Basketball Shooting - Three Point Shooting, Rhythm and Range - by Dr. Hal Wissel

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From former NBA coach Hal Wissel (see bio below).

Confidence is the most important factor in shooting. Rhythm is the second most important factor in shooting. Rhythm and range come from a down-and-up motion of your legs. This is vital in developing three-point range. The down-and-up motion of your legs is also particularly important for beginning players learning to shoot at a regulation 10 foot high basket.

To help our rhythm and range we use a down-and-up action of the legs, rather than lowering the ball or stepping into the shot. Start with your knees slightly flexed: Bend your knees and then fully extend them in a down-and-up motion. Saying the key words "Down and up!" (with confidence and rhythm emphasizing the word up) from the start of your shot until the release of the ball will trigger the down and up action of your legs that provides rhythm and force for your shot.

Your legs and shooting arm move together. As your legs go up your arm goes up. As your legs reach full extension, your back, shoulders and shooting arm extend in a smooth, continuous forward and upward direction toward your target. It is important to keep the ball high with your shooting hand facing the rim.

Use the down-and-up motion of your legs for rhythm rather than lowering the ball for rhythm. Keeping the ball high fosters a quick release and also provides less chance for error. Stepping into your shot may help your range, but your shot becomes a two-count shot. Using the down-and-up method allows you to shoot in one motion or one count. When shooting off the catch the down comes just before the catch and the shot goes up as your legs go up providing for a quicker release.

Shooting from a Chair Drill

Shooting from a chair is an excellent drill for developing 3-point shooting and free throw shooting. The chair drill fosters consistency in lift-ing the ball to the basket and extending the elbow completely on the follow-through. This drill develops shooting range and helps a player who has the tendency to throw the ball. Shooting while sitting in a chair requires you to use your back, shoulders, and full arm extension to generate force for the shot.

Set the chair nine feet in front of the basket (two giant steps in front of the free throw line). Sit on the front edge of the chair with your shoulders front, your feet aligned with the legs of the chair and your toes straight. Center yourself both mentally and physically. When you are physically centered, you are in a state of readiness; your muscles relax and you breathe a little deeper and more slowly than usual.

Being physically centered also involves balancing your weight evenly for the skill you will be perform-ing, which is particularly helpful for gaining power. When you are physically centered it helps you become mentally centered. When you are centered you are more alert, focused and confident. Centering allows you to raise your center of gravity and transfer your force from back to shoulders to generate full power for the shot.

Start about nine feet from the basket with your shooting hand facing the front of the rim while keeping your elbow in as far as your flexibility allows. Your shooting hand is above your shoulder between your ear and shoulder. Use your non-shooting hand to place the ball in your shooting hand. Do not reach for the ball with your shooting hand. The index finger of your shooting hand should be at the ball's midpoint.

Check that your forearm is at a right angle to the floor and that it forms an L with your upper arm. This position helps you lift the ball to the basket rather than throw it. Use your personalized key words in rhythm with your shot or when you are correcting your shot. If you tend to bring the ball back and throw it rather than lift it to the basket emphasize the key word "Front!"

If your shot misses to your strong-hand side of the rim, because your elbow is out, consider using the key word "In!" Work for the sequential build-up of force from your back, shoulders, arm, wrist, and fingers as you shoot. Say your personalized key words in the rhythm of your shot from the start of the shot to the release of the ball.

Visualize a successful shot with good form. Use feedback from the feel of the shot and its distance, direction, and reaction on the rim. If the shot was short, emphasize the key word "through!". To increase distance, use a sequential buildup of force using the key words "Back-shoulders-through!"

After making five consecutive shots 9 feet from the backboard, move the chair back until you are 12 feet from the backboard. After making five consecutive shots from 12 feet, move the chair back until you are 15 feet from the backboard (free throw distance).

After making five consecutive shots 15 feet from the backboard (free throw distance), move the chair back until you are 18 feet from the backboard. After making five consecutive shots from 18 feet, move the chair back until you are 21 feet from the backboard (or 3-pt. distance).

Coach Wissel has a wealth of NBA experience as an Assistant Coach with the Atlanta Hawks, Memphis Grizzlies and New Jersey Nets. Hal was also Director of Player Personnel with the Nets and Advance Scout with the Milwaukee Bucks and Dallas Mavericks. As a head college coach, Wissel compiled over 300 victories. Hal coached Florida Southern College to the 1981 Division II NCAA Championship. Coach Wissel is well known for his ability to develop players.

Coach Hal Wissel
Coach Hal Wissel
Hal founded Basketball World, featuring camps, clinics, books, and DVDs. Coach Wissel’s SHOOT IT BETTER Mini Camps are conducted worldwide for players ranging from NBA to youth level. Wissel has a doctorate in physical education and has authored two books:

Edited from: Wissel, Hal. (2004). Basketball: Steps to Success. Second edition. Human Kinetics, Champaigh, IL.
Wissel, Hal. (2005). Basketball Shooting: Confidence, Rhythm and Mechanics. Basketball World, Suffield, CT.
Wissel, Hal. (2005). Basketball Shooting: Off the Pass, Off the Dribble and In the Post. Basketball World, Suffield, CT.
Hal Wissel's FIVE shooting DVD's - available at: