When it comes to shooting a basketball, the key is consistency. The goal is to shoot the same jump shot every time, building muscle memory, but first it's critical to have the proper shooting form. Often times children learn to shoot a basketball with no regard for the correct form. They simply chuck the ball up at the goal to make a basket. If they chuck it long enough, bad techniques become bad habits that are difficult to break.
Ball return systems are great to work on consistency
Cameron Mills, the University of Kentucky's all-time leader in career 3-point shooting percentage, recalls working on his shooting form with his dad while in the third grade. But to help him learn how to shoot the ball properly, Cameron's father Terry didn't use a basket. Instead, he had Cameron lay on his back with a basketball in his hand and "shadow shoot" to work on his form. In order to learn the correct form, Mills did this drill consistently. "Shoot the ball up in the air and catch it," Mills says. "Over and over. My dad would watch to make sure I was doing it right. Keeping my elbow in."
This drill is an excellent way to learn the proper shooting form. To begin, have your child lay on their back in a room with a high ceiling. If right handed, they will place their left hand on the left side of the ball. If the ball were a clock, the left hand would be placed at 9 o'clock. Their right hand should be placed underneath the belly of the ball so that their middle finger is right over the nozzle of the ball. Make sure their elbow is directly underneath the ball and not sticking out. With their hands in position, have them flick their wrist to send the ball in the air with a vertical backward rotation. Catch and repeat. An age appropriate ball should be used.
When it comes to put the rest of the proper shooting mechanics to work, beginners should start with a lower hoop. As they get older, raise the rim and increase the size of the ball.
Before taking a shot, have your kids bend their knees to get good lift on their jump shot. If right handed, their right foot should be slightly ahead of their left, pointed directly at the basket. The key is for the shooter to have good balance by setting their feet and getting their shoulders squared up to the basket. When in midair, the shooter will flick their wrist and release the ball-aiming for the front of the rim. The shooting arm should finish high on the follow through-after a flick of the wrist, it should resemble a gooseneck.
Mastering a jump shot is an art form. It takes hours of practice to become a good shooter. By the time Mills reached high school, he was putting up 500 shots a day, teaching his muscles to react the same way every time. We referenced the former Kentucky guard's workout regimen for inspiration. "They will almost always find a place for you on the team if you are a great shooter," Mills explains.
Youth Fitness Magazine was created by SKLZ Team Member Doug Hix, with one mission in mind: to educate parents with knowledge and training tools that will help them make the best decisions for their children's sporting/fitness routine. To get the latest tips in training and nutrition, information on sports injuries and sports specific techniques, sign up at www.youthfitnessmag.com.