STR8 Shooter: ‘Feet Must Match Elbow’

by John Townsend / @JTshootingcoach

Who has heard the saying, “Toes to the target”? Or, “Square your body to the basket”? Both teaching points have been drilled into players and coaches’ psyches for years. Hey, I was one of those coaches trying to drill it into player’s heads. But I was wrong. I am going to do everything I can to convince you that “The Feet Must Match the Elbow” (something I learned from Dean Demopoulos).

A player’s relationship between their feet and their respective shooting elbow is of HUGE importance. This relationship is what allows a shooter to line up their shooting arm and wrist with the basket. Most basketball players have a tendency to lift the basketball up to their chin, or their nose, or their face, or their forehead and sometimes even to the top of their forehead. This causes the players shooting elbow to stick out or “pop” out. Depending upon how far to the middle of the body the basketball goes will determine how far a player will need to turn his/her feet to allow the shooting arm and shooting wrist to continue to line up with the basket.

The most important point in ALL of what I have said and want to say is: The shooting arm and shooting wrist must line up with the target (the basket). Your body will have a natural tendency to turn or twist to allow the body to line up the shooting arm and wrist. Having said that, there is a point where a player, a coach or a parent has to put their foot down and not allow the shooter to lift the ball to the non-shooting side of their body. A right handed shooter will not have success shooting if he/she lifts the shot and releases the shot from the left side of their head. (I have worked with NBA players who do this.) Your body can only twist so far to line up the shot. A change to the middle is the minimum such shooters will have to do to find success in shooting.

The varying degrees in which a shooter’s body turns will depend on where they lift the basketball to in their jump shot to begin the thrusting motion toward the basket. The closer to the middle of the body, the more turn you will want. The more the lift is to the outside of the face, or beside the head, the less the shooter’s feet will turn. PLEASE, try this today, in your driveway or at the park. Let me know what you think. It’s going to work really well if you combine this with my article from last week. (Hand in the middle of the basketball along with a straight wrist.)

Set your DVRs this week for some NBA Playoff games and put this theory to the test. Take a look at three of the four teams in the conference finals (the fourth conference finalist had yet to be determined at the time of this writing– Ed.). Take a look at Derrick Rose and Kyle Korver of the Chicago Bulls. Watch how much Rose’s body twists on his jump shot. Keep lining it up DRose! Korver starts with his feet pointing to the right.

Miami. Wow so many players, who should you watch? Chris Bosh will get a few 17-20-foot face up jumpers. Pause the DVR and take a look at the slight turn left in his feet. Also, James Jones, I love his shot. Watch his hips twist when he’s lifting the ball up. (He’s a great example of last weeks “Hammer” motion in his shot.) Dallas, obviously Dirk, he is a prime example of turning your hips to line up your shooting arm.

I hope I have given you a lot to think about as well as motivated you to go get some shots up. Make sure your feet match your elbow!

Do your best to be a STR8 SHOOTER and I will check back here at SLAMonline next week where I hope to talk some more about shooting.

With over 22 years of experience between the CBA, D-League and NBA, Townsend can be reached at his website and on Twitter at @JTshootingcoach.