How to Hold a Basketball When Shooting 2024: Experts Explain

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Perfect your shooting technique by mastering how to hold a basketball when shooting. With my expert tips, you’ll optimize your grip for accuracy and precision on the court.

How to Hold a Basketball When Shooting: Getting Started

Understanding the Basketball

Get familiar with the feel and weight of the basketball. You should be able to comfortably hold the ball with one hand, with your fingers appropriately spaced to maintain control.

The Grip

Your shooting grip is vital for control and accuracy. Position your shooting hand on the side of the basketball with your fingers spread out. The ball should rest gently on your fingertips, not your palm. For detailed examples and drills to enhance your grip, explore effective grip techniques at Triple Threat Tactics.

Stance and Balance

Your stance is as important as your grip when preparing to shoot. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart to ensure optimal balance. Slightly bend your knees to lower your center of gravity, which will help you remain stable throughout the shot. Your shooting foot (the one on the same side as your shooting hand) should be slightly ahead of the other foot for the best balance and propulsion. Remember, the specifics of your stance can influence your overall control and the precision of the shot.

Mastering the Shooting Form

A basketball suspended in mid-air, held by two fingers underneath, with the shooter's wrist and elbow aligned, ready to release the ball

Hand Placement and Ball Control

Your shooting hand is the powerhouse of your shot. Position your fingers so they spread comfortably across the ball, allowing the pads and fingertips to maintain contact for optimal control. The guide hand is your shot’s sidekick, resting on the side of the ball to steady it; ensure it does not affect the ball’s trajectory or spin. Create a small pocket of space between the ball and your palm to improve the ball’s release of your fingertips.

Shooting Stance

Align your feet shoulder-width apart, with your shooting foot slightly ahead of the guide foot, pointing towards the basket. Your hips and shoulders should be squared to the hoop, creating a strong and balanced foundation for your shooting form. The knees should be slightly bent, preparing your body for a fluid upward motion during the shot.

The Shooting Technique

The power of your shot comes from your legs, transferring up through your body. As you begin to shoot, focus on a fluid motion, moving the ball upward with your elbow directly under the ball and your wrist relaxed. As you reach the peak of your shooting motion, flick your wrist to impart a backspin, ensuring a soft, consistent follow-through and keeping your elbow in line with your body to maintain accuracy. Your guide hand should remain still, offering stability until the ball has been released.

The Art of the Release

A basketball held with fingertips, palm facing the hoop. Elbow bent, eyes on target

Finger Flick and Backspin

To create the necessary backspin on the basketball, focus on your shooting hand’s fingerprint area. Just as when you finalize your flick, this is the last part of your hand to make contact with the ball. The middle and index fingers are crucial in directing the ball, so concentrate on them for optimal control.

Release Point

Your release point comes down to a comfortable and consistent position that you can reproduce shot after shot. It’s right above your forehead, slightly in front of it, where the control transitions from your entire hand to being predominantly guided by your fingertips and wrist.

Follow-Through and Arc

The beauty of a successful shot lies in a fluid follow-through and the creation of a graceful arc. Your follow-through should see your wrist relaxed and fingers pointing towards the basket, mirroring a gooseneck. The optimal arc is about 45 degrees, give or take, which provides the ball with the best chance of going in.

Perfecting Your Footwork

When shooting a basketball, proper footwork is just as crucial as your hand placement and shooting technique. It’s your foundation, affecting your balance, power, and the precision of your shot.

Positioning Your Feet

Your stance should start with your feet shoulder-width apart, providing stable balance and readiness to move. Ensure the shooting foot is slightly ahead of the non-shooting foot, pointing towards the hoop. This subtle adjustment aligns your body for better accuracy, preparing you for a powerful shot.

Using Your Legs

Your legs act as the spring for your shot. Bend your knees slightly to ready your muscles for the jump. Keep this bend consistent with each shot to maintain your muscle memory and balance. Remember, the power of your shot comes from this bend, propelling you upward.

Jumping Technique

As you propel yourself into the jump, push off with the balls of your feet for a strong lift, ensuring both feet leave the ground simultaneously. Aim for a smooth, straight upward motion. Upon landing, it’s essential to come down on the balls of your feet with your knees slightly bent to absorb the impact. This helps avoid injury and positions you well for rebounding or defense.

Practical Shooting Drills

Improving your shooting skills requires consistent practice and a focus on developing muscle memory. Through repetitive drills and situational exercises, you’ll establish a shooting routine that translates into actual games.

Repetitive Practice

Start your training with simple, repetitive shooting drills. These drills are designed to enhance your consistency with every shot. Dedicate time each day to perform these drills:

  • The One-Hand Balance Drill: Work on your ball control by balancing the basketball on your shooting hand. Aim for at least 30 seconds of balance time without assistance from your guide hand.
  • Free Throws: Shoot 50 to 100 free throws. Focus on your form with each repetition to build muscle memory.

Form Shooting Drills

It’s crucial to develop a strong shooting form. Here are some form shooting drills to help you:

  • BEEF Method: Break down your shot using the BEEF method—Balance, Eyes, Elbow, Follow-through. Practice close to the hoop and gradually increase your distance.
  • One-Hand Form Shooting: Closer to the basket, use only your shooting hand to ensure pure form. Ensure your fingertips control the ball and your delivery is fluid.

Game Situation Drills

Now, incorporate your skills into game situation drills:

  • Catch and Shoot: Mimic receives a pass, squares up to the basket, and shoots. Repeat to get used to the motion and quick release.
  • On-the-Move Shooting: Practice shooting from various positions around the court. Move as you would in a game, coming off screens or dribbling before you shoot.

Strategies for Game Time

In game time, your shooting efficiency hinges on well-practiced habits, smart adjustments to defense, and intense mental focus. Let’s break down each component to ensure your shots count when it matters most.

Developing Good Habits

Developing good habits is crucial; consistency leads to reliable performance. Always align your feet and square your body to the basket to optimize your aiming. With each practice, focus on perfecting your grip and form to engrain these mechanics into your muscle memory.

Adjusting for Defense

When you’re up against defense, your ability to adapt is tested. Keep your eyes on the hoop, and be aware of defenders’ positions to anticipate blocks and steals. Incorporate triple threat tactics—dribbling, passing, and shooting—to keep defenders guessing and to find that open shot.

Mental Focus

Your effort and progress in practice should translate into confidence during games. Mental focus is about keeping your eyes locked on your shooting eye target and blocking out distractions. Remember, shooting is as much a mental skill as a physical one. Stay composed, visualize success, and execute the shot as practiced.


How should you grip a basketball when shooting?

Grip the basketball with your shooting hand using your fingertips, placing them evenly spread across the ball. Keep your wrist relaxed but stable, and ensure your thumb is placed comfortably on the side of the ball for support.

How do you hold the ball when shooting in basketball?

Hold the basketball with your shooting hand positioned underneath the ball, fingers spread apart, and your non-shooting hand on the side of the ball for balance and guidance. Ensure your shooting hand is aligned with the basket and your shooting arm forms an “L” shape.

How do you control a basketball shot?

Focus on your shooting form, using proper technique and mechanics. Keep your eyes on the target (the rim) and maintain a consistent follow-through after releasing the ball. Practice regularly to develop muscle memory and improve shot accuracy and control.

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Leave me a comment and make sure to also check out NBA Shot Chart.

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Fabian Kühar
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