The best basketball players mix and match techniques to develop signature styles. Practice different techniques to get a feel for what works. Although you may not use some techniques often, you should practice them so that you feel confident to use them in crunch situations. During a game, try not to think too much about specific movements. Instead, visualize your target and let your practiced movements happen unconsciously.
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The jump shot is the most common shooting technique. To perform a jump shot properly, a player centers the shooting hand on the ball and aims it toward the net. The other hand guides the ball but does not contribute to the forward motion. The player raises the ball by bending the elbow of the shooting arm and then launches it forward by straightening that arm. The wrist of the shooting arm flicks the ball to add backspin, which helps the ball drops through the net. At the same time, the player jumps slightly to add lower-body power to the shot, increasing the distance.
A lay-up is a shot taken close to the net. When many players are competing for the ball near the net, a lay-up is an effective choice because it does not need to be entirely accurate. To perform a lay-up, a player bounces the ball off the backboard and into the net.
A dunk is not as common as other shots because players must jump high enough to push down the ball with force through the net -- a difficult feat. In the early days of basketball, dunks were illegal in professional games because they tended to damage the rim and backboard. The advent of spring suspension systems on basketball rims helped to minimize the chances of equipment damage, so the dunk is now a shooting option for professional players.
A hook shot is difficult because it requires a player to have perfect accuracy while not looking at the ball. Defending against a hook shoot is difficult, making it an effective maneuver. To perform a hook shot, a player angles himself so that his shooting hand is on the far side of his body, which helps to keep the ball away from an opponent. The hook shot consists of launching the ball over the head by hooking the elbow. When the hook shot is properly done, the ball flies high over the opponent and into the net.
Underhand shots are uncommon because defense against them is easy. Some players use underhand shots to perform a lay-up or to accomplish a shot at a difficult angle. Rarely, players will use an underhand shot to perform free throws, which are penalty shots taken directly in front of the net.