Updated: Nov 24, 2020
Many players ask the question; "Where do I aim when I shoot?"
This is a very good question, one with no definite answer, however.
Many highly regarded coaches around the world have very different opinions on what to aim at when shooting. Different parts of the ring, the space in the middle, the net, etc.
This can cause confusion for players.
As a coach, my normal response to players is;
"Whatever works for you. There are many different spots you can aim at, you have to find which works best for you."
I will then move on to give players a number of different options and encourage them to find what is comfortable and most effective for them through a number of drills.
But what are the options?
When working with players we will go through 5 main options for aiming their shot. Let’s take a look at each one individually.
Front Of The Rim
Aiming at the front of the rim is the simplest option, when you see the hoop, focus on the front middle of the rim, but, if you hit your target you will miss your shot short.
The terminology may then change to, Aim just above the front of the rim so that the ball goes just over the rim and into the basket rather than hitting the front of the rim.
Back Of The Rim
Aiming at the back of the rim seems to be a common option taught by many coaches. You are focusing on the middle back of the rim, trying to hit the inside of it.
If you shoot the ball with good backspin and on target, the ball should hit the rim and come back into the basket.
Middle of the Basket
Aiming at the space in the middle of the basket allows for greater room for error as it’s a much bigger target. Meaning that whether the shot is slightly long/short/off to the side, you still have a chance of making the bucket.
However, over the years I have come to realize that having such a big target area can lead to inconsistent shooting.
The Net Diamond is the back of the net where the small diamonds connect to the bigger ones.
If you hit your target exactly it will result in a swish. With the front rim or back rim method, a perfect shot can still result in a miss. I feel it also gets better results than aiming for the middle of the basket because there is still a specific target to shoot for.
Follow The Finger
A different option here your main focus isn't on the rim, instead, you focus on your fingertip, more specifically, your index fingertip. You are seeing the ball release from it, and the motion of the fingertip going over and into the basket.
The path the ball will follow in the air is directly related to how it releases from your fingertips. Your index finger is generally the finger that carries on the line of your arm the straightest.
What to make of all of this?
I am fully aware that this hasn’t really answered the question of “Where to aim when shooting the basketball?”
As I said at the start, this isn't a one size fits all thing. It is about trial and error, with the different options, and find which works best for you as an individual player.