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Basics on Shooting/ Shooting Drills

Basics of Shooting
The Mikan Drill
The X-O Drill
Foul Shooting

The drills listed on this page are only a few of the many, many drills for shooting a basketball.

Holding the ball:
The actual shooting of the ball is done with one hand placed under the ball. The other hand is there as a guide hand on the side of the ball. It isn't used at all in shooting except to stop the ball from falling to one side. Basically the shooting hand should be slightly "cupped", with the ball resting on the first digits of the fingers (fingertips), and "rim of the cupped hand". The fingers should be spread apart comfortably.

4 Basic Steps to Shooting (B.E.E.F)

I've got to give credit to a former NBA player named George Leaman who gave an interesting clinic on shooting at Millersville University one day. He held the clinic while sinking foul shot after foul shot with no misses. BEEF is his way of teaching fundamentals of shooting. I've been showing it to our rinks team for a few years now, and the players catch on well.

"B" is for "Balance"

This means that your feet should be comfortably spread about shoulder width apart. If you are right-handed, your right foot should be slightly ahead of your left foot. (Vice versa if you're left-handed). Your knees should be slightly bent to lower your center of gravity (your belly-button). Knees should bend straight ahead not toward the sides. Your head should be centered between your shoulders, and not tilted front or back. Try to look up by moving your eyes, not tilting your head back. Your head is heavy, and too much head movement can mess up "B"alance.

"E" is for "Eyes"

This means that your eyes must focus on, and stay focussed on, your target which is the basket. It could be the backboard area, the front of the rim, or the side of the rim (it depends where you're shooting from), but you must remain focussed. Like a camera, the only thing you see is the target. All other side distractions should not be noticed. You need peripheral vision at other times during the game, but when it comes to shooting, it's time to focus those "E"yes.

"E" is for "Elbows"

The elbow of your shooting hand must remain under the ball. Hold the ball in your shooting hand and balance it there. Don't touch the ball with your other hand. Cup your hand and balance the ball. Your elbow is under the ball if you hold it close to your body in the front. Your shooting foot, knee, elbow and hand should be in a straight line. Another way to test whether your elbow is under the ball is to hold the ball as you would right before you shoot it. If you are right-handed, put your left hand (guide hand) behind your back. If the ball falls to the ground, your elbow was not under the ball. If your elbow is pointing anywhere else but straight down, it is not under the ball.

"F" is for "Follow Through"

As you shoot, the last part of your body to touch the ball is your fingertips on your shooting hand. To make the ball travel in a straight line, you must put a "backspin" on the ball. To do this, as you let go of the ball, pretend you are waving good-bye to it. Flick your wrist straight downward. You'll see the ball spin backwards as it travels toward the basket. Passing also involves backspin. To test if you are getting backspin on the ball, lie on your back on the floor with a basketball in your hands. Shoot the ball straight up in the air above your face,and keep your hands up to catch it when it comes down. If you have backspin, the ball will go straight up, and come straight down into your hands. If you don't have backspin, the ball comes down somewhere else.
  • B....BALANCE
  • E....Eyes
  • E....Elbow
  • F....Follow Through

A layup is a shot a player takes while on the run. It is shot from a spot near the basket, but not directly under it. A few points to remember in shooting a layup are:
  1. Get a good angle as you drive toward the basket.Your best angle coming from the sideline at foul-line extended is to come in over the block along the post line.
  2. "Square up" to the basket. This means your toes should point toward the basket, and your shoulders should be squared to the basket.
  3. Jump straight up at the point of release. Right-handers should jump off the left foot, and bend their right knee. Left-handers use the opposite foot. Eyes focused on the backboard just above the net and on the same side of the backboard as you are shooting from
  4. Use the backboard. By shooting it softly off the backboard, it has a better chance to go in. The exception to this is a center layup. On a center layup, the player drives down the middle of the lane and lays the ball up over the front of the rim. Still follow tip #2.
  5. Keep moving after the shot. Remember a layup is shot on the run. Continue moving under the basket and around to the opposite sideline.

The standard layup drill consists of half the team lined up behind halfcourt on the sideline. The other half of the team lines up at halfcourt on the opposite sideline. Both lines are facing the same basket. The players in one line shoot the ball while the opposite line rebounds the shot. The rebounder passes to the next shooter, the hustles to the end of the shooter line. The shooter continues under the basket after the shot, and hustles to the end of the rebounder line. Players should shoot right-hand layups (dribbling right), left-hand layups (dribbling left), and center layups (dribbling either hand).
Alternative Layup Drills:
(1) Use 2 balls to keep the drill moving twice as fast and twice the number of shots.
(2) As rebounder grabs rebound, next shooter starts hustling to the basket. Rebounder leads him with a good bounce pass, which the shooter lays up right away.
(3) See
X-O Drill

The Mikan Drill
The Mikan Drill is a timed drill and involves only one player at a time. The drill is excellent as a "station drill" in a multi-drill group. The Mikan drill is rather simple. The player stands on the block with the ball. When the coach blows the whistle, he starts shooting the ball off the backboard. Once he makes the shot, he hustles under the basket for the rebound, and takes a shot from the opposite block. The player must square up (toes pointed toward the basket, and shoulders squared). He continues to shoot rotating from one side to the other for 30 seconds. He should record the number of shots and number of made baskets.

An alternative to the one-player Mikan Drill is the 2 man version. Here a player is placed on each block. Player A shoots; player B rebounds and shoots; player A then rebounds and shoots. Drill continues for 30 seconds. Then another pair of players steps in.

This drill also helps players who post up alot down under the basket. If they get the rebound above the head, bring the ball down no lower than the shoulders before taking it back up.

The X-O Drill
The X-O Drill is a timed drill and involves only one player at a time. This drill is great for conditioning as well as shooting layups from the right and left sides. The player starts at one of the 2 elbows. (The elbows are located at the ends of the foul line.) On the whistle, the player drives in, shoots the layup, rebounds and dribbles out to the opposite elbow. There he turns around, switches his dribble to the other hand and drives for the layup on the opposite side. He again rebounds, and dribbles out the elbow where he started. The time is 30 seconds to 1 minute to see how many layup shots can be made.