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The Complete Guide to Playing Shooting Guard

Everyone knows the team with the most points at the final buzzer wins the game. And that's where Shooting Guards make the biggest impact on the outcome of games. A Shooting Guard is the position where you can put points on the scoreboard.

The Shooting Guard could be the most famous position in basketball. We have many lethal shooters on the court today like the Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and James Harden to name a few. Along with many legendary shooters who filled the position when they laced up their shoes like two of the GOATs: Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.

What does it take to fill the Shooting Guard spot for your team?

That’s what we are going to cover in this article. By the time you’re done reading, you will know exactly what a Shooting Guard does on the court and what it takes to make this position the most dangerous on the court.

How to Play Shooting Guard

Klay Thompson

What is a Shooting Guard?

A Shooting Guard is one of the five basketball positions on the court. It can also be referred to as the “2” or the “off guard”.

Overall, it’s basically known as a scoring position. It doesn’t focus on height or athleticism because that can vary greatly from one shooting guard to another. Steph Curry is not the same height or athlete as MJ or Kobe, but his ability to shoot the ball makes him the toughest player to shut down on the court.

A strong Shooting Guard needs to be able to shoot the ball. As the name suggests, their main role is shooting the basketball. This player’s #1 job is to knock down shots - from the three-point line to pulling up for a mid-range jump shot or driving all the way to the basket and finishing at the rim.

Ball handling skills are also important for a Shooting Guard. Depending on the team, the Shooting Guard may or may not be the primary ball handler. Regardless, they need to be able to dribble with confidence. In order to be tough to guard as a shooter, you want to use your ball handling skills to create your own shot. If you have strong handles then it makes you that much harder to stop.

If the ball isn’t in a Shooting Guard’s hands then they should be moving to get open. This means they will need to be in exceptional shape to run all over the court trying to shake their defender. They also need to be able to make game-time decisions such as reading the defense to know how they’re being guarded so they can exploit it for a score.

Shooting Guard position in basketball

Kobe

Greatest Shooter of All Time

Steph Curry

How to be the best shooting guard

MJ

9 Tips on How to Be the Best Shooting Guard

      1. Master the Proper Shooting Technique. To be a great Shooting Guard, you have to be a great shooter. The first way to be a great shooter is with your technique. Michael Jordan said it best, “You can practice shooting eight hours a day but if your technique is wrong then all you become is very good at shooting the wrong way. Get the fundamentals down and the level of everything you do will rise.” As a basketball player, you have to know how to shoot a basketball the correct way. You don’t want to become the player who is good at shooting the wrong way. To learn how to shoot the basketball correctly, start at the basics.
      2. Become Big-Time for Long Distance. Once your shooting form is perfect, it’s time to start working on your shot from downtown. You want to be a consistent three-point shooter who can knock down a couple of shots a game. But if you’re goal is to be the best shooting guard then you want to make it a goal to shoot 40 percent or better from the outside. This type of Shooting Guard opens up the floor for their teammates because the defense can’t leave them open.
      3. Move Without the Basketball. To be effective as a Shooting Guard, you must understand how to move without the ball. This means being able to read defenders, having the footwork to execute different cuts, and the knowledge of how to use screens to get yourself open.
      4. Utilize Backdoor Cuts. Now that you’re a consistent threat from the outside teams are going to start denying you the basketball. When you see your defender overplaying the passing lane hit them with a backdoor cut. This will force them to take a step back because you have them on their toes with what you’re going to do. Here’s how to execute a backdoor cut:
      5. Develop a variety of Finishes at the Hoop. When you become a great Shooting Guard then opponents are going to try to take that away which means you have to put the ball on the ground and get to the rim. With that in mind, you need to develop a number of ways to score as you get closer to the rim. You want to keep the defense on their toes and one way to do that is being able to use a reverse lay-up, floater, euro step, and a number of other ways.
      6. Never Miss Free Throw Shooter. Being a strong free throw shooter is another weapon for a Shooting Guard. Your goal should be to make at least 80% or better from the free throw line. If a defense makes the mistake of fouling you then it should be an automatic make from the free throw line.
      7. Sprint Down the Floor. If the Shooting Guard sprints down the floor then it gives them the opportunity to read the defense and look for gaps to either get to the rim, spot up on the perimeter for a three-point shot or set-up a teammate to get open.
      8. Master the Midrange Game. One of the ways defenses will try to stop Shooting Guards is by taking them out of their game. The best way to counter this defensive strategy is for Shooting Guards to be able to knock down shots from the midrange area. If the defense gets you off the three-point line and you’re dribbling to the rim to find help defense waiting for you then make the right read and use a pull-up jumper. If you can shoot from distance, midrange, and get the rim then the defense is going to have a tough time stopping you.
      9. Don’t Hesitate When You’re in a Shooting Slump. You won’t make every single shot you take. Even the greatest shooters in the game of basketball have off nights. But what makes them the greatest is that they never hesitate to still shoot the ball. Great shooters keep shooting because it’s the only way out of a slump.


How Many Points Should a Shooting Guard Average?

Shooting Guards can have all types of scoring averages. Basically, a Shooting Guard is always a threat for dropping serious numbers on you if you leave them open. And that’s what they bring to the court every time the are in the game. They could have a quiet night or they can explode and put up numbers quickly.

Another big way Shooting Guards make a difference doesn’t necessarily translate into points for them but for their teammates. They open the court up so much for everyone else because the defense is going to be so focused on what they’re doing. If the defense is constantly having to figure out where the Shooting Guard is then all of the other offensive players should be able to read the defense to find gaps and create scoring opportunities.

It may not be a point to their name, but their influence creates points for others which in turn puts their team in good position to make plays and win games.

A Shooting Guard's Mentality

As a Shooting Guard, you won’t make every shot you take. In fact, you may find yourself in a shooting slump at times. But the secret is to keep shooting. A shooter’s mentality is knowing that you have to keep shooting the basketball whether you’re making or missing your shots. Shooting slumps happen to even the best shooters, but you have to find ways to get out of them.

Here are some DOs and DON’Ts for overcoming a shooting slump:

    • DO Keep Shooting. Even if you’re missing shots you have to keep shooting the ball. You can’t make shots and get your rhythm back if you’re hesitating to shoot or passing open looks. Stay alert, ready, and fearless to shoot the ball.
    • DON’T Overthink. Sometimes when you miss two or three shots in a row it’s easy to start overthinking what you’re doing wrong. When you’re overthinking your shot then you start focusing too much on the negatives and those negative thoughts can pile up. Stay positive and don’t overthink your shot - you’ve put in the work and your shot will start falling but you have to stay positive with your thoughts.
    • DO Visualize. Visualizing your shot going into the hoop. You see your form, your release, and your follow through - and you hear the swoosh of the net. Just seeing this happening in your head can keep your focus and help you stay locked in to the task at hand.
    • DON’T Lose Confidence. It’s easy to give up and lose confidence after a couple of misses, but you have to remain confident in your ability to put the ball through the hoop. Instead of focusing on the shot you missed, quickly forget about it and be ready and focused for the next shot you’re going to take and make.
    • DO Have Patience. As a shooter you don’t want to force your shot, but stay relaxed and let the shots come to you. If you’re forcing shots you wouldn’t normally take then you aren’t putting yourself in a position to get out of your slump. Stick with your game and take your shots.

If you can apply these DOs and DONTs to your game then you’ll be better prepared for whatever the game throws your way. It’s hard to shake a player with a shooter’s mentality because shooters are going to shoot.

Even the Greatest Shooter of All Time misses shots!

Shooting Guard Position in Basketball

Top 5 Shooting Guards to Watch

If you’d rather learn from NBA players then take a look at some of the best shooters in the league and see what they’re doing in practice and games. What players should you watch? Start with these five shooters who know how to put the ball in the basket.

#1 Steph Curry - Golden State Warriors. This player is the most recognizable shooter in basketball. He range starts when he walks into the gym. He is the type of player the defense gravitates towards at all times whether it’s a two-on-one fast break or he just steps across half court.

#2 Klay Thompson - Golden State Warriors. The other half of the Splash Brothers has given us amazing shooting performances during his career. He once scores 60 points and only took 11 dribbles to make it happen.

Shooting Guard in Basketball

James Harden

How to be a Shooting Guard

JJ Redick

#3 James Harden - Houston Rockets. One of the most fun players to watch in the league. Harden can score from anywhere. He can shoot the three, hit the midrange, and get all the way to the rim.

#4 JJ Redick - Philadelphia 76ers. He became a certified scorer during his college career at Duke University and carried his shooting skills over to the NBA. This is the type of shooter that once he releases the ball you feel like it’s going in every single time.

#5 Luka Doncic - Dallas Mavericks. In just his rookie season, Doncic has already made a name for himself as a scorer. To put it in more perspective of how good this player is, the numbers he put up in his first year were better than LeBron James' rookie season.

These are the shooters you DO NOT leave open. But that’s easier said than done because these guys know how to get their shots whether it’s in transition or off a set play. You can spot them up for an easy bucket, have them coming off a screen, or even using their dribble to get open and find a way to score.

Key Takeaways for Shooting Guards

Becoming a great shooter does not happen in a blink of an eye. It takes time, motivation, and commitment. One of the hardest parts is figuring out where to start or what to focus on. Here are three main areas to use as focal points for a shooting guard.

      • Technique. Great shooters have great technique. They pay attention to every last detail of their shot from how they catch the ball to their follow through after the ball has left their hands. Shooters know exactly what it takes to have perfect form and can feel when they’re making mistakes because they are dialed in to these very small details. If you want to be a shooting guard, correct technique has to be high on your priority list.
      • Repetition. Shooting guards know that it takes repetition to master learning how to shoot a basketball and this makes them relentless about getting shots up. In order for your shot to become automatic - to the point where you know as soon as it leaves your hand whether it’s going in or not - you must commit to the idea of shooting a basketball over and over. Repetition will result in your shot become second nature that you could shoot with perfect technique in your sleep, with your eyes closed, or the opposite hand.
      • Study. All players in the shooting guard position can have great technique and get in the gym to shoot all day everyday, but what separates good players from great players is the ability to learn or be a student of the game. You have to put yourself in situations that you’re continually learning new things whether it’s tips on how to get open for a shot or a new drill to use when you’re in the gym. Basketball players, especially shooters should never stop learning.

Shooting Guard Drills

Drill #1: 2 Up 2 Back


Drill #2: 25 Three-Pointers in 2 Minutes


Recommended Videos for Shooting Guards

Check out these training videos to help make you a better Shooting Guard...

Shooting Guard Roles and Responsibilities
Guard Workouts for Basketball
Advanced Guard Training

Recommended Training Equipment for Shooting Guards

Sometimes you need a little extra help when it comes to improving your game. You might be having trouble with your elbow popping out when you’re working on your form or you’re wasting energy by chasing your basketball after every missed shot. We have a THREE products to share with you that can quickly help make a difference in your game.

      • iC3 Rebounder. The #1 training tool for any basketball player! Instead of chasing your ball after every shot save your energy by purchasing an iC3 Rebounder. You’ll be able to get up twice as many shots in the same amount of time which should result in an increase in your shooting percentage.
      • Bulls Eye. If you need to stop incorrect arm movement with your shot then the Bulls Eye is what you need. It helps you use less shoulder and more wrist for your shooting form. After using it a couple of times, you won’t push the ball as much and that will help you shoot the basketball perfectly.
      • Wrap Strap. To shoot the basketball perfectly, you need a true one-handed shot and the Wrap Strap makes that possible. This shooting aid will force you to shoot with a proper one-arm shot with perfect rotation. As a shooter, you can’t ask for anything better.

All three of these products will quickly have an impact on your shot - and for the better! You can’t go wrong with investing in any of these recommendations and your improved game will thank you by scoring more buckets.

Learn More

This Complete Guide to Play Shooting Guard should cover everything you need to know about this position, but there's always room to grow. To learn more start browsing through our vast selection of DVDs right now.

Our basketball training videos feature the best of the best. From the top coaches in high school, college, & the Pros to the best basketball trainers who teach Pro players we have them all. We have DVDs for rent by mail, downloads available for purchase, and 48 hour rental.

You can watch them over and over, take notes, and then rent another DVD over the same topic and very quickly your knowledge of a specific topic will reach mastery level. Using basketball training videos as a coach can change your entire coaching style.

Jun 07, 2019 Coach Chris

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