Today I wanna raise a subject that I’ve always struggled with as a player – shooting the basketball.
Shooting is the most common way points are being made in the game. Therefore, it’s an utmost important skill to have, if not THE most.
But developing an effective jumper is not an easy task, many people struggle with their form and suffer from poor mechanics.
Luckily today, we have many NBA players in the spotlight we could learn from.
One huge star that comes to mind is Stephen Curry, who set a single-season record for most three-pointers made. He has developed a reputation of a consistent, “pure” shooter, and it seems like every shot he takes is going to swish right through the net.
But what sets Curry’s shot apart from everyone else?
Well, here are a few things you should know by looking at the following footage:
1. The Turn
We’ve all heard this expression from our coach:
Square your feet to the basket, keep ’em shoulder width apart!
When I was a kid, I was always told to do that.
However, it plays out differently in Curry’s case.
While most players were taught to keep ten toes pointed straight to the rim, Curry maintains an excellent balance and control by actually turning his feet about 10 degrees away from the rim towards his weak hand.
In doing so, he aligns his hip and right shoulder to the basket, which leads to a straighter shot coming from his right arm.
This technique apparently also helps the problem of keeping the elbow tucked in.
The irony is, Curry himself claims to square his feet, but as you can see from the footage above, he clearly turns them.
So there are two options here:
Either he’s not aware of the fact that he’s doing it (unlikely), or he simply doesn’t want to make it easy for others to copy him (sounds more reasonable).
2. The Dip
When Shooting off the pass Curry dips the ball, dropping it a few inches below from where he caught it.
It turns out this dip is very important for power and rhythm, and it also what helps Curry’s shot go straighter based on Newton’s first law of motion (the law of inertia) which says:
“An object in motion will stay in motion until it’s affected by an opposing force.”
A good example to demonstrate this principle is bowling.
When a bowling player comes to throw the ball, he first cocks his hand back and only then launches it forward.
This action of pulling the ball back makes it much more accurate because when the ball is released, it already has some energy going in the direction you’re sending it in.
The same principle can be applied to basketball. Dipping the ball increases the inertia, thus making your shot more accurate and less likely to deviate to the left or right.
And Just like in the first case, Steph denies the fact he dips the ball.
Could he really be so unaware of his shooting form? I don’t think so.
Anyway, Curry likes to take his shots off the pass, this allows him to set his form as he catches the ball, which makes it easier for him to catch and shoot in real-time.
When he catches the ball, he slightly lowers his arms and then raises them up over his head as he’s jumping, which gives him a steady release and more power for long-distance shots.
3. The One-Motion Shot
Curry is a one-motion shooter, which means there’s no hitch or stopping, he releases the ball in one fluid motion.
This form can be problematic though because it’s not ideal for close-range shots and you usually need a lot of space to avoid being blocked. But the good thing about being a one-motion shooter is that your release becomes super-quick.
On the other hand, you can’t jump very high when shooting this way, so it’s a trade-off.
Which one is better? Well, it depends.
If you’re mostly a long-distance shooter like Curry, the one-motion shot would work perfect for you. But if you’re more of a penetrator type of player who likes to take tough contested shots like Kobe or Chris Paul, you’d feel better with a two-motion shot.
One thing’s for sure, the one-motion jumper works great for Curry, but it’s really up to you if you wanna adopt it or not.
I personally prefer the two-motion shot because I kinda got used to it, it gives me more control on the force I put into the shot when taking tough shots.
4. Little Knee Flexion
Steph uses very little knee flexion when he shoots, his legs are bent just slightly to give him enough power to jump, but he uses speed as the main component.
Due to this, Curry has been measured to have one of the fastest shots in the NBA.
Here’s the thing:
When you bend your knees, the lower you get, the harder it is for you go back up. It’s like squatting in weight-lifting, the lower you go with the squat, the harder it is to come back up, and it takes longer too.
So try to use less knee flexion and don’t be like this guy (see picture).
If you feel like you need more force in your jump, try using your toes as well.
5. Breaking the Rules
Well, I hate to do that, but don’t blame me—blame Curry, ’cause when it comes to his landing width, he’s breaking the rule many times by landing wide (as seen in the video).
Shooting narrow is important especially for guards because it enhances the speed of the shot, and guards need to be quick with it.
Curry doesn’t always follow that, but in his case, he’s such a good shooter that he can break the rules and still get away with it. The reason for that is that Curry is very consistent with his upper-body, so he can do whatever he wants with his legs and still score.
This comes to show you that the main component to his success is his consistent release.
By the way, if you noticed from watching the video, Curry also likes to land forward from where he jumped.
This allows him to create more momentum with his body and shoot more easily from long distances. It’s called the Sweep & Sway, and I’m gonna get into to that later on in another post.
So there you have it. These are the five techniques Curry uses to make himself an unstoppable shooter. These are things you can start practicing right now, and the sooner you’ll start implementing them, the better off your shot will be.
Until then, good luck!