What Does Squaring Up Actually Mean?

Have you ever shot a gun? Do you square your feet or do you point your shooting shoulder and hip to the target?

Have you ever played darts? Good dart players align their hip, elbow and shoulder to the target.

Have you ever shot a basketball? I know–what a dumb question. We all have.

So think about this–shooting a gun, shooting a dart and shooting a basketball. What do they all have in common? The word shooting and of course shooting is about aiming and alignment.

Shooting a basketball accurately starts with shooting the ball straight and aligning the hip, shoulder, release and elbow to the basket. We call this the shot line.

If you have followed Pro Shot the past few years you know that we are big advocates of the turn. Of course this makes our approach controversial. Some coaches have actually claimed that Pro Shot is “radical” simply because our concept of aligning the shooting hip and shoulder to the basket (and turning the feet).

We fully understand the term “square up” is used in nearly every gym in the world. But what does it truly mean?

In the past six months Pro Shot has asked hundreds of middle school, high school and college players and coaches this question: “When a coach yells ‘Square up!’ what does it mean? Does it mean to square up to start the shot and land squared up as well? In other words, ten toes should always be pointed to the basket. OR does it mean that you start squared and when you land it really doesn’t matter what happens?

Most players really didn’t know. A high percentage of girls admitted that they believe “square up” means to land squared, while the majority of male players believed “squaring” was only important at the start of the shot. We also discovered that most coaches were confused about the squaring part as well. They know to say “Square up” because that’s what their coaches repeatedly said, BUT were unsure about the landing aspect.

At Pro Shot we believe a player can actually start squared or start turned. The key is the landing. It is very difficult to land ten toes to the basket. There is no alignment here and little if no power.

So much of power on a shot comes from the hip. When you think of so many other sports like golf, hockey, baseball (hitting and pitching), throwing a football, and tennis, the power is derived from hip rotation. There is an old belief in shooting that less rotation and movement is better. So do we want our players to shoot like Frankenstein’s monster? Of course not. When the hip rotates and turns, the feet turn.

We have studied thousands upon thousands of great shooters from the WNBA and NBA through video and have noticed that some start squared and others start their shot turned.

We have also realized that a player needs to land with their hip, shoulder, elbow and release aligned to the basket. By landing with squared feet, players receive little if no alignment and power in their shot. They will miss consistently short and to the sides.

Coaches, when you shout “Square your feet” next time, you might want to explain what this term means to your players. If you are speaking about square to start and then they should turn to land, then tell your players.

If you believe a player should start squared and land squared, you might want to do some research and watch the greatest male and female shooters of all time. They simply don’t land squared to the basket. It really makes little sense.