Shooting gets more complicated every year; not the actual shooting, but the over-analysis and information saturating the marketplace. Through training hundreds of players and listening to their preconceptions, I formulated my five biggest fake fundamentals of shooting a basketball.
Bend your knees. Shooters start in an athletic position; however, any time a shooter misses short, the coach screams “bend your knees.” More often than not, the degree of knee bend is not the problem. Many times, the problem is the manner in which the athlete bends or the explosiveness of the ankle, knee and hip extension. I trained a player who bent his knees more and more as his coach told him. He did not bend correctly, and every time he bent further down, he was more and more off-balance. Shooters do not need to bend their knees until their thigh is parallel to the ground; instead, they need to bend back and down, creating better balance, and then explode up as part of their shot. It is the balance and rapid extension many players lack, not the knee bend.
Finish with your “hand in the cookie jar.” When I was young, coaches taught me to finish my shot with my “hand in the cookie jar.” This is unnecessary; when players visualize the “hand in the cookie jar,” they close their hand with fingers together, as though grabbing a cookie. Instead, players should keep their hand open and relaxed through the whole shot, which imparts more force on the ball and keeps the ball directed at the target better. Rather than put your “hand in the cookie jar,” shoot “out of a telephone booth,” so the motion goes up and then out.
Let the ball roll off the fingers. When the ball “rolls off the fingers,” it exits the hand weakly. Instead, shoot your hand all the way through the ball. When the ball leaves the hand, the hand should push up and through the ball.
Shoot at the top of the jump. When players shoot at the top of their jump, they waste the energy created by the jump. Rather than imparting the energy and force into the shot, they shoot with the upper body and push the ball. A shot taken at the top of the jump is like stepping onto a step and shooting without bending your legs or jumping. Shooting at the top of the jump simply means shooting from a higher release point; it also means shooting entirely with the upper body. When close to the basket, this is advantageous, as the height of the release is more important than the force. However, when shooting an outside jump shot, the power is more important than the height of the release; shoot “early in the jump” or “on the way up” to maximize the force generated.
Put your middle finger in the center of the ball. It seems logical to put your middle finger in the middle of the ball, but centering your index finger helps with the alignment of the ball, hand and elbow. The proper alignment increases the ease of shooting straight through the ball as opposed to shooting with some unnecessary movement.