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Shot Selection, excerpt from The Ultimate Shooter's Handbook

by Thomas Emma, Power Performance, Inc.

Shot Selection

Good shot selection is something every coach preaches. Players who ignore it find themselves viewing the action from the bench instead of stroking jump shots on the court. Developing the ability to recognize and execute high percentage shots on a consistent basis is a prerequisite for reaching your full potential as a shooter. Regardless of how stellar your shooting mechanics, it will be of no use if you make a habit of launching bad shots.

What a good shot is, of course, will vary form player to player. One man's rock is another man's gold as they say. As such, I recommend that you regularly take inventory of which shots you feel most comfortable and confident taking under game conditions. This approach will ensure that you exhibit sound shot selection, while at the same time allowing for the continued development and expansion of your shooting arsenal.

Learn to Shoot From Different Areas of the Floor

It is imperative that you develop the ability to shoot accurately from a variety of areas on the basketball floor. It's fine to have a few pet spots where you prefer to launch from, but if your goal is to become a top flight shooter/scorer, you must become functional throughout the entire scoring zone.

The reasons for cultivating an all around shooting game are plentiful. First, defenses, especially with the advances in scouting in recent years (even some junior high school games are taped and studied by opposing coaches), will always attempt to take you away from your shooting comfort zones. As such, the more comfort zones you develop the more of a scoring threat you will ultimately be.

Second, as an up and coming player, you're never exactly sure what position you'll play as you move up the ladder of competition. It is not uncommon for a high school center to find himself as a two guard in college. Sometimes the reverse is true, as a growth spurt may turn a player from a point guard to a power forward in one short year of high school. In either case, it's best to be prepared with a well-rounded shooting game.

Third, the game has evolved to where players have become very interchangeable on the offensive end of the floor. Motion and flex offences, both popular at all levels of basketball today, encourage players to position themselves at a variety of locations on the floor. It's not uncommon to witness seven footers stepping out on the perimeter launching (and making) 20 footers and back court players exploiting match-up advantages in the low post.

Finally, coaches at all levels of play have become proponents of the multi-faceted offensive ballplayer. The days of the one dimensional specialist are long gone in the basketball world. If you hope to receive playing time from this new breed of coach, possessing a diverse shooting repertoire is a necessity.

Develop a Go To Shot

There was a time in basketball history when the majority of top shooters and scorers possessed a signature shot, one that they could turn to when the heat was on and their team needed a bucket. A few that immediately come to mind are Oscar Robertson's baseline one-hander, Bernard King's turn around jump shot, and, of course, Kareem Abdul Jabbar's patented sky hook.

Unfortunately, players in today's game who own a reliable go to shot are few and far between. This should not be discouraging news for the aspiring shooters reading these pages, but instead viewed as an opportunity to gain the edge on the competition. Developing a solid go to shot will allow you to distinguish yourself as a consistent shot maker, someone who is capable of scoring points in bunches and who can be called upon in the clutch.

Once you've mastered the basics of good shooting, it's time to go about finding your go to shot. Start by feeling out which areas of the floor you're most comfortable in. For example, some players are at home in the corner near the baseline, while others operate more efficiently in the middle of the floor in and around the top of the key. Obviously, much will depend on your position, but if you show your coaches that you can score regularly from certain regions on the court, they will make allowances.

The next step, as always, is repetitive practice. From this hard, focused work, you're go to shot will begin to emerge. Once it presents itself, you must consistently hone it in a variety of settings (shooting by yourself, playing one-on-one, during full and half-court scrimmages, etc.). Before you know it, you will be using (and making) your go to shot when it counts in organized games.

Before closing this section, a brief word of caution. While working on your go to shot is important, you must not abandon the rest of your offensive game for the sake of it. A balanced scoring arsenal is always best. So by all means perfect and incorporate a go to shot. Just keep things in perspective.


Tom Emma has authored 5 previous books. All of them are great. I feel that his 2003 book, Peak Performance Training for Basketball, stands out. Warmup, stretching, strength training, nutrition, conditioning, plyometrics, and cross training are among the areas covered in this comprehensive book. I highly recommend this book to many of my athletes and fellow coaches. Please visit Tom's website, Power Performance, Inc. to view his other books.

Power Performance, Inc.
P.O. Box 1044
Manhasset, NY 11030


Our thanks to Human Kinetics for sending us some excellent coaching books. You can't beat the discounted price, less than $20.

Buy it, today!


Excellent video with thoughts and drills on organizing your practices. Learn from one of the greatest coaches of the game, Coach "K".
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"My son's high school coach gave him a copy of the book and he read it in two days. Now he is leading the effort to get himself a scholarship. The book is inspiring and effective for high school athletes."
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