To Turn or Not to Turn

Basketball Shooting Form Debate

Turning Your Feet or Square Up

Last week I was having a conversation with a parent about jump shooting and we got on the subject of what you should do with your feet. In other words, should you square them to the basket or turn them on a 45 degree angle to the side. The parent was saying that as a young athlete he turned his feet and that he sees great jump shooters nowadays turn their feet but that many jump shooting coaches that he taken his son to in NJ teach the players to point all ten toes to the rim.  Asking, “why do these coaches continue to teach jump shooting this way? As a jump shooting coach in New Jersey, I am of the mindset that players should turn their feet on their jump shot slightly on the set up but even more so on the finish. With that in mind, the only answers that I can come up with is that they just have not as coaches evolved with the game of basketball or they are unclear about what they mean when they use the phrase square up.

Why Basketball Players Should Turn Their Feet

It is hard to watch a basketball game that feature great jump shooters like Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant and walk away from that game saying that those players square up to the rim on their jump shot. In fact, not only do they turn their feet when setting up to shooting, they finish with their feet even more turned at the end. Turning you feet has a number of advantages for a jump shooter. In a game where players are more physically developed and actually have lat muscles, squaring to the basket can put your shooting shoulder and elbow roughly three or more inches outside your target. This being the case, players are also taught to tuck their elbow in as a way to compensate for the offset. If you have ever shot this way, it is highly uncomfortable. Anyone who has ever shot a basketball knows that discomfort in your jumper can and will produce misses. To avoid this discomfort and line your shooting shoulder and hip with the basket, all you need to do is turn on an angle. This position is far more comfortable, accurately in line with the rim and, by the way, your elbow is now in by virtue of the turn. From this point, all you have to do is shoot the basketball straight.

Why Coaches Use the Phrase “Square Up”

So why do coaches still teach their players to square themselves to the rim? Answers vary, but my only guess is that they were taught this way and as a result continue to teach these antiquated methods. The other thought is that maybe the coaches are unclear on what they mean by squaring up. I have come across many basketball players who believe they are squaring themselves to the basket and are actually turned slightly to start and even more so to finish. That being said, maybe the phrase itself needs a little bit of explaining, especially when it comes to teaching the jump shot properly.

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