The Reproducible Three-Point Basketball Shot

The Reproducible Three-Point Basketball Shot Ver. 2.0.2

Jack E Johnston


Revised 2/1/2019

Copyright 2018

I was an out-side shooter (The Three-Point Shot had not yet been invented) in high school in Northern Wisconsin.  My Junior Varsity Coach told the team in the pregame huddle “Get the ball to Jack, he never missis”.  I learned to shoot the Three-Point shot from a Boy Scout Magazine article.  The main message was “Choose your marks on the court and teach yourself to make baskets from these marks”.  After high school, military service in LBJ’s War in Vietnam, college and a few years into my career, I showed up at tryouts for a local recreation team.  I was a bit shorter than the other players, but when I shot my first shot in over twelve years, from the Three-Point Arc, the ball only hit net on the way through the basket. 

Having studied physics in college and now working at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the nation’s primer physic lab, I perfected my Three-Point shot at the local club where I played in the pickup basketball games applying my knowledge of physics.  Most of the players at the club were taller than I was so I invented the “Lob-Shot” so they could not block my shot from the Three-Point Arc. 

Checklist for a 100 Percent Shooting Accuracy

  1. Remove all momentum (linear and angular) from the ball before launching the ball.  Momentum from moving down court, sideways or rotating is terminated before launch.  Not removing momentum will result in the ball going left, right or long.  Or shoot all the shots from ‘a Mark’ with the same momentum; this is more difficult to reproduce than removing the momentum before the shot. 
  2. When shooting from the side of the basket and either still moving up or down the court; adjust the line of the shot to compensate for the momentum that will still be on the ball.  This is similar to Trap Shooting with a Shot Gun; the target is led to compensate for the distance of the shot. 
  3. When shooting the basket and still moving toward the basket; either change the forward motion to upward vertical motion (jump straight up) or shoot for the backboard directly behind the basket.  This will prevent the shot from going long from the forward linear momentum. 
  4. The Set Shot: Align both feet square to the line to the basket.  The shot is then straight ahead.  Being not square to the line often results in the ball going left or right of the basket. This is especially important when shooting from the corner. Think like shooting a rifle; use the sights on the barrel to line up the shot, in this case your feet placed square to the basket aligns the shot and using the Arc as a reference provides the shot alignment.
  5. Shoot the ball on a trajectory established for each ‘mental mark’ chosen on the court.  A consistent trajectory will result in the ball going a specific distance from the launch point.  You do not have to see the basket (hand in your face), just shoot the ball on the established correct trajectory. Think like an artillery piece; set the angle of the shot, use the same power for each ‘mental mark’ on the court and the ball will go the same distance each shot.
  6. Shoot a continuous arm motion; not a two part motion, Arm and Wrist, as in an inside the Paint Jump Shot. 
  7. Shooting a High Arc: The Lob-Shot will clear outstretched arms and hands or taller players.  The higher the Arc to the Basket the higher the percentage of shots made. This is due to the ball having downward vertical momentum so if it strikes the rim it will still go through the hoop.  
  8. Practice from each of the chosen marks on the floor from the Three-Point Arc to Center Court.  This is similar to learning to play a guitar; practice, practice, practice will train the Muscle Memory part of the Brain to shoot on the proper trajectory.
  9. Minimize the additional velocity imparted to the ball with high jumps.  The feet should either come down in the same position before the launch or just a few inches toward the basket.  Muscles can get tired so the fewer muscles used to make the shot the more reproducible will be the shot. 
  10. On Jump, “Rotate and Shoot Shots”:  either stop the rotation of the ball before the shot or put a backspin on the ball.  This will prevent the ball from spinning off the hoop if contacted and give the ball a spin that will direct it down through the basket.
  11. Spend a lot of time in the Weight Room to strengthen Arm, Leg and Foot Muscles.

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