The Science Behind the ‘Perfect’ Jump Shooting Form

Jump Shooting

Jump ShootingToday’s style of basketball puts considerable emphasis on jump shooting. It’s partly because of players like Stephen Curry, who can keep an opposing team at bay almost on his own with his jump shooting skills. This facet of the game is another major focus for most basketball camps, including

But, the jump shot, while useful, is somewhat unreliable. First, it’s a shot from a considerable distance, which makes the chances of making it slimmer compared to a layup. But, the secret to a reliable jump shooting lies in the player’s form — and how mechanically sound it is — according to science.

Too High, Too Quick

A jump shot is supposed to be difficult to block. Therefore, it must be released high and quick enough. ESPN’s Sports Science once analyzed the shooting form of Ray Allen to find out what makes it so successful. They found that Allen releases the ball at almost 9 feet off the ground, and it takes him .73 seconds to get a shot off. That’s typically way too high and too fast for a defender to properly contest the jumpshot and force a miss.

The Trajectory Game

Stephen Curry’s shot is considered ‘mathematically optimal’ by Noah Basketball’s John Carter. According to their findings, the most ideal entry angle for making a three-point shot is about 45 degrees. Curry’s shots enter the rim at an average of 46 degrees.

What this means is that Curry’s 3-pointers are shot at a steeper launch angle than most. When the ball’s arc is higher, it means the rim becomes ‘bigger’ as the ball falls through it. Curry is able to achieve this because he shoots the ball from above his head, which requires less physical effort from his arms and wrist. In addition, Curry’s release is much quicker — he gets a shot off in a mere 0.3 seconds.

Closing Thoughts

Let’s end this piece with something counterproductive: there’s no perfect jump shot. Every player has his own style. But, what matters most are three major points that affect a jump shot’s chances of going in. The ball must be released high and quick enough (to lessen a defender’s chances of bothering it), and at a steeper, scientifically optimal angle to make sure it enters the basket at its most ‘open’ point. Too sharp and the shoot misses, too high and the ball goes over the top.