Sports & Games

How to Shoot a Basketball: Learn Steph Curry’s Tips for Stance, Alignment, and Mechanics of Basketball Shooting

Written by MasterClass

Jul 30, 2019 • 4 min read

Properly shooting a basketball might appear easy but is actually the result of several complex and precise movements incorporating the entire body. Steph Curry has become known for his perfect jump shot that is accurate from long range, over thirty-feet, well beyond the 3 point line. Curry has several tips for people looking to perfect their shooting motion—which requires a combination of stance, alignment, and hand positioning—as well as tips for how to practice shooting a basketball to perfect this technique.


3 Important Factors to Keep in Mind When Shooting

Every great shooter relies on solid mechanics. Every part of their bodies works together to become the foundation of their shots, whether they be free throws, jump shots, layups, or even slam dunks.

These solid mechanics bring the body together in one combined motion, yet different body parts must perform different functions to properly shoot a basketball. The three most important mechanical factors for lining up and executing a perfect jump shot are:

  1. Stance. How you position your feet, the direction in which they point, and how to support the jump shot motion from the ground up.
  2. Alignment. How your body aligns from your feet through your shoulders to support the fluid jump shot motion.
  3. Hand positioning. How you position your dominant shooting arm and shooting hand, how you support that positioning with your non-dominant off hand (or guidehand), how you position your index and middle finger, and how you release the ball based on this hand positioning.

By bringing together these three independent components into one fluid motion through practice and education, the basketball jump shot can become second nature, falling just short of the backboard at the back of the rim and going right through the rim.

Why Is Stance and Alignment Important When Shooting?

A perfect shooting motion starts from the ground and moves up through the entire body, which should be loose after a thorough warm-up. This means that foot positioning and body alignment are just as important (if not more so) than the actual hand motion that releases the basketball towards the hoop.

Every good shot begins in the lower body. Then follow these tips for stance and alignment for proper shooting:

  • Begin by pointing your toes of your shooting foot and non shooting foot in the same direction, first squaring them with the rim and then working through practice to find the most natural stance for your body.
  • Your legs, not your arms, give you power and consistency, so load your lower body by pushing the arches of your feet into the floor.
  • Keeping your knees behind your toes, concentrate on letting power and energy flow from your feet up through your hips and glutes.
  • Square your toes, knees, and shoulders, and remember to flex your legs on every shot.

What Is the Proper Hand Positioning When Shooting A Basketball?

The basketball shooting motion begins in the feet, but it ends at the hands. All the best body mechanics cannot overcome poor hand positioning or a poor follow through. Hand positioning is key to becoming a consistent shooter: it affects feel, proper spin, connection, and control through your release. Keep the following in mind:

  • To find proper hand position, place the index finger of your dominant hand on the air valve of the ball. Take a few form shots to get used to the centered feel of this position, with your hand cheating towards either side of the ball.
  • Always hold the ball with your finger pads, being sure to leave some breathing room between the ball and your palm.
  • As you line up your shot, aim your eyes at the two or three rim hooks that are facing you, and think about dropping the ball just over the front part of the rim.
  • Don’t release too low! A higher release point makes it harder for a defender to interfere with your shot.
  • As you release the ball, keep your elbow and wrist in line with the basket, extending your arm fully so that at the point of release your elbow ends above your eye.

Steph Curry’s Tips for Improving Your Shooting Skills

It’s one thing to know how to shoot, it’s another to actually do it. Curry has tips to bring your knowledge to the court through practice. Basketball shooting drills and shooting workouts will develop muscle memory, naturalizing the motion and making you comfortable shooting from the free throw line to the three point arc everytime you ball up.

Below are some of Curry’s tips for proper form shooting.

  • Without a ball, practice your form in front of a mirror. Focus on your foot positioning and lower body alignment, loading your hips, bringing your shooting hand up through your eyebrow in a clean line, and releasing with your elbow above your eye and a gooseneck finish.
  • Spend 15 minutes walking around the basketball court, keeping your eyes on the rim. Familiarize yourself with the rim hooks and how many hooks are facing you from different degree angle or distances. Without a ball, practice running to a random spot on the floor, stopping, and finding the rim hooks with your eyes as quickly as possible.
  • Practice your hand alignment on the ball. Put the index finger of your shooting hand on basketball’s air valve, like Stephen does, and let the ball rest in your hand to feel the center of the ball. Standing just a few feet from the basket, take 10 shots by finding the air valve first. Then take 10 more just by finding the center of the ball with your hand, not searching for the air valve.

Regularly practicing these shooting motions through basketball drills will develop good shooting habits and overall basketball skills. Combined with hard work and good dribbling, this basketball shooting technique and basketball shooting form will make you one of the best shooters on the court with a swish and shooting percentage you can be proud of.

Learn more about basketball and form shooting in Steph Curry’s MasterClass.