Double your accuracy from outside the key by strengthening essential muscles that are essential for hitting the three-pointer consistently.
By Tim Rigby, MA
The clock reads 0:03 left in the game and your team is trailing by two points. Unfortunately, your team has to inbound from behind your own touch line. Your guard inbounds as your streaking group of desperate players fast breaks across mid-court for one last shot. But the other team’s defense stymies you at their outside perimeter as the clock is about to run out. The ball arrives in your hands, but there’s no time to make any more passes. All you can do is jump high and sail a long-distance shot from behind the arc. What are the chances it’ll go in? Remember now, a three-point shot will help you not just tie but actually win the game.
Enough hoops fantasy time for the moment. Knowing that even NBA stars who get paid several million dollars a year are considered exceptional by sinking 40 percent from the three-point mark, what chance do you have? 10 percent? 15 percent? If you want to double the chances of nailing the trifecta, here’s some resistance training directly responsible for helping you sink the trey more consistently.
A Kinetic Rhythm
To throw an object with the size and weight of a basketball about 50 feet, power must originate from your legs. “If you try to throw just with your arms, you’re doomed to fail from the three-point mark,” says Paul Culham, a one-time at 6’5” a small forward from the University of Toronto varsity basketball team. “Basketball is a very repetitive sport and success comes from consistency. The only way to drain a three-pointer consistently is to first harness power from your legs, which in turn makes it easier on your arms. The secret is finding a kinetic rhythm involving your whole body, starting with your feet and ending when you release the ball high in the air.”
Clearly, there’s a lot more to throwing a three-pointer than simply letting the ball slide off your fingertips, and ensuring that you have mastered the right rhythm throughout your whole body is essential. Remember that the sport of basketball doesn’t always require you to have extreme athleticism or speed (but they do help). If you’re 5’10” there’s nothing you’re going to be able to do to change your height when you’re up against a 6’2” defender.
Remember also that Larry Bird was by no means the most athletic or naturally gifted player—he was often considered a clumsy runner and lacking in speed—however, he was certainly one of the most skilled shooters in NBA history, and much of his success leading to his becoming a Hall of Famer came from drilling the three-pointer.
Jump Squat: For lift power
3 sets of 12-15
Key Benefit: Increase power in your upper legs to initiate a long-distance basketball shot.
Target: Quads, hamstrings, glutes
Start: Position a barbell (weighted very lightly) behind your neck across your traps and use a wide overhand grip to stabilize the bar. Keep your head up and your back straight. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart with toes pointing marginally outward.
Movement: As you lower your torso, imagine you’re sitting down in a chair torso, keeping your head level and back straight. Stop lowering when you get to where your quads are parallel with the floor. Press explosively with your quads to generate a full-body thrust into the air until your toes leave the ground. Land as gently as you can and balance yourself back to the start position.
Reps Tip: It’s OK to fix your eyes slightly upward (toward the ceiling) before you jump, but don’t let your head lower as you descend to the ground; any rounding of your spine can leave you vulnerable to injury.
Upright Row: For speed
4 sets of 10
Key Benefit: Increase the speed and power with which you can bring the ball to the shooting position above your head.
Target: Middle deltoids, trapezius
Start: Stand upright with a slightly wider-than-shoulder-width stance for stability. Grasp a light barbell with a pronated (overhand) grip slightly narrower than shoulder width. Hold the bar at arms’ length so it’s resting adjacent to your thighs. Keep your head up.
Movement: Inhale and expand your upper chest. Leading with your elbows, pull the bar in a vertical plane straight upward, immediately in front of your torso. Your back shouldn’t round forward but must remain erect. Keeping your elbows very high, continue to pull the bar upward until it’s almost in front of your chin. Hold for a one-count and slowly lower the bar along the same plane back to the start position.
Reps Tip: Bend your knees slightly for added stability; this technique mirrors the act of stabilizing your lower body before you begin a long-range shot.
Bench Dip: For distance
3 sets of 10-12
Key Benefit: Greater throwing distance and more consistent shot-making.
Target: Chest, front deltoids, triceps
Start: Position two benches perpendicular to each other. The distance between them should equal about the length of your legs. Set your body facing up such that it’s supported by your heels on one bench and your palms facing down and behind you on the other bench. Your legs are effectively parallel to the ground.
Execution: Slowly lower your torso by bending at the elbows and resisting gravity pulling you down. To protect your elbow joints, don’t flare your elbows outward; keep them pointing toward the rear as best you can. Continue lowering until your elbows are bent about 90 degrees. Hold for a one-count. Inhale and forcefully press with your triceps to raise your torso back to the start position.
Reps Tip 1: Maintain a straight back throughout the movement and resist the urge to lower your head; these precautions will help you avoid spinal injury.
Reps Tip 2: To increase resistance have a partner place a weight plate across your thighs once you get into the start position.