In the game of basketball, the most powerful weapon, offensively, is a jump shot. Having an effective jumper allows you to extend the defense, be a threat at crunch time, score at will, earn the defenders respect, etc. To start off, we need to learn and remember the basics. There is an acronym that we use in the basketball world to remember the fundamentals of a jump shot. We use B.E.E.F as a starting point to get the basics down. Let me explain what B.E.E.F stands for and why it’s important:
Having a strong base is the first aspect of a perfect jump shot. After all, a jump shot begins with your lower body, not your upper body. Having great balance means your legs should be shoulder width apart and your shooting foot should be slightly ahead of your non-shooting foot. So, if you shoot with your right hand, then your right foot should be about a few inches in front of your left foot. Next, your knees should be slightly bent. Your feet and shoulders should be aligned with the basketball hoop. If you have someone available, you should have them give you a soft push. If you are wobbly, then that means your not balanced. If you hold strong, that means you have a solid base and are ready for the next step.
This is pretty obvious, right? You need to look at the basket to shoot. What you should be looking at is a personal choice. You can look at the front of the rim, middle or back. Personally, I’ve always looked at the back because more of my shots fall short than long. The key is to be consistent with what your target is and only concentrate on that spot (not the ball, your hand or anything else).
Keeping your elbow in will allow you to get the forward, straight motion you need when shooting a jump shot. Your elbow should be aligned with the basket at a 90-degree angle. The angle will allow you to have your hand on the ball in order to create a snap of the wrist. To be in control, the ball should be resting on the pads of your fingers with your off-hand on the side to help guide the shot.
The follow through is the key to a perfect jump shot. If you watch players with great jumpers, you will often see them leave the hand high in the air until the ball has reached the rim. After the ball leaves your hand, your arm, wrist and hand should resemble a goose neck. Another way to look at it is your arm should look like you are taking a cookie from a cookie jar in the top cabinet. The purpose of a follow through is to make sure you’re guiding the ball through the basket!
Your jump shot does not start with the wrist; it starts with the lift in your legs. You need to bend your knees to get the proper strength to shoot a basketball. A word of advice for young shooters, you don’t need to show off how high you can jump when shooting a basketball. I see so many young basketball players trying to get a high, unnecessary, lift when they struggle to reach the rim because they are off balance. Instead, work on the mechanics and jump, so you are comfortable.