Being able to shoot well is the most important skill in basketball. When you can knock down any shot, it empowers you not only to contribute meaningfully to your team’s scoring efforts, but also to help create space for your teammates because you’re always a threat, stretching the floor, giving your team an advantage. The late Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant, who himself would shoot 800 shots in practice daily, said that shooting is the most important skill in basketball because it allows a player to score points and impact the game. To achieve that, he emphasized the importance of developing a consistent shooting form and practicing shooting regularly in order to become a better shooter. So today we’ll take a look at some of the best shooting drills for beginners.
We’ll start close to the basket with a high focus on form, and build your range, moving all the way out to the three-point line. We’ll also add in some reaction, to put you in more of a game-like scenario so you can work on your decision making. So grab your best outdoor basketball and let’s get after it. Don’t forget to have fun! Keep track of how you do with each drill every day (one of the best basketball apps – Nike’s Homecourt can easily help you track – and the basic level is free!) so you can see your progression over time.
OK we’re going to start with the very basics and progress from there. So for starters we’re going to work on your basic form very close to the basket. Stand a few feet away from the basket in shooting position (pretend you’re sit in a chair). Hold the ball in your shooting hand out in front of your waist, with your forearms upwards. Don’t touch the ball with your off hand. Guide the ball up to your shooting height with your one hand. Shoot the ball with your one hand and guide it very closely with the other – but still don’t touch it with that one! Push your arm up, snap your wrist to grab the cookie from the cookie jar, and hold your follow through until the ball goes all the way through the net. Get 10 makes.
This drill will help you get in that nice seated position for your shot. Stay close to the basket, the same spot from drill one is a fine place to begin. Dribble the ball once – a short, squat dribble, and rise with the ball right into your shot. Get into your shooting rhythm by sitting in your chair going down with the ball as it goes down, and then rising with the dribble to take your shot. Here’s an example of Damian Lillard doing this in a game. Get 10 makes from three different spots. Stay close enough to the basket that you don’t have to jump. Then do the same thing but a bit further back, and do jump. When you jump think about jumping the way you jump on a pogo stick – push up high, and then think about how you jump off a diving board, you want to end up with your body a bit more forward than where you started so you can get over the edge of the board.
OK now we can start pushing back your shooting range a bit. Start at the top of the three, with the ball in your non-shooting hand. Get in a low seated position, and pass the ball from your off hand to your shooting hand under your leg (on the side you’re shooting on). Not a bounce under the leg, literally pass the ball in the air from your left hand to your right under your right leg, for example. This forces you stay low and stay in your seat, so it’s easy to rise right into your shot off the one-drill pull up. Pass the ball through your leg, take one dribble with your shooting hand, and then shoot. Get 10 makes to the right and 10 makes to the left.
Now that you’ve worked on your form and rhythm, it’s time to put it all together and start building consistency. Pick five spots around the lane. Get two makes in a row at each of the five spots. If you miss three in a row at any spot, move back to the previous spot, and start there again. The run back the same drill but this time have someone play light defense on you from each of the spots.
Now it’s time to add in something to defense. If you have a friend or parent with you, have them be the defense. The defense starts on a lane block facing out towards the three-point line. The shooter starts at the three-point line in front of the defender. The shooter dribbles in place. Whenever the defense wants, they start running at the shooter, closing out. The shooter has to react and get their shot off in time (and make it!). Try to earn two points at three different three point locations: the offense gets a point when they make a shot, the defense gets a point when they block the shot. You can also do this drill on the foul line too. Have the defender start on one side of the foul line with the shooter off at the other side. This time the offense gets to go first. The shooter dribbles in place then takes a pound dribble into a side step and shoots. The defense rushes to close out as soon as they see.
Layups are an important part of your offensive package so it’s good to work on making these shots. Named for Hall of Fame player George Mikan, this drill will help you build speed, versatility, and accuracy in the lane. Stand on the right side of the basket in the lane, facing the baseline, with the ball. Make a right-hand layup, jumping off your left foot. Rebound the ball. Now shift to the other side of the basket with a simple side shuffle. Make a layup from that side, jumping off your right leg and shooting with your left arm. Keep repeating back and forth for 30 seconds to see how many you can make.
Here’s an example:
Once that’s easy, and you don’t have any misses, try a Mikan drill variation:
Start today to improve your basketball shooting. These effective drills will help you improve your accuracy, increase your shooting speed, and help you build your confidence too. Soon, you’ll be just like Allie Quigley of the Chicago Sky, who’s made a total of 573 three-point field goals in her 13 seasons in the WNBA, which ranks her fifth all-time in the league. She’s also the first four-time winner of the WNBA’s All-Star Three Point Shooting Contest and took down CP3 in a wild game of horse.
Allie dished to Players Tribune about the impact a good shooter can make on the game, “I’m a huge Steph Curry fan — just ask any of my teammates. And one of the biggest lessons that I’ve really taken to heart, since the Warriors started on this amazing run of theirs … it’s this idea that, you know, shooting the lights out from three — that doesn’t have to be just some specialist thing, or just a role-player thing. It can be a star thing, too. I think Steph — and Klay, and Coach Kerr, and this entire era — has really proven to people how, if you have a high enough caliber of shooter.… I mean, they can dictate how the entire game is played.“
“A great shooter can dominate. And most of all: a great shooter can win titles. And that’s exciting, to me — to be playing in an era where that seems possible.”