A Step by Step Guide for Beginners: How to Shoot a Basketball

Basketball for kids is the most challenging from the coaching standpoint because you have to be very thorough about the drills and very careful about the approach in terms not to make the training boring. The goal of every youth basketball program should be to teach the fundamentals but to be creative in a way that learning is done through fun and interesting basketball games. The job is not easy, and it is not for everyone. If you try to make your training to be just fun all the time, you are likely to miss some important stuff, and if you are all about the drills and hard work, then kids will be likely to dislike the sport. This article will not just answer the question of how to shoot a basketball, it will also tell you the best possible way of working with kids and beginners.

We at Hoopsking like the detail and commitment, and we really like the youth, so we asked the best among us, Coach Chris Hungerford, to tell us what are the secrets behind training young boys and girls. As this article is about the shooting, we asked what are the main things we need to know to be able to develop a good shooting form for our youngest basketball players.

The player who is going to help us is Cale. He is 9 years old, he has played about 40 games in his life and has been to about 40 practices, he really loves basketball and he is willing to learn. A perfect protagonist for our story!

Develop Good Shooting Habits

First that you really need to have in mind is the goal. You are not teaching kids to make shots immediately , rather you are teaching them to have good habits, you are showing them the right mechanics. If the kids shots are goin in or not really does not matter. You are working on their fundamentals and those are going to prepare them for that next step that will ultimately lead to a good shooting form.

If the kid has adapted to a bad shooting form it is most likely that it is going to follow them through out their carriers. Shooting form is something that needs to be worked on all the time. Even the best shooters of today have professional shooting coaches and they work on their shot every day.

How to Develop Proper Shooting Technique

Best time to practice the shooting with your kid is when the two of you are alone. Kids feel pressure from the surroundings because they still haven`t develop that self esteem that comes with age. So no pressure on them, be patient and be persistent. Kids need your support no matter what!

If your kid is playing a lot of basketball, playing AAU and going to practices, its going to be a bit harder, because if he have some bad habits it is harder for him to adopt those new things that you are teaching him. In this case you have two options:

1. Wait until the season is over so you`ll have a couple of months to practice

2. Do a lot more training just to overcome the difference

At the start of the learning process , you will need to do a 5 minute training 3 times a week.  

  • The Start of Proper Shooting Technique

Drill No 1: Holding the ball the correct way

First thing that you need to practice with your kid is holding the ball the correct way. We have two ways how the hands should grip the ball: T type and W type. There really is no deference between the two, just for the fact that the people with smaller hands often use W grip just because it is cowering more surface of the ball.




T - Grip

T grip

W - Grip

W grip

First, drill that you are going to do has the goal to practice holding the ball the right way. You are going to tell your kid to hold the ball like he is going to start a shot motion, but instead he is just going to drop it on the ground.

Right way to hold the ball
Drop the ball

Take a look at the first picture. This is the starting shooting position. Shoulders need to be leveled (purple), the angle needs to be at 90°, and hands on the ball in T or W position. Elbow should be over the knee and not wide. At Hoopsking you can buy the BALL that has drawings of hands on it which can help a lot so you don`t need to worry if the hands are positioned the right way or not.

Do 25-50 repetitions, and every time correct the things that are wrong. Demand commitment that will lead your kid to perfection. We don`t want to take a blind eye on some of the mistakes. That will lead them to having bad habits. Let`s see the video:


Drill No 2: Practicing the Stance on Your Shot

As far as the feet are concerned, they should be parallel and facing the rim, main foot should be slightly in front (right hand shooters have their right foot in front of the left), and feet should be a bit wider then the shoulders. Take a look at the picture.

Feet alignment in the basketball stance

What are you going to do next is that you are going to throw a ball to your kid and he will need to take a good stance with his feet while holding the ball the right way. In the act of catching the ball, let him hop towards the ball and then take a basketball stance. Again, do 25-50 repetitions.

Hop to the ball and get in to the stance


Let`s see the live action:


Drill No.3: Mimic the shot without the ball

For our next drill you wont be needing the ball because you will practice the shot motion without using one. Kids are not strong enough to hold the ball and mimic the shot motion, so we will do it empty handed.

Hand in front of the body
Shooting position of the arm

The motion starts in a stance with the arm in a position as it is holding the ball, elbow is neither too much in nor wide, and the motion ends with the hand above the head. That is the shooting spot. By excluding the ball from the drill, your kid will focus just on the arm motion. This is something that professional players are doing too.

Shooting path of the main arm


This drill is done 25 - 50 times.


Drill No.4: Mirror Shots

For our fourth drill we are going to add the balance hand, so we are mirroring the whole shot form but without the jump or the ball.

Stance without the ball
Off hand mirroring

By excluding all other elements like the ball, the jump, rim, other players, your kid will really be focused just on his hand motion, and the progress will be better and faster.

Drill No.5: The real shot motion with the ball

In this next drill you are including the ball. Every time you start a new training, go trough the drills dat you have done the day before. Repetitions are the key ingredient in getting to know something in basketball. For one motion to be perfected you need to do it 10.000 times, and all that the right way.

For the fifth drill make your follow the rules establish in previous four.

Elbow - Knee alignment

Here is where it is finally showing how much of the progress have been done. The shot form is starting to take shape the same we can see that pro players have.

The restricted area

Ball must not fall on to palm. If it hits this area the ball will not have rotation in it's flight towards the basket.

Primary and secondary shooting zones

Here we have primary and secondary shooting zones on the fingers. Primary zones create main traction for the shot and secondary are just helping.

Drill No.6: Snap the wrist on the Shot

In the sixth drill you are making the whole motion with the simulation of the release. Practice with your kid how to snap the wrist. In the act of shooting, elbow needs to be in the level of the eyebrow, and the wrist does not need to go as much as it can.

Elbow is in the level of the eyebrow
Best angle for the shot

Lets take a look at the video:

Drill No.7: Shoot but not at the Basket

Before we start with the actual shooting drills, we recommend that you use the smaller ball. It will give your kid a better chanse to use all of the previous skills that he learned. Bigger ball's demand bigger hands and more power in the arms.  

For the seventh drill you are going to practice the motion of the shot, but not to aim for the basket. The ball needs to drop in front of your kid. With this drill you are adding the release, and by not shooting at the rim your kid will not be hindered by the fact if the ball is going in or not. Instead, you are going to try to hit a line in front of him. Let him align his shooting foot with the free throw line and let him try and hit it. Lets see the drill:

For the seventh drill you are going to practice the motion of the shot, but not to aim for the basket. The ball needs to drop in front of your kid. With this drill you are adding the release, and by not shooting at the rim your kid will not be hindered by the fact if the ball is going in or not. Instead, you are going to try to hit a line in front of him. Let him align his shooting foot with the free throw line and let him try and hit it. Lets see the drill:


Drill No.8: Shoot Shoot Shoot  

For this drill we are going to use a 8 foot basket. We want to add the real shot but without the lose of the form. First shot that you need to practice is the off the board shot. Lets see the video:

After you have done 50 reps, change the shooting position to the other side and finally shoot a head on shots.

It is important to correct every mistake every time, but all with encouragement.

The real challenge training the kids is all about how to approach them, and how not to overdo the things. Everything that you are doing with the youth needs to be with the sense of like it is a game and all without the pressure. Kids need kind words, support and love.

Notice how Coach Chris is training Kayl. In every his word you can feel love, respect, care, encouragement. This is the path that we as coaches need to take.

For more shooting drills go to Hoopsking and rent a DVD by clicking on the link below:

Jun 01, 2019 Coach Viktor

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