When I was 5 years old and learning the game of basketball, one of the first things I had drilled into me was B.E.E.F., and not the kind served on wax or stacks.
Balance, eyes, elbow, follow through. These are the four steps of a jump shot, and understanding and mastering them is key to becoming a successful shooter.
The first step in B.E.E.F. is to ensure you are fully balanced. Your feet should be shoulder width apart and both flatly on the ground. Your legs should be sturdy with knees slightly bent, and your upper body should be in line with your lower body. You want the entire shot to begin and end within an imaginary cylinder that extends upward around you such that when you go into your shooting motion and release the ball, you jump straight up and down, landing where you took off from.
When you watch high-level basketball, you will see players fade away, shoot off one leg and pull the trigger while off balance. After plenty of practice, you can balance yourself enough even when not perfectly centered like you ideally should be. But when you’re starting out and when you’re trying to get down the mechanics of jump shooting, having good balance is an essential fundamental.
Your eyes should be locked on the target, which is the basket, unless you’re aiming for the glass for a bank. Basketball is a very fast sport, and events happen in split-second moments. But when you’re shooting the ball, you have to have the hoop as your primary focus.
It is recommended that you look at the back of the iron on the spot just slightly inside the rim, or whatever part of the rim is facing right across from when you’re shooting from on the floor. You need to get the ball over the lip of the cylinder for it to go in, so make sure you’re not aiming for the part of the rim closest to you.
The second E in B.E.E.F. stands for elbow. When rising up for the shot, your dominant/shooting hand should be directly under the ball, while your non-dominant/guiding hand should be on the side, holding it in place on your opposite palm but letting the shooting hand do the heavy lifting. At the same time, the elbow of your shooting arm should be directly beneath the ball, forming a right angle where your arm bends.
A common mistake people make is shooting with their elbow sticking out. This will not allow you as much control over the trajectory of the ball and messes with the strength you generate with your shooting hand and wrist. If you want your shoot to go straight to the net, you need to keep your elbow properly in place through the stroke.
Jump shooting power comes from the legs, but your hands are what guide the ball through the net. It is important to complete the full range of motion when shooting the ball, and this includes following through after the ball has been released.
When you are at the apex of your jump and ready to let the ball go, flick your wrist to send it toward the hoop. You want the ball to go upward first as it needs to get up and over the rim to go through the iron, so shooting up and using your hand to send it that way is crucial. Extend your arms and wrists completely to send the ball into the air, then dip your hand in the cookie jar, as it is often described. If you shoot the ball properly through the entire motion, your arm will be extended and your wrist will be bent in a way that it appears you’re reaching onto the top shelf to grab a cookie from its jar, hence the phase.
B.E.E.F. Makes You a Better Player
It doesn’t matter what age you are or at what level you play: if you follow these steps, your jump shooting will noticeably improve. If you are someone who has shot with poor fundamentals for years, it will feel strange for a while. Your elbow will seem jammed into your body when you push it under the ball rather than out like a chicken wing. It may be weird for you to have your feet even with your shoulders rather than pulled together or spread wide apart. But after a while, it will become natural, and you’ll see a huge difference in your success.