How to Shoot, Dribble, and Play Basketball the Right Way

Turn on your television and watch a basketball game for a few minutes. In that short amount of time, you will see a wide range of playing styles, techniques, and strategies on how to shoot a basketball. Want to focus on one single player and attempt to emulate their style? Even in that scenario, you may find yourself trying to keep up with the changes they make throughout the length of a season or even a single game.

There’s no single right way to play basketball. However, there is a basic set of tips that you can begin using in your own practice sessions to help you begin to master the game.

How to Shoot a Basketball:

A Beginner's Guide

Since you can’t win a game without scoring points, knowing how to shoot a basketball is pretty important.

When taking a shot you need good form. Start with your feet shoulder-width apart. A slight bend in the knees is allowable to help give yourself some momentum and guide the ball to the basket. One hand will hold most of the weight of the ball while your other hand is placed on the side for stability. Your shooting hand is the one holding the ball. When lining up your shot, align your elbow directly below your wrist.

Square Up The Basket

Before you take your shot, try to square up with the basket. Your feet, hips, and shoulders should all be facing your target to help you line up your shot more easily. Finally, once you have your form set, release the ball. A lot of people talk about dipping their hand into the cookie jar. As you release the ball, you want your fingers to follow through the shot like you are sliding them into the top of a cookie jar.

Reading all of that may sound complicated. In reality, setting up for a shot is a very quick process and the movements will become natural as you put in more practice time.

The Layup

Layups often make for some of the best basketball highlight reels. This is the perfect shot when you are driving toward the basket and you simply want to bank the ball off the backboard and into the hoop. If you miss, there is a good chance that a defender may take a foul and give you the opportunity to earn points with free throws. A layup may look complicated as you watch the day’s highlights on television but the process is actually very simple. One mantra to keep in mind is, “outside, inside, up.”

Footwork

This describes the footwork as you drive the basket and into the air for your layup. “Outside” refers to your first step. If you are attacking the net from the right, then your outside foot is your right foot. “Inside” describes your second step using, of course, your inside foot. The “up” portion of the movement is when you use your outside leg to drive your body into the air and bank the ball off the backboard.

As you take off, use your inside hand to hold and release the ball while your outside hand protects the ball from being blocked or knocked away by defenders. At first, you may find yourself having trouble with the movements. It sometimes helps to say, “outside, inside, up” out loud while you practice your footwork. As you become more experienced, the movements will come naturally without a second thought.

Moving the Ball: Dribbling Basics

Before you can take your shot, you need to advance the ball from your end of the court to the opposite end. Passing with your teammates is one way to advance the ball but, at some point, you will have to dribble the ball. Dribbling is the act of bouncing the ball off the floor repeatedly with your hand. Sounds simple, right? Not so fast. There are a lot of rules concerning dribbling that you must keep in mind. First, you can only dribble with one hand at a time. You are allowed to alternate between hands, often known as a “v dribble.” However, dribbling with both hands at once will result in a turnover to the other team.

Push The Ball

When dribbling, you must “push” the ball straight back down. Use your hand on the top of the ball and push down to bounce the ball off the floor. You cannot hold the ball and then start dribbling after you were previously dribbling. Again, this will result in a turnover to the other team. If you stop dribbling, you must either shoot or pass to a teammate.

Also, you cannot move without dribbling. The only case where this does not apply is when driving the net for a layup. In that case, you can take three steps without dribbling as long as you release the ball for a shot.

Practice Makes Perfect

All of that probably seems a little bit complicated. Now you know how to shoot a basketball and some dribbling basics. Get out there and practice your new skills so they come naturally next time you hit the court. 

Featured Image via Pixabay

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