Shooting is the act of attempting to score points throwing the ball through the basket. While methods can vary with players and situations, the most common technique can be outlined here.
The player should be positioned facing the basket with feet about shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, and back straight. The player holds the ball to rest in the dominant hand’s fingertips (the shooting arm) slightly above the head, with the other hand on the side of the ball. To aim the ball, the player’s elbow should be aligned vertically, with the forearm facing in the direction of the basket. The ball is shot by bending and extending the knees and extending the shooting arm to become straight; the ball rolls off the finger tips while the wrist completes a full downward flex motion. When the shooting arm is stationary for a moment after the ball released, it is known as a follow-through; it is incorporated to maintain accuracy. Generally, the non-shooting arm is used only to guide the shot, not to power it.
Players often try to put a steady backspin on the ball to deaden its impact with the rim. The ideal trajectory of the shot is somewhat arguable, but generally coaches will profess proper arch. Most players shoot directly into the basket, but shooters may use the backboard to redirect the ball into the basket.
The two most common shots that use the above described set up are the set shot and the jump shot. The set shot is taken from a standing position, with neither foot leaving the floor, typically used for free throws. The jump shot is taken while in mid-air, near the top of the jump. This provides much greater power and range, and it also allows the player to elevate over the defender. Failure to release the ball before returning the feet to the ground is a traveling violation.
Another common shot is called the layup. This shot requires the player to be in motion toward the basket, and to “lay” the ball “up” and into the basket, typically off the backboard (the backboard-free, underhand version is called a finger roll). The most crowd-pleasing, and typically highest-percentage accuracy shot is the slam dunk, in which the player jumps very high, and throws the ball downward, straight through the hoop.
A missed shot that misses the basket completely is referred to as an air ball.
The best shooters combine great dedication, coordination, and confidence. Practice is essential to shoot at a high level. Getting open is also crucial; at the pro level, top shooters rarely miss when given an unguarded look at the basket.