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How To Shoot 3 Pointers

Posted on | April 9, 2011 | Comments Off on How To Shoot 3 Pointers

Here I will discuss all the tips for improving your 3 point shooting that I learned playing basketball. It took me 3 or 4 years to understand basic things that answer the question how to shoot 3 pointers.

Your body

You probably have heard that proper shooting mechanics is very important. For example Ray Allen every time shoots a basketball with the same form. So it is important to develop your 3 point shooting form that you will use constantly in the game and practice. I think you should not exactly copy one or other player’s form but rather work on your current form and try to improve it.

When launching a 3-pointer there are few main body parts that more or less contribute to shooting form.You need to evaluate them to see if you can improve.

Feet & Legs

Let’s start with feet. Feet position can be straight (||) (facing the basket), slightly turned (// or \\)  or sideways (/ \). Only recently I found that if you place your feet sideways like that / \ and elevate with your legs you will get much more stability while in the air. You should try all three feet positions to elevate from and see which works better for you. Different situations require different actions, for example you could use sideways feet position for spot up shooting and slightly turned for shooting off dribbling.

Always use your legs to elevate while shooting a 3 pointer, legs has the strongest muscles in human body so you can transfer that power to your hands while releasing the basketball. This is especially important in late game situations when you’re tired and power from hands and wrist will be not enough to shoot. Additional advantage of shooting 3 pointer using legs is that you release the ball at higher level so defender will have more trouble blocking your shot.

Last thing about legs is to monitor your final stage of the shot. Do you land in the same spot where you started? Unless you’re shooting game winner buzzer beater in the last second of the game while being closely guarded you have to land in the same spot. If you land to the left or right, that means you tried to correct the shot at the final stage and you have problems with the hands position. Many players including Ray Allen land further from the starting position after 3 pt. shot, it’s not bad, just make sure you land straight and not to the left or right side.

Elbow & Hands

Keep your elbow straight and do not flare it while making shot. It is much more complicated to compensate the ball trajectory with left hand in the final stages of release than to shoot just with one hand. Practice shooting with one hand inside the arc to get used to keeping straight elbow. When ball leaves your right hand, the left hand must not touch the ball (the opposite if you’re left handed). Last fingers that touch the ball are index and middle finger.

Palm the ball with all fingers before shot and roll your wrist until finally ball leaves your hand. Keep hanging your arms after shot for a little moment and you can even try to wave good bye for the ball or imagine grabbing the rim. This will create a softer shooter’s touch.

Higher shooting arch increases chances for ball to enter the hole but is harder to control, so aim for arch to be not too high but also not to sharp. The ball should spin it’s way to the rim.

Some players swing ball down to the waist level and then elevates. Just remember not to swing the ball very low because you loose precious time for the defense to recover.


As it was with the feet, your head also must be stable and not to swing while shooting 3 pointer. Think about sniper looking through a back sight, does he move it? So keep your head stable.


The longer you look at the target (in this case the rim), the more accurate your shot will be. Of course we’re talking about logical time, half a second could be your breaking point. If you shoot like Kobe Bryant (catapult style) continue to target your eyes on the rim when you have the ball overhead.

Your mind

Your mind also plays a great role in making that 3 pointer. Always believe in making it. Your confidence in crucial game situations is very important. If you do not believe you can make it, better pass it.

Your situation

Situation dictates how you shoot. Spot up 3 point shooting is the easiest because you always shoot with the same technique. If you shoot a running or off the dribble 3 pointer then slight adjustments are needed like better release timing and feet position.


As you can see, shooting 3 pointer in basketball consists of many different things. You should practice and perfect your shooting form. Do not expect to double your percentage overnight but 1 month of motivated practice can make the difference. Great 3 point shooters like Ray Allen, Gilbert Arenas, Reggie Miller made countless shots before the game. They built confidence by practicing and so should you.


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