The explanation of "how to shoot a basketball" is not cut and dried. Making jump shots on the basketball court is no easy task. It takes hours of hard work to learn how to put that orange ball through the hoop. Even more frustrating, there are a million "techniques" taught by so-called experts, all claiming to be the right way to shoot the ball.
I'm going to let you in on a little secret.
The most important thing about shooting a basketball is to put the ball through the rim. It doesn't matter how it gets there. Great shooters make shots. I teach the traditional way to shoot a basketball, because it has worked for me throughout my career (I shot 40% from 3-point range in college and in the pros). I believe it gives you the best chance to make shots consistently; but the reality is that throughout NBA history, there have been guys who had less than picture-perfect form, but were still great shooters.
The most important thing you need to learn is to shoot the same shot every single time.
I advocate the BEEF method, which establishes a solid foundation for building an accurate jump shot.
I'll run you through the four fundamentals of how to shoot a basketball, which will allow you to be consistent every time the ball leaves your hand.
1. Base (or balance)
A solid base gives your jump shot great balance from start to finish as you start your shooting motion.
Maintaining great balance throughout your shot requires two things: positioning your feet about shoulder-width apart and firmly under your shoulders (if your feet are staggered or narrow, you can be off balance); and pointing your torso and head toward the basket throughout your shot (meaning your body is pointed in a straight line toward the target, so you can direct the ball toward your target instead of off to the side).
RELATED: How to Shoot a Floater
If the upper part of your arm can form a 90-degree angle with your torso, it will help you shoot in a straight line toward the rim. This technique gives you a consistent shooting pocket, so you can release the ball from the same position each and every time. A common mistake poor shooters make is jutting their elbow out to the side of their body, giving the ball unwanted sidespin or an unpredictable flight path.
Before you release the basketball, it is critical to direct your gaze toward the front of the rim. Your focus should be locked in on your target before you even start getting into your shot.
Your eyes are your body's navigation system. Once you start your shot, your eyes tell the rest of your body where you want the ball to go. This become even more crucial when you are shooting off screens or shooting while moving. Personally, I look at the front of the rim, but I know great shooters who look at the back of the rim when they get their eyes up. Whatever part of the rim you decide to focus on, the important thing is that your head looks up before you start your shooting motion.
Another thing to remember: don't follow the flight of the ball as you release it into the air. This takes your focus off the rim and makes you less accurate.
4. Follow-Through (flick your wrist)
Following through and flicking your wrist is the last piece of the shooting motion, and it's a crucial component when learning how to shoot a basketball. When you release the ball, your wrist should flick toward the target as if you were reaching on top of a high shelf to grab a cookie out of a jar.
When you follow through properly, the ball should roll off your tips of your pointer finger and middle finger, which will produce good backspin on the ball, giving your shot a soft touch and increasing your chance of getting a friendly roll on the rim. You know you will have done it correctly if your wrist is flexed to the point where your fingers point down toward the ground.
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock