Shooting Drills to Stay Sharp this Summer

Mastering the art of the jump shot takes time and repetition. For true students of the game, the summer months may be the offseason, but they are where the real work gets done. The difference between a talented player and a great player is often hard work.

When you hit the court or the driveway this summer, here are some useful drills to keep your shooting sharp for next basketball season.

One Hand Basketball Shooting Drills

Pure shooters understand that most of the action in a basketball shot comes from a single hand. To emphasize this strength and to train your muscle-memory connection, youth basketball players have long used one hand shooting drills to improve their shot.

This drill is relatively simple: shoot the ball with one hand. The intricacies come from focusing on form to learn and reinforce good shooting habits. For youth players, this drill might be most appropriate with an undersized ball. A regulation basketball may be too large and/or too heavy for some young athletes.

Players should focus on maintaining proper balance, making an “L” with the elbow, following through towards the basket, using a stable base, and controlling the ball throughout the movement.

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Basketball Catch and Shoot Drills

Basketball is not played in a vacuum. The greatest practice shooter in the world may go 2 for 20 in the game. Why is that? Other than the fact that the defense might be in your face, it is because shooting is an extension of other basketball movements, and is never done completely alone. In today’s game, shooters generally shoot threes as a step back or from a pass.

Shooting from a pass, otherwise known as “catch and shoot” is an essential skill to learn for mid range and long range play.

There are several ways to run this drill:

  • Have the shooter shuffle along the three point line, waiting to receive the pass before shooting.

  • Have players standing with one foot back before receiving the pass. As the pass comes, the shooter will bring back the rear foot and execute a jump shot.

  • Back and forth drill. With as few as two players, young athletes can practice catching and shooting simply by playing with the rule “as soon as you touch the ball, you must shoot”. In other words, a shootaround where dribbling is not allowed.

Solo Shooting Drills for Offseason Basketball Training

If youth athletes find themselves practicing their shot alone this summer, here are some simple and effective shooting drills that can be performed solo:

Make ten (10) shots in a row from anywhere. This is as simple as it sounds. As long as the player is remembering to use good form, this takes solid jump shot repetition and turns it into a mini-game.

Around the world. The classic kids game is actually a decent all around shooting drill. Beginning with a layup, then the shooter will navigate “around the world” to all of the key locations on the court, shooting from each spot. Two misses in a row, and it’s back to square one!

Free throws for breakfast. A free throw is the purest shot in basketball. No defensive pressure - no distractions. Youth athletes can benefit from free throw practice not only by improving their numbers from the charity stripe, but also in drilling good fundamentals from a mid range position.

200 shots per day. Professional basketball players frequently take between 300-500 shots per day in the offseason. Yikes! For youth athletes, it has been recommended that shooters attempt (not make) at least 200 shots per day to stay in the groove.

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Off the Dribble Jump Shot Practice

We have touched on catch and shoot drills, but what about that James Harden stepback? Shooting off the dribble is equally important for young basketball players to learn. The keys during this drill are to transfer the ball smoothly from the dribble to the shot, to maintain balance, and to work on solid footwork. Drills can be performed in a number of different ways, including:

  • Take a step, take a dribble, take a shot - players start in a triple threat stance, take one or two steps with a single dribble, and shoot the ball. This is a simple way to incorporate movement and ball handling into shooting practice.

  • Simon says shoot - this can be done as a team or with as few as two players. One individual will be “Simon” and dictate the action. “Simon” will tell shooters when to dribble and when to shoot. This teaches youth basketball players to always be ready to take a shot.

  • Taking it to the basket - Shooting is generally held as the art of the mid to long range jump shot. But any time you are putting the ball through the net, you are shooting! Players of all ages need to learn to take the ball to the basket and finish off the dribble.

Improve your Jump Shot with Hustle Training

Pittsburgh startup Hustle Training is quickly rising to one of the most popular sports drill apps out there. Their website, along with their mobile app puts players and coaches at the top of their game by providing skilled workouts and drills crafted by coaches, trainers, and professional athletes, and informative articles to take your team to the next level.

Felipe Leon