The greatest scorers of all-time have a short memory. They believe their next shot is the best possible shot on the court and is going in even if the previous 10 have missed the mark. As an example, Gotham Chopra, the director of the documentary “Kobe Bryant’s Muse”, once told a story about being with Kobe and watching the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets and the Miami Heat play. Recounts Gotham, “Deron Williams went like 0-for-9. I was like, ‘Can you believe Deron Williams went 0-9?’ Kobe was like, ‘I would go 0-30 before I would go 0-9. 0-9 means you beat yourself, you psyched yourself out of the game, because Deron Williams can get more shots in the game. The only reason is because you’ve just now lost confidence in yourself.’
As Kobe’s quote highlights, a player who lacks confidence in their shot may hesitate or second-guess themselves, which can negatively impact their ability to get buckets consistently. On the other hand, a player with a high level of shooting confidence is more likely to take and make shots with conviction, which can lead to increased scoring and offensive efficiency. So today, we’re going to take a look at some fun basketball shooting drills that can build confidence.
So grab your best outdoor or indoor basketball and hit the court to try out these five drills today. (If you need a new ball, we recommend the Evolution – size 7 for men, 6 for women, 5 for kids.) Keep track of how you do with each drill below (one of the best basketball apps – Nike’s Homecourt can easily help you track your makes and misses on every shot – and the basic level is free!) so you can see your progression over time. Over the course of completing these drills you’ll build confidence off the catch, off the dribble, and in game-like scenarios with quick decision making. Let’s get after it.
This drill is pretty fun and will quickly prove to you how precise you can make your shot! Basically you can pick any spot to shoot from, and shoot off the catch. You’re going to do one shot where you hit the front of the rim, one where you hit the back of the rim, one where you hit the right side of the rim, and one where you hit the left side of the rim. It’s OK if the ball doesn’t go in the basket: in fact it probably won’t. Your goal is just to hit that specific rim spot. Count your shots to see how many it takes you to get all 4 spots. Then try to beat it with fewer shots the next time. For strong shooters, we recommend doing this drill from a few spots behind the three. For everyone else, try this at a few mid-range spots. If you can hit all 4 spots exactly, surely you can place the ball in the net! This drill can be done with a partner or solo.
For this drill you’re going to shoot off the catch from behind the three-point line at five different spots. Starting in a corner, you need to make 5 shots in a row. Once you do that, you move to the next spot and make 4 shots in a row. Then 3 shots in a row, 2 shots in a row, and so on, until you’re making just 1 shot at the last spot. Time yourself and see if you can beat 2 minutes if you have a partner rebounding for you, or 4 minutes if you’re rebounding for yourself. The fastest we’ve seen this done so far is 35 seconds with a partner. If you can make 5 shots in a row from a hard angle like a corner, 1 shot anytime from anywhere should be easy! As always, if you’re a beginner, you can try this same drill from mid-range.
OK now you’re going to get some reps in, and build confidence through consistent movement and wracking up points. For this drill, we’ll use the same 5 spots behind the three-line. At each spot, you’re just taking 5 shots off the catch. If you miss any, take note of your self-talk, and ensure it’s staying positive and you’re visualizing success. Even the best shooters in the world miss shots! Former NBA player and coach Steve Kerr said, “Most guys go 0 for 5 and they go, ‘Oh my God, I may never make a shot again. If Steph [Curry] misses five in a row or 10 in a row, it doesn’t faze him. It’s one of the things that makes him great.” See if you can not miss more than one, and get right back into it. If you’re a beginner, you can do this same drill from mid-range. For this drill just track how many makes you have. Next time, try to beat that. This drill can be done with a partner or solo.
While the other drills have been off the catch with a partner throwing a ball to you, or you throwing one to yourself, on this drill you’re going to get to take a dribble. Now that you’ve had a chance to perfect your form and get in the flow, this drill will help you build confidence in your shot off the dribble. NBA Master Trainer who works with tons of athletes from Klutch Sports, Chris Johnson, uses this drill often. From 5 spots behind the three, you’re going to do a one dribble pull-up to the right, a catch and shoot, and a one-dribble pull up to the left. It’s OK to step into mid-range distance on your one dribble pull-ups. Similar to the last drill just track how many makes you have. Next time, try to beat that. This drill can be done with a partner rebounding or solo.
If you’re not sure what a one dribble pull-up is, watch this video:
OK now that you’ve built your confidence off the catch and off the dribble, it’s time to work on decision making in a game-like scenario. For this drill your defender is going to start about mid-way up the lane. The shooter is going to start at the three with their back to the basket. Whenever the shooter decides to go, they jump and turn around. As soon as the defender sees the shooter move, the play is live. The defender’s goal is to get out to the shooter and block the shot and play defense to not let them score. The shooter’s goal is to read how the defense is playing you, and get off a quick shot, or decide their close out is too effective, and instead dribble and get to the basket. The only rule is the shooter has to do something right away after turning. If you pause for too long, it’s a turn over and the defense gets the ball. Play this drill make it take it, and see who can get to 5 points first.
As former WNBA player and coach Lindsay Whalen shared, “Shooting is all about confidence. When you have confidence, you’re going to make shots. When you don’t have confidence, you’re going to miss shots. It’s that simple.” And after today’s practice, you’ve laid the building blocks for growing your confidence. Great work! Up next, explore shooting drills for a quick release and shooting drills for increasing your range.