A Guide to Knocking Down Shots from Inside the 3 Point Line

 Nick Novak — Ovarense/FC Porto LPB Playoffs 2016
 Nick Novak — Ovarense/FC Porto LPB Playoffs 2016

“Stop and Pop”. Pretty simple idea. It can be the answer to a lot of your problems when attacking on offense. Especially as a guard. Maybe you encounter some problems when you get near the rim in between all the tall trees. “Stop and Pop”. Maybe you’re not the most comfortable or accurate shooting from long distance. “Stop and Pop”. If you have a good first step but a little trouble beating your defender cleanly off the dribble. “Stop and Pop”. Don’t like shooting flat footed? More comfortable off the dribble? You got it. “Stop and Pop”. Okay, got the point by now? Good. Remember this for later…

 Nick Novak — Ovarense/Barcelos Taca de Portugal 2016
 Nick Novak — Ovarense/Barcelos Taca de Portugal 2016

I’ve made a living off of this shot. Literally. I have confirmation I get paid to make this shot. This shot can really set you apart. It’s lost art and is not in a lot of people’s games. I’ve had European coaches tell me they don’t see it a lot in scouting, it fits into their offenses really well, and is invaluable for them at the end of the shot clock. Sure, maybe it is a little more difficult. Is it more valuable to step back a few feet for a 3? Or get the whole way to the rim? Maybe. Maybe it can’t be found open at the time, and in basketball you obviously want to take the best shot, but as far as looking for a shot that is difficult to defend and can be generated in many situations, a mid-range pull up can be really, really effective and completely throw the defense off.

I first started working on the mid-range pull-up in high school, maybe freshman year. I was pretty small, especially compared to juniors and seniors, but an expert at beating people off the dribble, and a wiz in the open court. Problem: Doesn’t matter if you’re a good athlete when you’re 5'8" and 150 lbs. soaking wet when you get near the rim against guys that are even 6–6", 6–7". Good news, I’m pretty crafty, and my dad has a pretty good basketball mind. Solution: “Why not stop and shoot a little 12–15 foot pull up instead of getting the whole way to the rim and having to adjust your shot?” Thanks Dad, now just time to put the work in. After awhile, it became second nature, and to this day, my crutch when things get a little hairy.

The mid-range jumper definitely takes a lot of work and the right mindset. But having this shot in your arsenal can make you a lot more versatile, it’s an easy way to get yourself shots, and it’s a lot more efficient than you may think…

Step 1: Have it on your mind…

Pop Quiz: “What’s our new favorite catch phrase?” “Stop and Pop” The biggest key is looking to do it, so that eventually it becomes instinct. The more you work on it, and incorporate it into your game, you’ll start to see when it really works and when it doesn’t. Learn to read your defender and know when you have an advantage to beat him to the basket, and when you have him on the run and you can stop on a dime and pull up.

 Defender is stopped in his tracks while you’re elevating for an open shot
Defender is stopped in his tracks while you’re elevating for an open shot


The biggest key to creating this space and doing it quickly for this SHOT is with your FEET. Pulling up out of a jump stop just won’t cut it anymore. You need to work on your “1–2 Step”, your L/R step, and your R/L step.

Here's How:
Stand at the top of the key, toss the ball to yourself, and as fast as you can take one hard dribble to the elbow. If you’re going the left side, pound the ball (really pound this dribble as hard as you can, it helps you stop), cross step and plant your right foot followed by your left into a comfortable shooting position for you and hold your shooting form. Do the same going to the right elbow, vice versa: one hard dribble to the right elbow, plant the left foot followed by the right. Do this full speed and really work on stopping yourself quickly, this translates to while you’re going off the dribble in either direction and being able to pull up while the defender is recovering. After awhile incorporate the actual shot. Elevate as high as you can off your 1–2 Step and release at the top.

Step 3: Make it a Habit

You’ll get a feel for it. The same as the rest of your game. Obviously if you beat your defender badly enough and have a clear path you take what is given to you. If you see trouble ahead but have your defender on his heels, it’s hard for him to contest your shot. The more you work on it and the more success you have, the more natural it will become.

Take a minute and watch some highlights and focus on my pull ups, mainly my FOOTWORK leading up to it:

GREAT NBA guy to draw from: WESTBROOK

If you’re looking for more guidance on specific drills to improve any aspect of your game, including your Mid-Range Jump Shot, try out the Hustle app — it’s free!