For anyone who watches basketball, the three-point shot is one of the most important and exciting parts of the game. Any shot that is attempted from beyond the arching line on the court — approximately 20 feet, depending on the angle — is worth three points and is essential in any level of basketball, especially for smaller guards who play on the perimeter.
Third-year Huskie sharpshooter Alex Unruh of the men’s basketball team gave me a brief step-by-step tutorial on how to shoot the trey ball — for newbies like myself.
“You start with your legs and having a good, strong base is a key to any jumpshot. For me, when I’m off balance, or my legs aren’t under me, then it’s tough to get it to go in — or even if it does go in, it doesn’t feel good,” Unruh said. “If you look at a guy like Steph Curry, his feet are always underneath him. So everytime I shoot, I make sure my feet are set, that’s a big key for me.”
With that in mind, we practiced having a solid foundation before putting up a shot. Unruh also mentioned how it’s important to jump when you’re shooting, as opposed to barely getting off the ground and using your arms to shoot, like me.
“The second thing is to catch the ball clean, and then having as little motion between the catch and when you’re releasing the ball. If you’re doing lots of things before you shoot the ball, then there’s plenty of room for error,” he said. “So having as fluent a motion as possible, and a simple motion as possible is key. Something I’m always trying to work on is simplifying my release.”
With these simple tips in mind, I watched Unruh’s demonstration — and boy, did he make it look easy. After missing his first attempt, he banged in five in a row, ultimately hitting seven of his 10 shots. That’s success Unruh is familiar with, as he shot 39.5 per cent from beyond the arc with the Huskies this season.
Looking to follow his impressive performance, I proceeded to clank my first six shots off the rim, before finally swishing one home — much to my delight, as I paraded around the gym in celebration. It’s safe to say they won’t be saving a spot for me on the team. But according to Unruh, practice makes perfect, so maybe there’s hope for me yet.
“Once you’ve found something you’re comfortable with, it’s just about repetition. That’s why we’re always in the gym — putting up lots of shots and making sure you’re doing the same thing over and over,” Unruh said. “When I’m by myself in the gym, I put up anywhere between 250-350 shots in one session. Repetition is important, but once you get tired, your form starts to go and that’s when it’s time to quit.”
Unruh’s best performance of the year came on Feb. 6 against the Brandon University Bobcats, where he tallied 25 points and went 5–8 shooting from downtown. He remembers that game well and said it’s one of his favourite memories as a Huskie so far. Unruh says a big key to shooting well is getting in the zone — and he was feeling it that night.
“Last year, in a game against Brandon I think, I had 25 points or something, and my shot felt really good then,” Unruh said. “It’s better to get up and down the court a few times and get in the rhythm of the game. Once you do that, maybe you make a couple and then you really start to feel good — it’s all about finding a rhythm and I was feeling good that night.”
Photos: Caitlin Taylor / Photo Editor