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Shoot for the Stars

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Nancy Wilsey from Bloomington, Illinois submitted these great ideas to help with basketball shooting skills.  3-8


Background: Here are a few strategies for teaching your students basic basketball shooting skills. These ideas have worked really well with our students over the years.

How We Do It: Every student is given a basketball and directed to do the following “warm-up” activities -

(1) Hand Position: Introduce the students to the proper hand position for shooting a basketball. After that, have the students lay on their backs and “shoot” the ball up in the air to themselves. They should be using the proper hand position and the ball should have a backward spin or rotation as it leaves the fingertips of the shooting hand.

(2) B-E-E-F: Next have the students stand up and pick a spot on the wall to shoot to. Before shooting, tell the students about the “BEEF” acronym typically used to help remind individuals about the four elements of a good shot. These four elements or cues are:

B = Balance, feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent
E = Eyes on the basket (or shooting spot) and bring the ball above eye level. The ball is actually shot by looking at the target while the ball is above the student’s line of sight.
E = Elbows in
F = Follow through

Once the students have been taught this information, they put this knowledge into action. The students are given 2-3 minutes to see how many times they are able to hit an imaginary target/spot on the gym wall. The teacher will circulate around the gym to reinforce the cues and to offer encouragement to those who need it.


(3) Groups of Three: We then divide the students into groups of three and do a triange shooting drill. This is done by having the students form a triangle and “shoot” the ball to a teammate. The third student will watch to see if the shooter is using the BEEF cues. Or if the students are younger, this person will actually call out the letters (B-E-E-F) as the shooter responds.



- Basketballs
- Cones
- Polyspot “stars” or regular polyspots

Set-Up: Divide the students into groups of three (or keep the same groups as in the previous activity). Each group lines up behind a cone at one end of the sidelines of the basketball count. The stars or polyspots are scattered at various distances from the available basketball goals.


How to Play: The first person in line dribbles to one of the stars. He takes a shot at the basket. If the shot is made, he earns the star and takes it back to the team. The star is then placed under the team’s cone. The next person in line then goes and shoots for a star. Play until the majority of stars are gone. You can add up who has the most stars at the end or say any team with five or more stars are “winners.” Replace the stars, rotate the teams to the next cone, and start another round.

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