If you live and breathe basketball like me, chances are you’ve adjusted and readjusted your jump shot to find that consistent accuracy. However, there are a few common techniques I’ve noticed from watching the best shooters in history, such as Steve Nash, Stephen Curry and Ray Allen, to name a few from my generation. While the perfect jump shot ultimately comes down to your personal preference, here are a few tips for designing a consistent and reliable jump shot.
As with many things in life, developing something with consistency and built to last starts with a solid base. When it comes to a jump shot, you’re going to want to keep your feet shoulder-width apart and square your chest and feet up to the basket as much as you can. In a fast-paced game, squaring your body up to the basic isn’t always going to be possible, but it’s good to practice the habit. It’s also important to keep your weight centered between your feet so that you aren’t leaning to one side when rising up.
Your chest should be as vertical as possible to keep your body in a positive position and help your head stay up and aware. Finally, make sure that you are resting on the balls of your feet as opposed to being flat-footed, in case you need to explode to the basket past a defender closing out.
This is where the more subtle mechanics start to come in. If you are a right handed shooter, you’re going to want to make sure your left hand is straight as an arrow, pointing toward the basket and the ball leaves your hand. With the shooting hand, you’re going to want to have a small gap between the ball and the palm of your hand.
Make sure to completely extend the right arm as you shoot as opposed to leaving it in a chicken-wing position so you always get that same consistent release. The wrist should flick in a motion similar to reaching into the cookie jar on a high shelf, giving the ball a nice rotation. Feel the ball roll off the three middle fingers rather than your thumb or pinky to keep the ball from veering off to the side. Ideally, the last finger that should be touching the ball is your middle finger. A high and early release is recommended to get your shot off on a defending closing out to contest.
Once your mechanics are in place, the last aspect to adjust is the arc of your shot. This is a bit of a feel-it-out sort of fix, so you’ll need to put in the hours at the gym to get a feel for your consistent arc. Most shots enter the basket somewhere between 35 – 55 degrees, however, the most consistent shooters aim for that perfect 45 degree angle, which gives the ball the best chance to swish through the hoop without clanging on the rim.
Even the best shooters in the history of the game had off-nights. Last season, All-Star Guard Klay Thompson endured one of the most head scratching shooting slumps for a player of his reputation and skill. However, in order to prevail from the slump, you have to shoot with the mentality that every shot that leaves your hand is going in. In fact, it helps to picture the ball going through the net, the sound that it makes as it plunges through the nylon. Being able to have the confidence to shoot that next open look can be the difference maker in a game. As Michael Jordan once said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
As I said before, there is no technically perfect jump shot that will work for everyone. In fact, some of the greatest shooters of all time had some small quirks, such as Kevin Durant’s angled foot base or Larry Bird’s slingshot-style release. While the above tips may help improve your consistency, at the end of the day it’s all about getting the shots up, hour after hour, day after day.