The Swish Method for Shooting a Basketball


Few sounds are more satisfying in the game of basketball than the swish of a net when the ball drops clean through the hoop. You need a fluid shooting technique and a lot of practice to regularly hear that noise. The "swish method" for shooting a basketball is based on a training concept by basketball coach Tom Nordland. The program combines basketball shooting fundamentals and suggests several new techniques.

The Swish Method

Nordland developed the swish method in 1989 while working at Apple Computers. Nordland claims that basketball shot percentages have gone down in professional and amateur games in recent years. His belief is that many coaches don't teach the correct style of shooting, and many players don't practice the right way. His Swish22 website suggests that the technique can improve scoring rates and offers a better way to coach shooting.

Up Force and Release

One of Nordland's main principles is using an "up force" in the jump shot. This is the natural energy created by jumping upward, with that force channeled through your arm hoist and hand roll. The swish method also prioritizes the release, aiming for a fluent "push and flop" rather than a flick or direct throw. Nordland recommends training close to the basket to master the arm and hand movements required to perform this shot before adding the leg spring to the shot from farther away


Your exact stance isn't as important as aligning the ball to the basket with your eyes, according to Nordland. Similarly, the position of your hands before you start the shot influences the smoothness of your shot. Your arms should be relaxed and loose with your forearms at around chest level. This gives you the space to create the full movement and enough time to generate momentum. Related to this idea is the concept of "repeatability" -- that you should be able to recreate the same arc and type of shot by letting your arms and hands follow the same motion every time.


You want to create enough momentum to get the ball to the basket so it drops at just the right angle. If you throw the ball too hard, you risk throwing a "brick" -- a flat shot that cannons off the rim or backboard. Though a high arc allows for a more vertical drop into the basket, in practice, the maximum effective angle is usually no more than 60 degrees, Angelo Armenti writes in "The Physics of Sports." Nordland also suggests aiming between 50 and 60 degrees.