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What Is a Jump Shot?

Basketball players who have a good jump shot often have the advantage over their opponents.
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  • Written By: Jim B.
  • Edited By: Jacob Harkins
  • Last Modified Date: 09 October 2014
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A jump shot is a type of basketball shot whereby a player leaps into the air and releases the ball before coming back down. It originated in the first half of the 20th century and is now the prevalent method of shooting used by players at all competitive levels. When properly executed, a jumper allows the offensive player to shoot over a defensive player, but it requires enough strength to get the ball to the rim without pushing off from the legs. Several variations of the jumper allow players to get the shot off in any circumstances.

Up until the creation of the jump shot, most basketball players used a set shot or push shot to get the ball to the rim, keeping their feet on the ground and using their legs to help push the ball to the basket. Several innovators began shooting jump shots in the 1930s and 40s, and the shot was popularized by Paul Arizin, who played for the National Basketball Association's Philadelphia Warriors in the 50s and 60s, and Rick Mount, a star at Purdue University in the late 60s. Although the set shot is still used in lower levels of play such as a youth league, the evolution of the game has pushed the jumper to the forefront of modern pro, college and high school basketball.

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The proper method of shooting a jump shot requires a player to elevate off the court by jumping off both feet. He or she should try to release the ball at the apex of his jump, both to elude a defenders' outstretched arms and to achieve maximum consistency for the shot. Proper form must be maintained when the shot is released. This means the player should have the body balanced and aligned with the basket with his or her eyes on the target and shooting hand elbow lined up with the basket. The non-shooting hand should support the ball. At the top of the jump, the ball should be released from the fingertips as the player maintains a follow through.

Any player who has perfected the jump shot will have an offensive advantage because of the ability to get the shot off in most circumstances. A shooter with a good jumper also forces the defense to guard more closely, which opens up the opportunity to drive to the basket for a higher percentage layup or slam dunk. Players must have enough strength in both the arms and wrists to attempt the shot from longer distances, which is why younger players generally begin by shooting set shots or close in jumpers.

Variations on the common jump shot allow a player to cause even more problems for the defense. A turnaround jumper comes when a player catches the ball with his basket and then turns to shoot over a defender in one quick motion. Another effective move is the fade away, which is when a player shoots a jumper while drifting backward away from the basket. It's an effective maneuver to keep a defender from blocking the shot, although it takes great skill to shoot it accurately.

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