Basketball: Release the Ball Early for Better Jump Shots

Dick Moss, Editor, Physical Education

A Release Early in the Jump (L) Imparts More Energy Into the Shot Than One at the Apex 
of the Jump (R)
A Release Early in the Jump (L) Imparts More Energy Into the Shot Than One at the Apex of the Jump (R)
When taking outside jump shots, many players reduce their shooting effectiveness by releasing the ball too late in the jump. That is, they wait until they have reached the
maximum height of their jump before releasing the ball.

In fact, a better practice is to release the ball early in the jump. Here's why.

Release Early in the Jump
A shot that is released early in the jump is released when the upward forces of the jump are at their greatest. That's because jump velocity is highest as the feet leave the ground. However, velocity declines as the athlete approaches the top of the jump, eventually reaching "0" at the apex, at which point the athlete drops back to the ground.

If the shot is taken early, this higher jump velocity is imparted to the ball, allowing the player to use the arm and wrist more for directing the shot than for applying power. This results in greater consistency and range, and a shot with greater arc. That's because it is the legs that are providing much of the power.

On the other hand, if the shot is taken at or near the apex of the jump, the speed of the ball is at or near zero at release. Even though the shot is taken at a greater height, more of the power for the shot must come from the arm and wrist, which aren't as strong as the legs.

If the focus of the arm and wrist is applying power rather than directing the ball, accuracy will suffer..

This technique is most useful for open outside shots, rather than inside shots in which players may need to hang longer in order to avoid shot blockers.

Reference: Tom Nordland, "The ABCs's of Great Shooting."

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