A Shooting Exercise to Learn the Law about, “An Object in Motion…”

A Shooting Exercise to Learn the Law about, “An Object in Motion…”

I had a revelation about 8-10 months ago when I was out shooting for fun at a neighbor’s basket. The thought came into my head that “An Object in Motion tends to stay in motion until acted upon by an unbalanced force.” This old law of physics I learned in high school came out of the blue these decades later. When I Googled the phrase “An object in motion…” I discovered it’s called “Newton’s First Law of Motion.” The basketball corollary I’d like to add is, “A BASKETBALL IN MOTION AND IN LINE WITH A BASKET tends to stay in motion and in line until acted upon by an unbalanced force.”

The point is that the longer the ball is in motion and in line, the more accurate will be your shooting. The concepts of momentum and inertia come into play here, too. One way to experience this law is to shoot early in the jumping motion (or down-up motion of a free throw or set shot). Most great shooters I’ve seen shoot on the way up, very early in the body/leg motion. If you hesitate, then you have to re-start the motion from where you stopped (the Set Point usually), and accuracy is lessened.


Ideally at a wall that’s free from wires, overhangs, doors, windows, etc., shoot in different ways and see what works best. Pick a spot on the wall so you can get a feel for accuracy. Also, have the Set Point in line with the eye, either below the eyes for younger players, or above the eyes for stronger players and let’s assume you’re shooting on the way up.

Now bring the ball up in different ways to the Set Point and shoot. Bring it up off line from the right, like up in line with the ear or shoulder, then get it to the Set Point and shoot. Notice how you have to “create” accurate direction from the Set Point and beyond. Now bring it up the left side to the S/P and shoot, noticing the same thing. Now bring it up in line with the shooting eye for as long as possible and shoot. Notice if your accuracy is greater, if it isn’t easier to hit the target line.


Now, instead of shooting on the way up, bring the ball to the S/P and HESITATE before shooting and see what happens. Even if you bring the ball up in alignment with eye and basket, notice that you have to CREATE accuracy FROM the Set Point. The momentum, the inertia, gained from shooting in one motion, from the legs, is lost. You have to start over, and it’s easier to push or pull or throw the ball off line.


If you catch the ball in the general area of the shooting pocket (Set Point), it’s a natural thing, in my opinion, to want to “dip” the ball down and back up. This is the instinctive way our bodies have to get the object in motion and in line. Shoot some shots from the S/P without dipping and see how your accuracy and consistency are. I’ll bet you’ll feel kind of lost as far as direction. Sure, you can do this perfectly some of the time, but it’s very easy to lose the target. Then shoot again on the way up and see what that feels like and what the result is.

These exercises will teach you the things that matter, and alignment early and long and catching and using the leg muscles early will give you superior accuracy and consistency in my book.