5 Basketball Shooting Drills with Erica Wheeler
Ready to make more baskets? Watch pro baller Erica Wheeler demonstrate five basketball shooting drills to help improve accuracy and reaction time in play.
How important is training to pro basketballers like Erica Wheeler? As a point guard for the LA Sparks, she has to be fast, agile and mentally focused in high-pressure moments, so she can seize any opportunity to score for her team. Wheeler relies on basketball shooting drills to perfect her moves and her mindset: “You have to train your mind. And how do you train your mind? Consistently doing something the same way and doing it harder and harder and getting better and better. With time you become more talented because you become more consistent.”
Ready to sink some buckets? Learn how to improve your ball shooting skills with these five basketball drills:
Video: 5 Basketball Drills to Improve Shooting with Erica Wheeler
For players at every level in basketball, ball shooting drills are more effective the more frequently you practice them. Wheeler’s dedication to training comes from first-hand experience of seeing the benefits on the court: “I think with practice comes muscle memory. My body knows what it's going to do before I even tell it to do it, because I've been doing it so long.”
Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of each drill:
1. JUMP SERIES
Game play goals: Balance is crucial to a good jump shot. This drill hones your balance for jumping, landing, and then exploding into a good shot.
- Stand at the free throw line with the ball in your hand.
- Start with a 180° jump to shoot in both directions, then a 360° jump to shoot in both directions.
- Each time you land, explode into your next shot as quickly and forcefully as you can without losing your balance.
How many: 5 sets of each jump shot in both directions
2. CURL SERIES FROM CORNER
Game play goals: Shooting off of a curl is a basic shot that every player should have in their bag of tricks. This drill improves footwork, collection of the ball off a pass, and exploding up into a jump shot off of the run.
- Starting in the corner, sprint up the 3-point line to the wing, where a coach or training partner will pass you the ball.
- For your first shot, catch and shoot.
- For your second shot, once you catch the pass do a shot fake then rip and attack the baseline to finish at the rim.
- For your third shot, shot fake, rip and attack the baseline, then step back to shoot.
How many: Make 8 baskets of each shot
3. DUCK-IN SERIES
Game play goals: This drill helps you practice posting up in a hurry and really demanding the ball in the middle of the paint.
- Begin in a relaxed stance on the block. From there, forcefully “duck-in” the middle of the key and demand the ball from your coach. Once they pass it to you catch it high and keep it high with elbows out. Keep your back to the basket so the offense cannot see the ball.
- Finish weakside for shot 1.
- Repeat the duck-in, fake weakside and come back to strongside for shot 2.
- Repeat again; this time shimmy and finish weakside for shot 3.
How many: Make 8 baskets per drill per side
4. 3-SHOT REACTION
Game play goals: In a game you’re rarely going to get the exact same shot twice. Practicing shots in different rhythms will help you react with the right moves in live situations.
- Begin on the block and “duck-in” the middle of the key to receive the basketball for a shot.
- Attack across the middle or fake and come back strongside depending on what your coach calls out (middle or counter).
- Relocate to the corner and lift for a wing catch. Attack middle or back to baseline depending on what your coach calls out (middle or baseline).
- Return to the corner and lift for a wing catch-and-shoot 3.
How many: 10 shots per side
5. BAD PASS 3’s
Game play goals: Bad passes happen more often than perfect passes in games. When you know how to reset your shot and get lined up out of a bad pass, you can be a more agile shooter.
- Start in the corner.
- Your coach will throw a bad pass. Try to catch the pass to make a shot. Move your feet to get behind the ball and keep your motion as smooth as possible, locking in on your mechanics.
- Repeat the drill in the opposite corner, both wings, and the top of the key.
How many: Make 5 baskets in each of 5 spots
Shooting for Greatness: Wheeler’s Tips for Basketball Success
Decades of experience don’t stop Wheeler from seeking out new exercises and strategies to learn from: “I don't close my mind to anything. When it comes to basketball, you can elevate your game in so many ways, whether it's dribbling, whether it's how to read the game, whether it's a simple drill to tighten up your handling.”
Most importantly, Wheeler stays positive by celebrating the small victories as well as the big ones and finding the silver lining in setbacks when they do happen:
“Always give a pat on the back, because at the end of the day nobody's a real loser if you're going hard. You got to take some losses, but if you’re competing and you're doing it at the highest level you can, you're not losing. You're just getting better.”
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