An arc in basketball is the best way to shoot the basketball, as it gives the ball the best chance to go through the hoop. A higher arc shot creates a bigger target as the rim is largest, for the purpose of shooting a basketball, when the ball is dropped straight into it. That is not to say, however, that a player should shoot the ball as high as he can, however. Rather, a good player must shoot the ball so the arc is not too high and not too low.
Arc That Is Too High
Too much arc is an issue for a couple of reasons. Shooting an especially high arc shot takes more power to do so, making the shot inherently more difficult. When a shot is more difficult to take, the player will have a tougher time placing the ball exactly where he wants it to go. This means the ball may be short, long, or even be off target to the left or right.
Moreover, if the ball has a higher arc, then it must travel further on its descent. The further the ball travels downward, the more speed it picks up. A faster ball that strikes the rim will do so with more force, making a softer shot and impact less likely. Instead, the ball will be more likely to bounce off the rim and go in another direction.
Arc That Is Too Low
Just as in shooting the ball with too much arc, shooting the ball with too little arc is also a problem. This is because, as discussed before, the angle at which the ball approaches the rim essentially changes the size of the hoop. A basketball shot with a low arc, therefore, has a smaller mark to hit.
Even with a low arc shot, a player will still have a tough time achieving a soft shot. A low angle on a shot's arc means the player needs to apply enough force on the ball in order for it to reach the hoop in less time. Again, a ball shot with more force is going to hit the rim harder, making it more likely to bounce away.
The ideal arc for a shot results in the ball entering the rim at a 45-degree angle, 11 inches into the rim, or two inches past its center. This angle allows a shooter to get the ball on the rim softly while still giving him a larger area to shoot at. It also often results in a shot that hits the back of the rim on the inside of the hoop and drops directly through the net.
Achieving a 45-degree angle at the end of the shot's arc, however, changes depending on the shooter's height and where he is on the court. Shorter players need to shoot the ball higher, while taller players require a more shallow arc. Players closer to the basket will also have to shoot a higher arc shot than those further from the rim.