Is the Most Common Shooting Advice WRONG?

The most common piece of advice given to all aspiring basketball players, from young to old, is to square up to the basket whenever shooting.

I'm here to tell you today that squaring up when shooting is probably the biggest myth in basketball. But because of its popularity and overuse, its been widely accepted and rarely argued against.

However, what's the rationale behind squaring up? There is probably two reasons why squaring up gives many coaches the 'thumbs up' to preach it:


  1. Better Ball Alignment
  2. Improved Accuracy


Upon closer analyzing and with my experience in shooting and coaching my 12U team, squaring up doesn't help either!

In terms of alignment, squaring up allows the ball to be set between the eyes, below and above the eyes. This does indeed create a straight alignment to the rim (at first), but this doesn’t give your body an easy, natural release to the rim! Anatomically, your body has two shoulder girdles that come out laterally from the rib cage. This creates controversy over the squared stance because recommending to square implies that you should have shoulders that come straight out of your chest! Seriously! Because that way, releasing the ball will not involve any sort of strain. But obviously, we were not built like that. When we place the ball in front of
the middle of the face while in this detrimental stance, we place so much tension and strain on our
shooting shoulder, elbow and wrist in order for the shooting hand to be underneath the ball. Without strain, your shooting hand will be more to the side of the ball, which is obviously not what we want when shooting at the basket in front of you. As well, your shooting follow through will have your shooting arm veer off to the side! This is actually normal because the best way to release the ball without tension is to just push your hand off to the side of your body. This places the least amount of strain. However, the basket is in front of you, not to the right or left of you!

What to consider:

Ultimately, constantly shooting the ball with shoulder, elbow and wrist strain will decrease accuracy because you will be fighting against your body instead of working with it. Please do
not bluntly follow the squaring up dogma! Instead, we recommend to turn/open your body and have your feet staggered: shooting-side foot in front of the other foot. With this stance, you can easily align the shooting hand (with the ball) and eye with the basket before releasing the ball!

It's simple to learn and will feel much more instinctive and easy because you will now be working with your body to instead of against it.To do this, first stand in a squared, parallel stance. Then, turn your body counter clockwise by stepping with your right foot forward for right-handers, or clockwise by stepping with your left foot forward for left-handers. With the ball in your
hands, you can now put it into a comfortable, natural setting position with no strain whatsoever. Then, the ball can simply be aligned with the shooting eye and basket this way!

Try this out and watch you and your players' shooting percentage soar!

Michael Tran


Aligning the Ball with an Opened Stance