Overshooting? Undershooting? Missing… to the left?

November 18, 2015 § Leave a comment


One of the more peculiar situations in shooting is when a shooter consistently misses to the left.

This is peculiar, since bad shooters typically have trouble controlling shot distance, not accuracy.

If you’re consistently undershooting, it might be because of tension in the legs. Let your legs relax and make sure you’re shooting with arc.

Shooting with more arc might seem counter-intuitive (as more arc generally means less distance), but it helps some shooters relax and makes it easier to follow through on your shot. Following through helps ensure better force transfer from legs to ball. Even if you don’t want to increase your arc, consider focusing on your follow-through.

If you still tend to be undershooting, it’s usually not because your legs are too weak (so don’t go do squats). It’s usually a problem with the core, where the force generated by the legs aren’t transferring up to the arms. It also may be due to having small hands, which also limits force transfer.

Work on core stability exercises — i.e. planks and not crunches. Here’s a challenging and fun suite of exercises if you have access to a gym: http://www.stack.com/video/1875312691/the-steve-nash-offseason-workout/.

If you’re consistently overshooting, you have a real problem. It could be that you’re too strong! Consider changing your shooting form. For example, you shouldn’t be shooting at the top of your jump. Take a small hop.

Also, consider shooting with more arc. Since over-shooters tend to already have larger hands and are naturally strong, shooting with more arc won’t increase force transfer (and thus increase distance) as it might with under-shooters.

Most of the muscular athletic freaks in the NBA struggle with shooting. Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose, and Blake Griffin are three prominent specimen who come to mind.  They’re simply so strong they have to tense up when they release to avoid overshooting.

By the way, this is why strength, and not necessarily height, is usually the natural determinant of whether a player is a ‘big man.’ We don’t see many  Big men are too strong to be effective perimeter threats. That’s not to say perimeter guys aren’t strong, but big, men are a different type of strong (heavy, slow, and controlled, as opposed to explosive).

Of course, short guys who have ‘big man’ games unfortunately lack potential to make it the big leagues (but never say never).

Finally, what happens if you consistently shoot left? This is a rare case that isn’t really covered online as far as I can tell.

I have struggled with missing left for a long time. The problem is, if you square your elbow to the basket, and extend it, it naturally falls a little to the left of where it began. So when you’re shooting relaxed, the balls will tend to err left. If you try to force your elbow forward, there will be tension, which is never good for shooting.

The problem is your elbow and arm are too involved in the shot, and your power generation from the lower body is not sufficient. This results in the arms “pushing” the ball forward as part of the shot.

To change this, think of the elbow and arm merely lifting the ball in the air, and the wrist being the only upper body part exerting forward force on the ball. The wrist is one of the most stable (non-rotational) joints in the entire body and can achieve remarkable accuracy. To generate more force from the lower body, follow the same tips as under-shooters: relax, increase your arc, and follow through (which you are already doing with you’re focusing the wrist!).

A final note: I cannot recall seeing a player who constantly misses right; there is no natural body motion that really results in this. If someone does tend to miss right, I would wager it’s simply a blatant error in form.

Also — as with nearly all basketball shooting advice, these are very black-box-esque. Meaning, they have worked empirically, but lack evidence implying causation. If the tips are not working for you, abandon them!

TLDR; If you’re undershooting, relax, increase your arc, and focus on follow through. Work on improving core stability. If you’re overshooting, you may have a real problem: you’re too strong. Tweak your shooting form. If you’re shooting left, your arm is probably too involved in your shot. Focus on lifting the ball with the arms, and firing with your wrist. The rest of the strength should come from the legs and core.

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