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Life 101

Our Life 101 series features campus experts sharing their “how to” tips.

How to shoot a ‘three’

When Wes Miller talks three-pointers, he speaks not only as a coach. As a Tar Heel guard, he lit it up from behind the line. During his junior year, under Roy Williams, he led the Tar Heels in three-point shooting. Of his 222 points that season, 192 were from the three-point line. UNCG Magazine wanted to know the lowdown on hitting threes — so we went straight to the source. With basketball in hand, Coach Miller stepped beyond the arc in Fleming Gym late one afternoon and gave us a tutorial.

Men's basketball Coach Wes Miller gives tips to one of the youths in the UNCG summer basketball camp.
Men's basketball Coach Wes Miller gives tips to one of the youths in the UNCG summer basketball camp.

What's the common thread among all great three-point shooters? They all have great footwork, they all have great rhythm, from their toes all the way to their fingertips. And they all have a really, really strong release — or good release point. That's the way you flick your wrist in a basketball shot to have that good release that gives you positive backspin on the ball and makes it soft when it gets to the rim.

Shooting is first and foremost about footwork. If your feet aren't in the right place then you're not going to be a good shooter. Balance is a part of that. Stepping into shots and catching the ball appropriately with your feet in the right place, and then leaving the floor to shoot the ball in the right way. Footwork is always number one.

Step into a shot. Move towards the basket. If you ever listen to coaches coach, they don't like it when guys take shots when they're going away from the basket because it's a lower percentage shot. You should always be stepping in. A lot of people teach a one-two step, where you step with your opposite foot from your shooting hand first, followed by the same foot that's your shooting hand.

Second, shooting is a rhythm. It's like a golf swing. It's a rhythm motion. If you watch the NBA, there might be guys that shoot the ball differently but you'll notice that they have great rhythm in their shots. ... You want to have a rhythm shot where you catch, there's usually a slight dip in the shot, and then there's a rhythm — for lack of a better word — all the way through your body until the point you release.

You do want to be low when you catch the ball. So you're already in a stance, you're not standing straight up with your legs locked out — but you want to be low, [to] catch the ball. You can't just go straight up when you catch it. There's almost a slight dip in all good shooters in their knees and their hips, to dip down towards the ground just slightly and then start their momentum up towards the rim.

The third thing is the release. Probably the most important thing in any shot is the way it comes out of your hand and the way you release the ball. If you watch any good shooter, they generally have backspin. That's the result of a good release, a good flick of the wrist. If you're shooting a knuckleball it's got a lot less chance of going in — so you want the ball to spin.

There are different philosophies on fingers to release with. A lot of people say your index finger should be pointing straight toward your target. Somebody with smaller hands, like myself, it was always my index finger and then my middle finger; I tried to almost point those two directly towards the target.

Repetition and practice are essential. I think the thing that made me a good three-point shooter was number one, I had the correct mechanics that mattered and then, number two, I think I put a lot of work and time and effort into building the repetitions to make me very consistent. And I think that's the secret to it — and maybe we should add that as the fourth point — is repetition and practice. I had a rule in the summertime in the off season, I had to make a thousand shots a day, six days a week, and I think that probably helped me more than anything else. …It was probably about eighth grade all the way through the time I finished playing.

Winners of last season's SoCon North division title, the team takes to the court again in November. Season tickets are on sale. For the best seats, place your order soon at, or call 336-334-3250.




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