Types of Shooting in Basketball
When you watch a game of pro basketball, it’s truly a show of athletic grace.
Players sprint, dodge, and jump in an effort to score points by throwing a ball into their team’s net, while the opposing team tries to stop them.
In order to make shots from sometimes unlikely angles, basketball players around the world have developed a variety of different shots to help score points.
These shots range from the standard jump throw, all the way up to highly complex moves such as a floater.
Let’s take a look at all the different types of shooting in basketball, from the free throw to the fade away.
Top 10 Types of Shooting in Basketball
The Free Throw
While there are any number of ways to get the ball into the basket, there are only two ways to get points during a game.
One is to throw the ball into your team’s net during play, and the other is through free throws.
Free throws are awarded to a team if the other player has fouled. While a shot during a game may be worth 2 or 3 points, a free throw is always worth one point.
Free throws are always taken from the free throw line, and may not be contested.
Since there is no pressure from other players, this throw should be practiced by lining up at the free throw line and practicing the same shot until good accuracy is achieved.
Another important shot to learn is the layup. This is an easy shot for beginners to learn, and is considered the most basic throw in the game.
This shot should be used when you have the ball and are close to the basket, but there are no defenders there to block you.
The easiest way to make a layup is to gently bounce the ball off the backboard. This is actually the reason the backboard is there!
Try to hit the top corner of the inner square outlined on the backboard, and gently bounce the ball off of it and into the basket.
Layups can be performed without using the backboard, but when it is done this way it is called a finger roll.
This is because you are rolling the ball off the tip of your fingers into the basket, not really throwing it.
Layups are one of the most common throws in basketball. Everyone from new players to pros perform layups, and they may happen several times during a game.
If you’re new to basketball, this should be one of the first types of throws you practice and develop proficiency in.
Another shot that relies on the backboard is the bank shot. While the layup doesn’t require the backboard to be successful, the bank shot always does.
In this throw you are relying on the backboard to get the ball into the basket.
Bank shots should be performed close to the basket, and can be done at different angles.
This is one shot that should be practiced extensively, and from many different angles, since it has a high percentage of success rate—and is usually more successful than jump shots.
If you haven’t made the backboard another tool in your arsenal as a basketball player, you should certainly make a point of practicing bank shots.
They can open up your world and make you a better player, because you no longer need to rely on the ball alone to score points.
Even those who are not familiar with basketball have probably heard of dunking in basketball. During this iconic move, the player doesn’t leave the ball getting into the basket through chance.
They jump up to the net and slam the ball into the net.
Although this all but assures two points for the team, it isn’t an easy move to master.
This move requires the player be able to jump higher than the net in order to make the throw, which is always set at 10 feet.
This means the player will have to have a powerful jump, be a significant height, or a combination of the two. Dunking the ball can be a powerful motivator for the rest of the team, because it is so difficult to do.
Practicing the slam dunk means working on vertical jumping skills, and taking care to avoid traveling while approaching for a dunk.
It’s easy to forget to dribble the ball or run too far forward after picking the ball up when preparing for a dunk, so practicing the approach is also beneficial.
If you travel during play while attempting the slam dunk, the other team will be awarded the ball, so it’s best to take great care to insure movement is legal while driving forward for a dunk.
If you are not able to dunk, don’t stress. This is a very difficult throw to perform, and may be impossible for shorter players.
This throw isn’t actually a throw at all, but it is still an important type of shot to practice. A tip-in happens when another team member has made a shot and missed.
If this happens, as long as the ball has not touched the rim, it is legal for another team member to send the ball back up toward the hoop for another chance.
To do this, the ball will already be in play, and has either sailed over the hoop or bounced gently across the backboard. The ball then comes toward you.
You may then jump up to hit the ball with your hand and “tip” it back into the net.
A tip-in is especially useful for power forwards and centers, since they are tall enough to make a tip-in easy.
Care should be taken when attempting a tip-in, because it is easy to end up with a violation if the ball makes contact with the rim or net.
When the ball hits the rim or the net, touching the ball is considered a violation and results in the other team getting the ball.
Another important shot to learn is the jump shot. This move works exactly how it sounds.
Instead of simply throwing the ball at the basket, the player jumps while throwing the ball, in the hopes of getting a height advantage over defenders trying to block the shot.
In order to have a good chance at making the basket, the player should plant both feet solidly, and jump high into the air.
When at the highest point of the jump, make the throw. Ideally, this will send the ball over the heads of defending players and into the basket.
In practice, this is just as hard as it sounds. Throwing the ball in midair takes more practice than making a basket standing on the ground.
A great deal of practice needs to be spent on a jump shot in order for this to be worth trying in game.
Some of the best jump shooters in the NBA include Stephen Curry, Ray Allen, and Kevin Durant.
If you’re interested in perfecting this move, watching these greats play is a good way to see how the jump shot is performed in action.
This type of shot isn’t unique in terms of when it can or should be used, but is instead a powerful sign of the accuracy of a player.
The swish is a shot that has been made so accurately, it passes through the hoop without touching the rim.
The result is a score that is all but silent, save for the soft “swish” of the ball going through the net.
As satisfying as they are, no extra points are awarded for a swish. As long as it falls through the net, even the most wobbly toss is rewarded the same as a perfect throw.
This doesn’t mean you should not aim for perfection however.
No matter what type of shot you’re taking, you should always make a swish your goal. That way, the ball is always centered.
There’s no secret to getting a swish, just many hours of practice in order to nail the perfect shot.
This shot is useful if you are a guard or large player, and is effective against players who are taller than you.
This shot is also useful if you find yourself in a high traffic situation, surrounded by opponents who are defending the ball.
To pull this move off, create space from the start so that a tight defender doesn’t leave you with no room. This means a broader stance if possible.
Turn your shoulder at an angle to the hoop, but don’t drop your shoulder. Jump straight into the air and use your wrist to power the ball toward the basket.
This should also work like a jump shot in the final stages, with the ball coming off the tip of your finger in order to provide rotation.
It can be done both off of a dribble and off of a catch, so practice both in order to perfect this shot.
There are a few variations on the jump hook available, so it may be worth looking at and practicing all of them in order to benefit the most from this shot.
While not as complex as the next two shots, this one does require some practice to perfect.
Get your friends or teammates to practice blocking you so you can practice in crowded and difficult situations, as well as alone.
This complex shot should only be attempted after the player has mastered the standard jump shot.
In this shot, the player creates space for a clearer shot by starting with their backs to the basket, with the ball extended away from the defense.
The player then pivots around toward the hoop, and throws while jumping up and backwards to maximize space.
Fade aways can be done from anywhere on the court, and don’t necessarily have to begin facing away from the basketball hoop. It does however, take a great deal of athletic prowess to pull off.
If you can’t pull this off in one smooth motion, you should probably practice your jump shot until the fadeaway is an easy variation.
While many basketball experts have advice on how to perform the fadeaway, there is no standard footwork for the move.
If you want to make this part of your routine you’ll need to practice it yourself until you find what works for you.
This shot is typically used by guards or shorter players in an effort to get over a large player.
It’s no secret that basketball is favored by tall players, and it can be tough to get a shot over a player who is 6’10 and determined to block any shots heading for that net.
The floater is setup similar to a layup, but the ball is then sent high into the air with very little spin.
The goal is to get the ball high up over a defender’s head, and get the ball to either lightly bounce off the backboard into the net, or fall in completely.
This shot takes a lot of practice in order to be successful, and without extensive practice it is a low percentage shot.
Players such as Jarret Jack have turned the floater into an art form, and have taken advantage of this skill to get over half their attempted floaters into the basket.
If you’re short or not as athletic as other basketball players, perfecting the floater may well be the best option for you.
There are many different types of shots out there. Practicing all of them, with the possible exception of the slam dunk, is a good way to help you become a better and more versatile player.
As you continue to grow and develop as a player, it’s likely that you will find a throw style that you favor, and that you are the most accurate with.