The 55-minute shooting workout
Teaching the correct fundamentals of shooting can be frustrating at times, but it’s a must for every high school and middle school program. These days, it’s becoming commonplace to see players with a plethora of bad shooting habits. Many of these players have never been taught proper shooting technique at the lower levels.
We have a lot of flexibility in working with players during the offseason, and we use this time to get them started in the right direction. We begin working with our eighth graders in March after the high school season, and we work with the returning high school players in May before summer team camps and practices. We’ll spend a 55-minute shooting session with two players in the morning before school.
In this workout, we take the approach that we’re not changing players’ shot but rather making the necessary adjustments to get them to the next level. The following shooting workout details what we do with right-handed players, but you can easily make adjustments for lefties.
Form shooting (10 minutes)
The shooters start six inches from the front of the rim, and we have them practice from all three sides. As a goal, the shooter must swish 15 shots from each spot and rotate to all three spots for a total of 45 makes. This segment may take a while the first few times you introduce form shooting to your players, but nailing down the fundamentals of shooting is critical.
In this session, we’ll closely monitor all form shooting fundamentals, including foot placement (right foot in front of the left foot, with the left positioned at the right heel and the right foot pointed straight ahead), knees flexed (similar to the triple-threat position), hips square and shoulders square to basket at normal width.
The next step is ball placement in the shooting hand. We want the ball on the fingertips positioned so that there’s enough space for three fingers to get between the shooting hand and the ball. The wrist should be bent so that there’s a “wrist wrinkle” visible on the back of the shooting hand. For teaching purposes, the shooter starts with the right pointer finger under the ball’s air hole.
On the guide hand, the shooter must have a “power-T” formed with thumbs. The guide hand should be placed on ball and not gripping the ball in any way. The shooter’s elbows must form a V.
For the release point, the shooter starts in triple-threat position and we have them imagine a straight line down between the ball, shooting elbow and knee. We tell the shooter to keep their eyes focused on the front rings of the rim and keep them focused throughout the shot progression. The shooter must finish high and hold the follow through until the ball hits the floor.
10-footers (eight minutes)
The shooters take 10-foot shots from three spots — straight on, and to the left and right of the lane. Stress catching with the ball while the left foot is forward, and stepping to get the right foot forward on the catch. The shooters must show a great hand target for the passer and must have their rear down.
Players shoot jump shots until they achieve 20 makes from each spot. Continue to shoot if there’s time left.
Elbow to elbow (eight minutes)
Each shooter moves from elbow to elbow, taking 20 shots from each side. The goal is 12 makes from each elbow. Each player goes twice for 40 total attempts.
In this session, stress pivoting to your players. Shooters must pivot off the inside foot when going right (circle cuts from elbow to elbow) and use jump stops when going left.
Elbow to wing (eight minutes)
Shooters take 20 attempts from the right and left side of the floor, with a goal of 12 makes from each side.
Stress getting the feet ready and going at game-like speed from spot to spot. Shooters must use spot-up technique with left foot forward, and step to get feet positioned just like a free throw.
Elbow to short corner (eight minutes)
Same as previous session, except the shots alternative between the elbow and short corner.
Lane spin-outs (six minutes)
Both players go at the same time and start under the rim. They throw the ball with reverse spin anywhere into the lane and follow the ball to catch it on the bounce. They must make a circle cut, secure the ball, pivot into proper shooting position and shoot jump shots.
Remember, the shooter must pivot off the inside foot going right and jump stop when going left.
Spin-outs outside the lane, shot fake in the lane (seven minutes)
Players start under the rim and spin the ball in the air so that it lands outside the lane and within the 2-point area. The shooter follows the shot, catches, pivots, executes a shot fake (above the shoulders) and drives for a jump shot from inside the lane. Stress elevating in the lane and releasing the shot from its highest point.
This program has helped our teams develop excellent shooters over the years. We’ve had a player go 13 of 19 from the 3-point line in a game, and six players shot over 43 percent from 3-point territory for a season.
As the players’ shooting improves, you can incorporate 3-point shooting and more advanced drills into the workout.