Basketball Shooting Form

Shooting Form

As basketball personal trainers, the most common thing we see are players that want to work on their shot. Rarely does someone come to us and say, you know, I really want to work on my defense. A shot can be a mysterious thing. What feels great one day feels terrible the next. Consistency comes with practice and solid shooting form. Shooting form is also one of the most poorly coached things in basketball. While you can be creative with form and become consistent through practice, keeping it simple is the best way to go. Here is what we teach our players.

Feet to follow through step by step guide.

1. Square Up

Your feet should be squared at the hoop and a comfortable distance apart from each, usually shoulder width.

Squared up means both feet pointing towards the basket and shoulders aligned with the feet. Kobe in this picture could be squared even more but it’s pretty good. Kobe probably feels more comfortable with his left foot behind his right which is fine as long as you can keep everything pointed at the hoop.

Tip- You can use the baseline three (like the picture) or the free throw or other line to see if your feet are square.

2. Sit Down

In the picture above Kobe is beginning this process. When you sit down your knees should be bending directly over your feet. Not to the side, not both knees pointing in, they need to be directly over your feet.

In sitting down you need to be on balance to be able to explode directly up and equally with both feet. Your tailbone should be sitting back towards your heals with your chest up. Make sure you do not twist or turn in sitting down. SIT STRAIGHT DOWN.

Tip- Use a barbell to work on squatting and staying on balance. It’s the same as sitting down in your shot.

3. Ball in Your Pocket

Ball in your pocket means to put your hand under the ball with your elbow in and up with close to a 90 degree angle. This in our opinion is the most important aspect to your shot and where most problems occur.

Your offhand needs to be on the side of the ball and used only as a guide hand ONLY. As your release your shot your offhand should not push or be in the way of your shot in anyway. Watch out for offhand thumb, it loves to push off giving side spin.

Tip- Practice shooting with one hand so you get use to not relying on your offhand.

Your shooting hand needs to be under the ball, in the middle of the ball and on your fingertips. Your fingers should be a comfortable distance apart.

Your elbow needs to align with your knee which is aligned with your feet which are pointed at the hoop. Remember that from shoulder to your elbow to your hand should be close to 90 degrees like the picture above.

4. Release

From your pocket everything should go straight up keeping your form nice and tight. Again make sure your offhand is flat and not pushing off, Michael Jordan gives a perfect example above. We don’t want side spin. Do your best to stay square and not turn through the whole process. Don’t become stiff like a robot but still maintain your form.

Hold your follow through. We’ve all heard that before but what does that mean? It means from your pocket the release needs to have a result like Ray Allen or Michael Jordan above. Elbow is fully extended and you have a nice smooth flip of the wrist with the ball touching your finger tips last. You’re essentially pointing your hand at the hoop or putting your hand in the hoop.

Make sure you extend your follow through UP NOT OUT. This puts arc on the ball which gives it the best opportunity to go in. Put the ball in the air.

It’s a matter of physics that by shooting the ball with arc you have a higher percentage for the ball to go through. A flat shot can miss 50% of the hoop and shooting is hard enough as is. You do not need to give yourself this disadvantage.

So now you have feet pointed at the hoop, knees over your feet, elbow over your knee and releasing and holding your follow through all at a straight line at the hoop. Simple. Michael Jordan’s release above is a great example of following straight through.

5. Confidence

The most important aspect of shooting after you have practiced good form is shooting with confidence. If you don’t believe the ball will go in, it won’t. Every time you shoot the ball know it is going to go in, expect it to go in and you’ll find yourself making more shots.

Practice allows confidence to grow so get in the gym as much as possible. Get a rebounder use the shooting gun or grab a parent and head to the gym. It’s no secret that practice makes perfect and is the catalyst to success. Put your heart into it, it’s addicting and your confidence will grow by leaps and bounds.


  • The most common error in form is crooked feet not squared to the hoop, not putting the ball in a pocket thus shooting from your belly and pushing off with your off  hand. Players constantly make these mistakes.
  • Look at the back of the rim when shooting. It gives the ball the best chance to go in. Looking at the front may leave the ball short giving the ball less of a chance than if the ball was long.
  • When you struggle get back to basics and practice. Start in close and work your way out. Think about keeping everything tight.
  • Video tape your shot. It’s hard to tell what you’re doing if you can’t see it yourself. Video tape it and find the mistakes your making for yourself.
  • If you change your form it may not work right away. You have to develop muscle memory which can only be done through practice. Trust that your fixes will improve your shot and don’t go back to your old ways, you’ll want to.
  • Get a basketball trainer who knows their stuff. They will see things you can’t and help you progress as a player.


Keep hooping,


Josh Wilson

Founder & Head Trainer, Roots Basketball

CEO, Roots Sports Academy


The Right Stuff.

How to develop the x-factor that every coach is looking for.

Every coach is looking for that special player out there that has something that sets them apart from the rest. Skills are important but it is by no means the end all when it comes to playing time or being picked for a team. In fact there are many skilled players out there in all sports that never make anything of themselves because they don’t have that x-factor to propel them to greatness. You can take anything I say with a grain of salt but I have been in the battles, I have gone through the ringer with coaches and I am now a coach myself. In my opinion this is what it takes to get that separation from the rest of your team and develop the right stuff.

Work hard. First and foremost you have to have work ethic and pride. This is no surprise I know, but how on earth do you acquire it? Some are born with this innate desire to be great but how is it learned? I have been known throughout my whole life to be a hard worker but I find myself everyday still fighting this battle. Fight being lazy in all aspects of your life. Do not let yourself do the easy thing because more often than not that is not what is good for you. Break each practice, each drill, each training session down and after each one ask yourself, did I work as hard as I can? If not don’t stress it, just come back the next time and give it everything you have. It’s hard to confront it and do your best but it will without a doubt pay off. The great thing about sports is working hard is fun because you very quickly reap rewards from it. Shooting shot after shot leading up to game gives you an immediate impact on the game because the ball feels great in your hands.

Study. Become a master at what you do best and work on your weaknesses. As a point guard you should know intricacies of not only your own offenses but all offenses. You should know every position from every play so you know how to teach and lead no matter the situation. This goes for all players and all positions. If you are great at driving to the hoop harness that talent and discover new ways to be more effective. Don’t just watch an NBA game but study it. Why did that team win the game? Who played well and why? College is even better to watch because of the time they have to study leading up to games it becomes almost a chess match. Read, watch and learn all you can on what you do and set yourself apart from the rest.

Lead. Become a leader in your family, team, school or work. Being a leader is twofold. So often we think of a leader as someone barking orders but this is not the case. In fact I think I’d state the case that someone barking negativity is the opposite of a leader and drags down the team. Yes as a leader you need to hold others accountable but only when they are doing things they should not be doing. Celebrate those who are working hard around you and let them know you appreciate their efforts. Lead with positive encouragement and stern criticism when teammates get out of line. Secondly, lead by example. No person will follow you if they don’t believe you truly represent what you are saying. Show them you can and will do what you are preaching by hopping in the trenches and working harder than anyone else.

Balance. Life is all about balance. Name anything in the world and I bet you for it to be successful balance needs to be in place. For all the effort you put into something you need the rest. You can’t dribble only to the right, then you have no left. You spend too much time with your friends and you neglect your family. Everything in life is about having the right balance and this comes with being a player as well. Maintain a mental and physical balance in your life and in sports.

Having the right stuff isn’t about how good you are, it’s the total package as a person and athlete. Everything stems out of hard work and doing the right thing. If you can always do the right thing and give it all you have you will end up on top. You will, several times, be knocked down but that is when you build your character. Get up and move forward.

Keep hooping,

Josh Wilson
Founder & Head Trainer, Roots Basketball
CEO, Roots Sports Academy

Watch Out for Hungarian Deer.

Just imagine you in this scenario with me;

I was driving down the road on a cold fall night and have my whole family with me. My 4 year old daughter, 9 month old son, wife and a teammate who I was giving a ride home. The sun just went down and I just exited the freeway heading down a country road in the middle of nowhere. Everything is quiet and my family is in the back asleep or dazing off. I stare off into the reach of my headlights as the lines pass one by one. Cruising along at exactly the speed limit, 110 km (68.35 mph), when out of nowhere this runs into the middle of the road;

One one-thousand, two one-thousand… BAM! The deer hit the front rolls up the hood and smashes straight into the windshield with a sudden burst of cold air. Broken glass, crunching medal and tire screeching are the only sounds I hear as I slowly open my eyes and see a deer the size of a horse flying off the car and onto the side of the road. It twitches for a few seconds and dies.

The result;

Looking down I see blood pouring onto my pants and then the thought comes… my family. Looking in the back seat I see if everyone is ok. Two kids are screaming but my wife assures me everyone is fine. With blood on my shirt and pants I had no idea if it was my blood, the deer’s blood, or someone else’s. Lucky for me it was mine, so I went into Rambo mode and took my shirt off and tied it around my head. Trying to assess the situation I could not figure out what the taste in my mouth was. As I’m spitting I realized it was deer hair.

I go around to the back to get my kids out of the car and glass was everywhere. My son is screaming with glass all over his hair and clothes, same for my daughter. As I am getting my son out of his car seat a notice a huge pile of deer feces, yes shit, right next to his car seat. It just missed him. Everyone gets out of the car and we do our best to dust off the glass.

Luckily two things happened. I had a brief instant of clarity and flashed back to my driver’s safety course… just hit it, don’t swerve. If I would have pulled the wheel we would have rolled into a deep ditch on either side. Second, there were cars that stopped and helped us out. They called an ambulance, directed traffic and even gave my daughter some candy. Needless to say we were all pretty shook up and tried collecting our things scattered everywhere when the ambulance arrived.

We took the ambulance to the hospital in Kaposvar. On the way we again noticed the glass all over us. My daughter had it in her underwear, I had it in my ears and my teammate Soma had it in his eyes. It was absolutely everywhere and we found it in apartment all over for the next few months. The worst part, for my wife, was after picking off the glass we begin to notice something else in our hair and on our clothes. Deer Ticks. They were all over us.

Now needless to say it was a traumatizing experience. Luckily we walked away from it because we could have very easily died. I had a big cut on my forehead from… the deer hitting my head? The glass hitting my head? The GPS flying? No idea but besides a few cuts on my wife and I, we were all safe. So phew right? We’re all safe, we can put that behind us.

Well not quite. I continued playing and our team was doing well. Moved up to as high as 6th in the standings and I managed to score a season high 31 points at Szolnok a few days after the accident. A few months passed then in January I get a letter in the mail. The police found me liable for the deer/accident even though I was going exactly the speed limit. Because they found me liable they are going to take my license away for three months. Not only that but I am responsible for paying for the deer that I just killed with my car ($150- $5,000).  That’s right pay for the deer. To top it all off the insurance company would not cover the costs of the car because there was a deer warning sign next 7 kilometers on the road. So because my contract stated that if I’m found negligent in an accident I would be liable for the damage I now owe the club a substantial amount of money. Awesome.

Now if this happened in your home town this would be a pretty big deal. But compounded on the facts of the accident, we were in a foreign country where the Police on the scene didn’t speak English, the paramedics that arrived didn’t speak English and I have NO clue what any letter that comes in the mail says when it’s in Hungarian. Thankfully my teammate Soma was there to not only make sure my wife was in the back seat safely (thanks Soma) but to speak to everyone at the scene. The crazy thing is we randomly ran into Soma at the mall in Budapest and I asked him if he wanted a ride home rather than taking the train (we lived 2 hours from Budapest and there are several major malls in the area). It was fate that Soma was there but I’m guessing he wished he would have taken the train.

So this incident has left me fearing every brown bush on the side or the road, cringing any time I see a car wreck on TV and I’m pretty much terrified of deer (don’t be surprised if I become an avid deer hunter… with something besides a car).  And I am not kidding you this deer was at least 12 points and was taller than the car. Look at the minimal damage to the front end in that picture compared to the top of the car. IT WAS HUGE! So here in Helsinki I don’t drive a car…. I take the tram.

Watch out for deer in Hungary!

If you want to know more about me visit my website, check out my highlights on YouTube, or check out my basketball academy at

Season update; Finished the last game with 29 points on 7/7 from 2 3/6 from 3 and 6/8 from the line. By far the best game of the year for me personally. We also won which is big because it’s the team we’ll most likely play in the playoffs. Highlights of the game-

Perks of the Job

As cliché as it may sound, words could never explain my unwavering appreciation for what basketball has done for me. Whatever effort and devotion I have poured into this sport I have been paid back tenfold. A ball and hoop have molded me into the person I am. My hoops journey has educated me on how to deal with heartbreak and that hard work is the key to success. On this road I have seen unbelievable examples of how not to act as a coach, a leader, a manager or even as a person. These experiences may have been harsh to undergo but it has molded me into a better father, husband, person and player. Basketball has paid for my college education and to top it off I have been allowed in my short life to see the world. What more can I say?

To gain some perspective here is a list of the places I have been thanks to basketball;












North Dakota










New Jersey

New York




Czech Republic









I am 24 years old and feel blessed beyond belief to have seen and experienced such wonderful places (and not so wonderful). At Northern Arizona I was a history major and minored in anthropology so needless to say I enjoy this aspect of my job. Some of my favorite cities are Prague, Vienna, Ljubljana, Venice, Budapest, Berlin, Jerusalem and my current city of Helsinki. Each has different pace and style but in their own ways are equally impressive. Jerusalem and Venice are absolute must sees for an old world feel. Both cities are locked in time and I hope they stay there.

Here are a few thoughts on traveling. It’s interesting to me how much you can tell about the government of a country just from staying a couple days, even more so when you’ve stayed for a few months. I loved the opportunity to see the well oiled machine of Germany, which I believe is a stellar example to the rest of the world (Finland is right behind). Israel seems stuck in a battle of rising to the highest of world standards but are held back from its obvious history and circumstances of their existence. No matter what you have heard I highly recommend a trip to Israel. It’s an eye opening experience in many ways. Where I have been in Italy completely lives up to the hype. I had a calzone the size of a football and went swimming in the Mediterranean. If I had to pick a country to live in besides the USA it would be Germany, Finland or Slovenia. Slovenia thoroughly surprised me. Ljubljana was quaint, beautiful and clean.

Most of all what traveling has done is allowed me to step outside my USA box.  You gain a unique perspective on your own life by seeing the lives of others. The people of the world are diverse and equally fascinating. The USA has so many lessons to learn from Europe and the world. The forefront of these for me is Germany’s recycling policies, Finland’s education system and the absolute necessity of health care reform. I was surprised the way the rest of the world views Americans. As an expatriate or even an average American you have the absolute responsibility to be an ambassador to our country, behave accordingly. Lastly on this subject please tv-land stop polluting the world with the garbage you allow out into the world. Others form opinions of America off of shows like Laguna Beach, scary thought (sorry for the rant).

I hope everyone out here hooping overseas takes advantage of the opportunities to travel. It is a tremendous perk to the occupation. Those who are thinking about coming over I absolutely recommend for at least a year no matter the contract offer. When will you ever have this chance again? And to all the up and comers take advantage of the opportunities the game brings. I promise if you work hard enough and believe in yourself you will be rewarded, in one way or another. Thank you basketball.

Season update; My team (ToPo) has won 3 games in a row. We acquired a new import Justin Hawkins who had a solid debut with 12 points. In the last two games I had 15 points and 3 assists and 13 points and 3 assists on 10/12 from 2 and 2/7 from 3. Still room for improvement and can’t wait to really get things rolling here in Helsinki!

If you want to know more about me you can watch my highlights on YouTube ( or follow me on twitter @jdubball21. Check back in a few days for next the blog. Josh Wilson (188-PG-87, agency: Hightower Law Firm, college: N.Arizona)

Pictures courtesy of the beautiful Dominique Wilson.

From Hungary to Finland

A ton has happened since my last post so I have some catching up to do. A few weeks after my last blog my family and I decided to leave Kaposvar in Hungary and pursue other opportunities for reasons I’ll explain in a later blog. We arrived here in Finland Jan 22nd and are just now getting settled in and comfortable in our new life in Helsinki.

There are very striking differences from Hungary to Finland both in lifestyle, people and the style of basketball. The biggest difference can be noticed immediately after getting off the plane, the weather. This was to be expected but is not as big of a deal as I thought. As long as you layer up and have a good coat it’s not a problem at all. Today was -15 Celsius and my wife and two kids did just fine getting around the city.

Nearly everyone in Finland speaks English. I read in an article that 90% of the people in Helsinki speak English. That is pretty impressive. They have a very good economy, education system and everything seems very modern. To an American Finland is great. The local stores have all of my favorite American food Mt. Dew, Peanut Butter, Doritos and even the impossible to find Ranch. My only complaint is the cost of living. Everything in Helsinki is expensive and that’s not even considering the exchange rate from Euro to Dollar. A small example was a 16 ounce bottle of coke at the gas station was 2.50 Euro. That means it was $3.29 for a coke. Huh? I highly recommend Finland to professional hoopers, atleast from what I’ve seen so far. Of course, I am in Helsinki.

The style of play here is also much different. Everyone asks me what is a better league Hungary or Finland. Generally they are considered the same from the people  I’ve talked to but I think there is a big difference. Hungary has a ton of good big men and is a very physical league. The refs really let things go and the games can easily turn into a slugfest. Finland is the complete opposite. The refs are super touchy so I am having to shed all my bad handing checking habits I’ve developed over the last few years. Finns also play extremely hard and so far seem to be very organized. I may form different opinions by the end of the year but these are my first impressions.

I’m very excited to be here in ToPo. The city is great, the people are very friendly and my team has a ton of potential. I struggled adjusting to the style of the refs and just getting comfortable my first few games but we finally got a much needed win tonight. Also, best of luck to my former teammates in Kaposvar, keep on keeping on. I know this was a very short blog but I was necessary. Very soon I will explain the whole Hungary situation and share some of my thoughts on my favorite perk of this job, seeing the world.

If you want to know more about me you can watch my highlights on YouTube ( or follow me on twitter @jdubball21. Josh Wilson (188-PG-87, agency: Hightower Law Firm, college: N.Arizona)