Turn Pro With These Basketball Shooting Tips from NBA Shooting Coach Dave Love 

basketball shooting tips

Do you dream of shooting three-pointers like Steph Curry, or hitting free throws like Kobe? If that’s a yes, then you better read on – because we asked one of the best shooting coaches in the game for his expert basketball shooting tips. 

For young hoop shooters dreaming of dominating the court and going pro, improving your basketball shooting form is key. Having good and consistent shooting skills can be the difference between reaching the next level or getting stuck on the bench. So what makes you a good shot?

Pros generally score between 45-50% for field goals and above 35% for three-pointers. Great shooters have a higher average. In fact, Stephen Curry hit 43.7% of his threes in his 2009 rookie season. But hey, now we’re talking about one of the NBA’s best shooters.

But shooting percentages vary across positions and levels. Above that, it’s not all about shooting accuracy for young and upcoming basketball players.

More than hitting your shots, it’s about developing the right shot mechanics. It’s about training your shooting hand and putting the reps in. It’s countless basketball shooting drills, whether you’re a beginner or junior league top shot.

But what’s the right way to practice your shooting form? And what are some of the fundamentals to pay attention to? And how do you develop the confidence to become a consistently better shooter? 

Let’s dive into these questions and more with top NBA shooting coach Dave Love, who brings you some expert basketball shooting tips.

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Who’s Coach Dave Love?

Developing a consistent and reliable shooting technique is a challenging feat. It requires dedication, practice, and guidance from experienced mentors. Coach Dave Love studied the ideal shooting form like no other. He works with NBA teams and youth teams alike, helping players of all levels improve their shooting mechanics. 

Coach Love’s journey began in his hometown of Calgary, Canada, where he started working with youth players in 2001. By 2009, he had landed his first NBA job with the Phoenix Suns. Since then, the coach has worked for several other teams, including the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Orlando Magic. 

He’s currently traveling with the Dallas Mavericks and working with the NBA G League Ignite. Dave also runs camps around the world and shares his knowledge through hs website

With over two decades of experience coaching players at all levels, Coach Love has honed a unique ability to identify and correct shooting flaws. His systematic approach to shooting skill development has earned him features in, Sports Illustrated, and ESPN, showing just how sought-after his take on the fundamentals of shooting is. Below, we ask Dave for his tips for basketball shooting.

The fundamentals of a great shooting form

When it comes to developing a smooth, consistent shooting stroke, the fundamentals are everything. Elite shooters like Steph Curry don’t just get up one day knowing how to shoot perfectly in basketball and hitting three-pointers all day. Their picture-perfect shooting form is the product of hours upon hours of intentional repetition and a mastery of the essential basics.

When we ask Coach Love about the difference between good and great shooters, he boils it down to the number of reps they put in. 

“Good shooters tend to shoot a good amount and have relatively repeatable technique or form,” he explains in our interview. “Great shooters are the people that you can’t get out of the gym, that are always working on their shot, and that have a slightly more repeatable form that they’ve mastered.”

basketball shooting tips dave love

Clearly, becoming a better shooter comes down to practicing and getting those fundamental shooting mechanics locked into muscle memory. But what exactly separates amateur shooting form from pro-level mechanics?

Coach Love’s 3 Shooting Non-Negotiables

How to have a better shot in basketball? Love’s “shooting non-negotiables” cover the key fundamentals of how to shoot a basketball that every player must master. 

These three non-negotiables are being balanced, getting the shooting hand under the ball, and creating an arcing, lifting release that has the ball dropping down into the cylinder.

“How you go about doing those three things could vary from player to player,” coach Dave says in our interview. “But the reality is those three things each need to happen in some way.” Fail to check any of those boxes, and you’ll have a hard time developing consistency as a shooter. Get them right time and time again, and you’re on your way to becoming a great shooter.

basketball shooting tips dave love

1. Balance

“Shooting non-negotiable number one is you need to be as balanced as possible,” the coach explains. “And that usually comes from the width of your feet and your body posture.”

On his blog, Coach Love tells us more: “Basketball is a very dynamic sport, with a lot of negative energy being created just to get open to shoot shots.  Negative energy is any energy created that is moving away from the target.”

It’s easier to hit a stationary target than a moving target.  And while the hoop never actually moves, shooters can make it a moving target if they don’t have a good balance. So whether you’re attempting a free throw or jump shot, being in balance is crucial.

2. Hand placement

Shooting non-negotiable number two is you need to get the middle of your shooting hand underneath the middle of the ball. “If you want the ball to go straight, you need to lift it in a way that it will go straight.

Instead of compensating for the negative energy of having rotation in your body and being out of balance, you want to generate as much positive energy as possible. “Pushing with your guide hand in one direction forces the shooting hand to push off-line in the other direction to cancel out the negative energy,” Coach Love explains in his blog. “You are adding additional variables to an already challenging skill.”

“Instead, we want to learn how to get the shooting hand underneath the middle of the ball,” he writes. “And even more specifically, we want to get the middle of the shooting hand under the middle of the ball.” 

From the middle finger down to the shooting arm, you’ll want a straight line to extend through the flight of the ball. 

3. Getting arc 

“You need to get above the rim,” is the coach’s third non-negotiable. “The ball has to be dropping down on the rim. You have to get arc on the ball.”

A flat arc will produce a small target and, in turn, a slimmer scoring chance. Getting the ball to drop down on the hoop will make the target bigger. What are two shooting tips in basketball to get more lift?

  • Get the shooting hand under the ball
  • The shooting elbow needs to have a lifting motion

“Miss either of those two things and a player’s shot will be flat,” Coach Love writes on his blog.

Of course, the shooting fundamentals extend beyond just technique too. The mental game of shooting – staying focused, confident, and composed in the heat of action – is just as vital.

How to develop confidence in front of the rim

No matter how flawless your shooting form is, knocking down shots with ease takes self-belief and composure. Building that unshakable confidence is just as crucial as mastering the technical fundamentals. But how do young and often inexperienced players build that type of confidence?

“Players need to have had success in similar kinds of situations to where they want to be able to perform,” says Love. “Otherwise the confidence won’t be there or it will be fake.”

“Confidence comes when you don’t believe or hope, but you know that you can perform in a situation because you have in the past,” he explains. “Confidence is not a product that we can teach. It’s a byproduct that comes from having already done the work.”

That means a game situation doesn’t have to be exactly the same as a previous one for you to have that confidence. As Dave says, “You’re you don’t have to have made a game-winner to know that you can. Your practice and your history just have to have something similar to a game-winner.”

baseketball shooting tips dave love

The game-time pressure of taking a big shot can cause even the most skilled shooters to crumble if their self-belief is shaky. But if you’ve invested the hours honing your craft and succeeding in high-intensity practice scenarios, that hard-earned confidence will shine through when it matters most.

Ask any of the best shooters how they got their confidence and you’ll see that building that kind of confidence doesn’t just happen overnight – it takes patience, grit, and endless repetition. 

2 common shooting flaws and how to correct them

Even the best shooters in the world aren’t immune to developing bad habits that can hinder their shooting form. According to Coach Love, identifying and correcting these flaws is crucial for unlocking your full potential as a shooter. But what are some of the most common flaws?

“This can vary so much. And it’s not even necessarily by age group, or skill level,” Love says of common shooting mistakes. “It’s just a human thing that different people have different habits, different things holding them back.”

tips for basketball shooting dave love

Players show different flaws, ranging from the follow-through and generating backspin to missing strong footwork or a shooting foot being off balance. Nonetheless, Dave notices two often-seen shooting flaws and explains how to shoot a basketball correctly. What are these mistakes and what are two shooting tips in basketball to improve on those flaws?

1. Ball over head

Love sees players taking their set point (the loaded position before starting the shooting motion) with the ball behind their head instead of out in front. This tends to cause shooters to develop flat arcs and struggle with distance control. “Taking the set point of your shot back over or behind your head is a common habit, especially among male players,” he observes.

“The issue becomes with the elbow,” Love explains. “At the set point, a player hasn’t really started the shooting motion yet. But if the set point is over the player’s head, the elbow will already be lifted. And so as they begin the actual shooting motion, there is nowhere for the elbow to go.”

2. Two-handed shots

Another often-seen mistake that novice players especially make is adopting a two-handed shot. According to him, there are two distinct reasons players have a two-handed shot. 

One is the player lacks strength for one-handed shots. Second, they didn’t completely break the habit left over from when they weren’t strong enough for one-handed shots. Whatever the reason, the fix is the same. 

“Most people see that the guide hand is pushing the ball and attempt to get the guide hand off the side of the ball. Unfortunately, all this does is expose that the shooting hand is out of position,” he explains. 

Coach Love’s advice? Working on the shooting hand first and getting it underneath the middle of the ball. “Until the shooting hand is in a position to push the ball along the target line, the player will need to push with the guide hand.” 

But no matter the specific flaw, a few universal truths remain – developing better shooting habits 

takes time, patience, and lots of basketball training. That’s why Love’s final basketball shooting tips revolve around incorporating basketball drills and progressions that simulate game scenarios within the “challenge point” that accelerates learning.

Coach Love’s final basketball shooting tips for upcoming players

Having shared so many basketball shooting tips already, we ask whether the coach has any other shooting a basketball tips. Turns out, he does have a final and most important advice for young players trying to break through and get to the next level in their basketball career. 

Hammering home his point, Coach Love repeats the importance of a lot of practice shooting to improve your shooting technique and become a better shooter. 

But whether it’s to increase your shooting range or to improve on the free throw line, working on that effectively takes more than blind practice

Practicing effectively takes knowing exactly how to have a better shot in basketball, understanding how to work the particular part you’re struggling with, translating that into a good drill – and then doing those reps at what Coach Dave calls “the challenge point”. 

“Your practice needs to be easy enough that you can actually execute the habit that you’re trying to execute,” he tells us. “But then complicated enough for the situation to be challenging. Practicing in an overly simplified environment is going to slow down your learning as well.”

tips for basketball shooting dave love

Practicing within the challenge point means understanding how to manipulate reps and drills so that you’re constantly in a state of accelerated learning. If you do that, you’re sure to improve your shooting form and become a better basketball player. To get there, how much time should you commit to shooting workouts?

According to Love, it depends on each individual’s skill set and areas for improvement. “For younger players, I think the answer is going to vary from player to player depending on their skill set.”

But the reality is that shooting is a big part of the game. If you can’t shoot the basketball at all, or if you’re a really weak shooter, then your options are limited as far as teams you can play on, roles you can have within a team, amount of playing time you can get.

The coach stresses that shooting can’t be the thing holding you back. “It’s not that you have to master the habit and be the greatest shooter to be successful, you just can’t have it holding you back. And so your practice, how much time you invest in it, needs to reflect that.”

tips for basketball shooting dave love

For naturally talented shooters, developing other areas of their game like dribbling may be more important. But for those struggling with their jump shot, dedicating time to a shooting workout is essential.

As Love simplifies: “If it is something you’re naturally skilled at, then maybe you don’t need as much time dedicated to it. But if it is something holding you back, then there needs to be more time put into developing that skill.”

Mastering the shooting fundamentals and developing confidence takes time, effort, and a calculated practice approach tailored to your abilities. But by embracing Coach Love’s insights and putting in the reps, any young player can elevate their game and get one step closer to achieving their hoop dreams.

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