Squaring and Turning on the Jump Shot

Here’s a question that we have asked hundreds of times to coaches and no one seems to know the true answer. We ask, “When a coach says squared up, does that mean he/she means squared up to start the shot and coaches don’t care what they do at the end of the shot OR a player should start squared up and land squared up?” In other words, what exactly are we talking about? No one seems to know.

We get answers from both sides and we also get responses like, “Its just something I say because my coach said it.” At Pro Shot, we don’t care if the coach tells a player to start squared to the basket. That’s fine. What we take issues is when a coach screams, “Land with ten toes to the basket.” It is so difficult to land ten toes to the basket and be an effective shooter.

When we get to a camp we put all the players on the three point line and tell them to shoot without a ball. We would estimate that 25% of boys land with a turn but only 2-3% of girls land with any semblance of a turn.

So why is the landing so important? The jump shot needs to have power. So much of this power is derived from the turn, which starts with the rotation of the hip and shoulder. Watch Steph Curry and ask yourself, “How does he get power in his shot?” So much of it is derived from the power of his turn and the hip and shoulder.
Think of a boxer. Where does the power of a punch come from? Hips and shoulder. Think of a pitcher or batter in baseball. Where does the power come from? Hip and shoulder. Same thing applies for a quarterback.

It is painful to watch a player attempting to shoot that lands ten toes to the basket. Very stiff and overly mechanical. It also leads to limited power in the shot.
There are actually may times when a shooter needs to land in a 90 degree. When coming off a screen, you would go 0 (which is squaring up) to 70-90 degrees. If you are a right handed shooter and you pull up going right you will need to go 0 to 70-90 degrees.

On catch and shoot shots from the pull up, however, the turn maybe be only 40-50 degrees because the angle isn’t as sharp and less power is needed. Lets face it, you need more power (and rotation) coming off of a down screen that a wide open three.

Coaches think way to much about the feet. We hear constantly the notion, “The feet are the most important part of shooting.” What? Is this soccer? Of course not. And of course players listen to coaches and they hear the term, “Square up” as they shoot. The more coachable the player is, usually the more squared they land. This effects girls the most since they are very coachable.

Yesterday a Division I womens coach texted me and said, “It’s so hard to watch AAU basketball because so few of these girls can shoot at all. MAybe 2%. They all land squared up.” He’s 100% correct.

Lets start using a different word instead of “squared”. Lets use Alignment and Aligning. Becoming a straight shooter really starts with aligning the hip, shoulder, elbow and release to the basket. You wouldn’t shoot a gun with ten toes to the target. You wouldn’t throw darts with ten toes to the basket. So why shoot a basketball this way?

It makes little sense to landing ten toes to the basket. You have no alignment and you have no power. If the best men and women shooters shoot this way and they have for the past five decades, maybe, just maybe, there is a correlation between accurate shooting and landing turned. We like to believe so.