Fix Target Earlier to Improve Your Shooting Practice
Set your sights on the prize – winning the game. Better yet, fix your target earlier so that your shooting practice will improve! You will find that fixing your eyes on the target will result in higher shooting percentages.
Benefit of Fixing Your Eyes on the Target Early
When you have the habit of fixing your eyes on the target, your shooting skills will improve. Why? You’re giving your brain more time to calculate the distance between the ball and basket. You can then focus on your objective - shooting the ball into the basket.
Of course, the calculations made in your brain occur within seconds. You should never spend too much time on thinking about making the shot. Your muscle and brain memory will kick in so that the shot becomes more natural.
You have to develop the habit during drills and practice sessions. The shooting trick will only work when the habit comes like second nature during games.
You should also identify the target during games. Your shot will be more effective because you can make better release decisions. The strength, direction and point of your release will be more accurate.
There will be instances when looking at the target isn’t necessary. This is the case for trick shots where you shoot the ball while facing away from the basket. But before doing so, you must first see the basket and visualize the ball sinking into it.
A Few Tips about Setting Eyes on Target When Shooting:
- Locate the rim of the basket as early as possible. This is your target in shooting.
- Keep your eyes on the target from the time you release the ball until it touches the rim.
- Keep your chin as still as possible. Your eyes will naturally follow.
- Avoid following the flight of the ball.
Your focus on the target will likely be rewarded in several ways. First, you can be assured that the ball has sank through the hoop. Second, you can take the next move in case the ball rebounded.
Keep in mind that your reaction to a missed shot will matter in the next seconds. You can either take the rebound or move into position. You and your teammates should have the next move planned during practice.
If you have difficulty keeping your eyes on the target, you can keep these tips in mind:
- Remind yourself about the target-within-a-target concept.
- Let your coach watch your shooting practice. You can then be called out when your eyes stray to the basketball’s flight path instead of the target.
Still having difficulty in keeping your eyes on the target? You may want to find other remedies.
You can, for example, meditate since meditation can increase your concentration. You may also practice keeping your eyes on a single thing while tuning out the rest, off court.
Like all things in basketball, this is a learned skill. You have to consciously keep your eyes on the target until it becomes instinctual.
Beyond Fixing Your Eyes on the Target
But keeping your eyes on the rim of the basket isn’t all there is to shooting success. You must also consider other important aspects.
- Hold the ball on your fingertips. You will have proper control over the ball in this manner.
- Start small but end tall. You must be in the athletic stance at the start of the shooting movement (i.e., small). Your legs should be shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Your power comes from this position.
As you release the ball, your body smoothly springs up. You will end the shot with your body straight while your hands are high in the air.
This progression from small to tall is useful when you’re tired already. You’re harnessing the power of your legs instead of letting your arms do all the work.
- Remember the middle-to-middle principle. Your elbow should be tucked into your body while pointing to the middle of the rim. Your middle finger should also look like it’s dipping into the middle of the rim during follow-through.
- Avoid hanging in the air. You may want to copy Kobe Bryant’s signature shooting stance but just don’t do it! (Kobe is a freak of nature so he can do it.) You must instead shoot as you’re going up. This usually means at least an inch before reaching the top of your jump.
- Be conscious of your elbow position and movement. Your elbow is akin the lever in your shot. At release, your elbow must be above your eyes. You should also snap back your elbow a little during the peak of the shot. Your arm must be fully extended such that the motion causes the snapping elbow motion.
Avoid pushing your arms out toward the basket. You may get adequate distance on the ball but the risks aren’t worth it. These include getting low percentage flat arc shots and blocked shots.
- Develop optimal arc. Your best bet: A 45-degree arc since it increase shooting percentage. A too-flat arc (35 degrees) will have no margin for error. A too-high arc (55 degrees) will compromise distance control.
- Hold your follow through. You’re making a muscle memory so that the shooting movement becomes natural.
- Finish the movement with a relaxed wrist. Your wrist should be loose while your fingers are hanging down. Otherwise, your release will be tighter and, thus, less effective.
And when you’re shooting, you should remove negative thoughts from your head. Fear causes anxiety resulting in a tense mind and body. You should know by now the value of a relaxed mind and body in shooting.
As early as possible, you should identify the target so that you have a better chance at nailing it. You can adjust your angle of attack, for example, when you have done so. You may like to do trick shots but for higher shooting percentages, keep your eye on the target.
With the distractions during games, keeping your eyes on the target can be difficult. But with plenty of practice, you will soon find it second nature in your game.