your follow-through. The key, the Raptors say, is a consistent swish.
Also mix in bank shots, trying to aim for one spot on the backboard and getting as close to that spot as you can.
The goal? Try and make as many shots in a row as possible.
Fundamentals are What Tie the Greats Together
The last tip comes from the master himself, Steph Curry, who gave Forbes contributor Hunter Atkins a workshop on how to shoot well.
Every shooter has their own shooting style, Curry said. Reggie Miller’s unorthodox style was far different than Larry Bird, whose style was different than Steve Kerr and Jason Terry.
However, what happened from the waist down was pretty much the same for each of these deadly marksmen. Their feet were shoulder-width apart with the dominant foot slightly ahead of the other foot, Curry said. All 10 toes should point to the basket.
“If your toes, hips and abdomen face the basket, the odds are better that you’ll shoot on target,” Adkins wrote.