Size can give players a distinct advantage on the basketball court. But one aspect of the sport that doesn't benefit from additional size is shooting technique. Having big hands won't make you a better shooter. Shaquille O'Neal had a famously large set of hands, but his 52.7 career free-throw shooting percentage prompted NBA opponents to purposely send him to the foul line late in games, which became known as the "Hack-a-Shaq" strategy. Proper technique, including correct hand positioning on the ball, is far more essential to shooting accuracy than hand size.
Accurate shooting starts with your shooting stance. Position your feet shoulder-width apart with your right foot slightly ahead of your left foot if you're right-handed and vice versa if you're left-handed. Bend your knees slightly and place your weight on the balls of your feet. Make sure your feet, hips and shoulders are pointing at, or are square to, your target. Your target is the rim if you're attempting a swish or the spot on the backboard where you'll bank your shot.
Having small hands won't hurt your shot if you use proper technique. Let the basketball rest only in your shooting hand. Position your shooting hand underneath the ball. Place your non-shooting hand on the side of the ball to keep the ball balanced in your shooting hand. Spread out the fingers in your shooting hand and curve them slightly to form the shape of the ball. Position the ball to rest only on your fingertips and pads; it shouldn't touch your palm. Hold the ball at chest height or slightly higher on your natural hand's side of the body. Place your elbow comfortably below the ball.
Hand size doesn't impact the distance on your shot, either. Your legs supply the power to propel the ball to the rim or backboard. Extend your thighs upward while keeping the balls of your feet on the court when shooting free throws. Leap straight up and release the ball near the peak of your jump on jump shots. To increase your shooting range, enhance your strength in your legs, abdomen, triceps, shooting wrist and forearm. Shooting hundreds of jumpers each day will strengthen your forearms, legs and wrists. Try shooting a weighted ball and lifting hand and leg weights, too.
Release and Follow-Through
When releasing the basketball, extend your shooting hand forward and high in the air toward your target. Follow through until your shooting arm is straight. Snap your shooting wrist to create backspin that helps the ball "kiss" softly off the rim or backboard, improving its chances of bouncing into the basket. Your non-shooting hand should finish next to your shooting hand in your completed shooting motion. Again, hand size won't boost your shot's distance or arc. Upward force generated by your legs will provide the power, or start your shooting motion at a lower position, such as slightly below chest height.
Jeff Smith spent eight years as a reporter and sports editor before working for 15 years as a copywriter and editorial manager at Awana, one of the world's largest children's ministries. Today he operates Write for Your Cause, an editorial service, and writes sports articles for the "Daily Herald."