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Basketball Shot Types

In basketball, there are only two ways to score points - with field goals and free throws. In both cases, a player must shoot the ball into his team's net. This may sound easy enough, but players on the opposing team are there to stop them. As a result, players have developed an arsenal of shot types to use in various game situations to give them the best chance at making baskets. Here is a list of the basic shot types in basketball:

Table of Contents


A layup is the most basic shot type in basketball. Layups utilize the backboard by bouncing off of it before going into the net. On a layup, players approach the basket and lightly bounce the ball off the backboard with an overhand or underhand motion. As you approach the basket, you should pick up your dribble and get ready to jump towards the basket. When performing a layup, you pick either the left or right side of the hoop. As a player, you should practice making layups from both sides of the basket because you never know when side is being guarded by defensive players. When you jump, make sure to use the backboard and try to bounce it into the hoop.

PRO TIP: A layup that doesn't use the backboard is called a finger roll because the ball rolls of the fingers of a ball-handler's hands and into the basket.


A dunk, or slam dunk, is a type of shot where the ball-handler leaps into the air and emphatically slams the ball into the net. Dunking requires a player to jump higher than the rim, which is 10ft above the floor in most basketball courts. It is very difficult to dunk, as many are not tall enough or can't jump that high. If you can dunk, it is a great way to finish off a drive to the basket. Dunks are known to get your team pumped up as it is a great feat to dunk in a game.

REMEMBER: When dunking, you must be careful to avoid being called for a travel. When you pick up your dribble you are allowed to take two steps before your pivot foot is established.

Jump Shots

A jump shot in basketball is exactly what it sounds like. On a jump shot, the shooter will jump into the air as he releases the ball from his hands. Jumping helps the shooter get a height advantage over the defensive player who is guarding him. Players practice jump shots frequently, so jumping also helps with the timing of the shot. As a player, you can utilize jump shots from anywhere on the court. To take a jump shot, a player should plant both feet and then jump. When they are at the highest point of their jump, they should release the ball towards the basket. Having a good jump shot takes a lot of practice and good technique. It can take years to perfect a jump shot.

Hook Shots

A hook shot in basketball is an overhand shot, typically made with one hand. Hook shots can be made while the shooter is facing the net directly or at a sideways angle. As a player, you should utilize hook shots when inside the three-point line near the lane or when you're posting up. One player who utilized hook shots all the time was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He popularized the shot in the 70's.

Bank Shots

A bank shot in basketball is a type of shot that relies on the backboard. On a bank shot, the ball bounces off the backboard before going into the net. As a player, you should practice bank shots because they are sometimes a higher percentage shot than a jump shot. Learning to use the backboard as a tool is critical for mastering the bank shot.


A tip-in in basketball is a reaction to a missed shot rather than a shot type. If a shot is missed and the ball bounces off the rim, it's legal for anyone to try and tip the ball into the basket. As a player, you need to have a quick reaction to make a tip-in. Tall players such as power forwards and centers are especially good at tip-ins due to their height.

REMEMBER: No player can touch the hoop or any part of the net while the ball is on it or moving through the net. This is called basket interference and it's a violation that results in a turnover.

Free Throws

A free throw is way for teams to score points after a foul is called on the opposing team. For a free throw, a players feet must be on the ground until the ball is released. It is essentially a jump shot without the jump. It requires you to use more of your upper body since you can't jump to propel the ball towards the basket.

The Backboard

The backboard is a piece of equipment in basketball that is used by players on various types of shots. Backboards are especially useful on bank shots and layups. As a player, you should use the backboard to aim and frame your shot.

Basketball Backboard


A swish in basketball is a shot that goes into the net without touching any part of the hoop or backboard. It is called a swish because it makes a swish-like sound as it goes through the net if you listen closely.


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