6 Techniques and Drills for Developing an Elite Shooter

Pick up some new shooting tips, techniques and drills from legendary basketball coach Don Meyer. The former Northern State University head coach produced more than 900 wins during his illustrious coaching career. In this week’s skill development feature, learn about form shooting, proper footwork, shooting progressions, and a variety of shooting drills that Coach Meyer has used over the course of his Hall of Fame career.

Wrist Extensions

Start out by making wrinkles with your wrists. Put both hands on the floor. Pretend you are carrying a waiter’s tray. Hold that position for 10 seconds. The more you can lay your wrists back, the better your range and touch will be. Now point your wrists toward you on the floor (backwards). Hold for another 10 count.

Follow Through

Next, lay on your back without a basketball. Get your elbow next to you on the floor and then make a shooting motion. Be sure to get that elbow down and in tight. Then get your hands up and hold your follow through. Make your hand relaxed and form a “V” with your fingers.


Shooting Progression

This is a “lay on your back” shooting drill. Get your elbows on the floor and next to your body. Shoot the ball up in the air. Pop it up and then catch it. Try to get the ball 10 feet up in the air if you can. Hold your follow through. Now retrace backwards and lay the elbow back down on the floor. First try this with a partner who can catch the ball for you, then do it on your own.

Note: This was a drill that Hall of Famer Jerry West performed frequently throughout his career.

Shooting in Place

Now shoot the ball in place. Every shooter has a shooting pocket or launching pad. How quickly you can get into your shooting pocket is very important. Many players dip the ball (sometimes to their kneecaps) and will have a hard time getting off good shots against quality players. They will often strip the ball or pressure it. Therefore, it’s important to the get the ball into your shooting pocket as soon as possible when taking a shot.

Shooting Drills

Each player should have a ball. At the same basket, each player will shoot it. The goal here is to get the ball as high as we can. Don’t shoot at the rim. Instead, look to hit the top of the glass or side of the glass. Bend your knees and sit into your game.

Get the ball up. Now shoot a bank shot and look to hit the top near corner of the basket. Get the ball in your pocket right away and don’t dip it. We’re looking to swish every shot. We don’t want to be short on a bank shot. The angle we want to bank at should be between the box and the first hash.

Tip: Always hold your follow through. According to Coach Meyer, if you do anything at all when it comes to shooting, make sure you hold the follow through. Remember, you can make a million shots in practice, but you need technique to make them in a game.


To be a quality scorer, you must get your feet ahead of your hands. It all comes down to footwork. That’s a perfect example of why NBA champion Richard Hamilton is so good. He’s got tremendous footwork. Some players can shoot, but they can’t score. For this exercise, the goal is to make 2-3 shots in a row from close range and then keep moving back once you hit them.

Tip: There’s a shooting hand and a balance hand. We don’t want the balance hand to interfere with a shot (AKA “Balance Hand Drag”).

Meanwhile, you must be mentally tough to be a scorer. If you miss 5-6 shots in a row, you have to believe that you’re going to score on the next attempt.

Target: Shoot for the back half of the basket. You’ve got nine inches to work with. When shooting from the top of the circle, you’ve got one degree in either direction to make it. That’s why it’s so important that we keep the ball straight. Keep it straight and to the back half of the basket.


The previous clips can be seen on Championship Productions’ DVD “Don Meyer: Secrets to Building a Championship Basketball Program.” To check out more videos in the Don Meyer collection, click here.


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