How to Shoot a Bank Shot in Basketball Like Tim Duncan

The bank shot is a fun as well as useful and effective shot. Here’s how to shoot a bank shot like one of the greats, Tim Duncan.

In college, I often played basketball with this guy who I called “Mini Duncan.”

I didn’t call him this because he looked like Tim Duncan or because he was a San Antonio Spurs fan.

I called him this because 95 percent (probably) of the shots he took were bank shots (and also because of his short stature, hence the “mini” in his nickname).

If you don’t know much about Duncan, he was a master at the bank shot.

I don’t know the actual percentage of bank shots that he made, but he made a lot.

This shot (and how he sets it up) was the fundamental move that he mastered.

It was the move that he relied on throughout his career and the move that helped him get 5 NBA Championships.

Anyway, back to my story.

I don’t know how “mini Duncan” did it so often, but he was amazing at the bank shot.

I was intrigued by his playstyle (or his ability to make these shots) and wanted to shoot like him.

It took me a few weeks to be able to semi-consistently make bank shots. I had to watch loads of Duncan highlights and online tutorials, and had to practise them on a daily basis.

But the payoff was worth it because, now, I had another weapon for my Old Man Game utility belt.

At first, I wanted to learn this shot because it was cool and fun to do.

But after using it in a few pick-up games, I noticed how resourceful it was.

Why the Bank Shot is Useful

At certain areas on the court, the type of basketball shot is actually easier to make than a regular jumper.

It’s because of the angle and whatnot (there’s a science behind it, but I’m not a nerd so I’m not getting into it. But you can read about it here if you like).

Additionally, there are certain situations when the bank shot is the only option.

For instance, imagine your defender is suffocating you (defensively, not violently).

It’s airtight and the only shot you can take is heaving the ball high enough for it to go over their arms, and for it to bounce off the backboard, and hopefully dropping into the basket.

Now, you probably shouldn’t get yourself into that situation in the first place.

But things happen.

So, it’s better to be prepared than caught in the headlights.

So, to prevent scares, here are some tips on how to make the bank shot.

How to Make Bank Shots

First off, however, I want to say that the bank shot isn’t as complex as it seems. There’s some geometry to it, but you don’t need to be a math whiz to master the bank shot.

It’s not as if you have to calculate equations like that one Jeremy Lin meme before shooting.

You just need to know which area on the backboard you have to hit and how powerful your shot needs to be.

And this skill comes with repetition; you have to deliberately practice it a lot and develop muscle memory.

Anyway, here are the tips:

bank shot
(Where to shoot bank shots)
  • Normally, the two top corners of the inside block are where you want the ball to bounce off of.
  • There are certain areas on the court where bank shots are optimal. Try to only shoot them there (refer to image above).
  • To add to the previous tip, bank shots are generally best used in the close to mid-range. Beyond the perimeter, it gets harder to gauge the angle and power of the shot. I also personally believe it’s a waste of energy because you have to shoot harder for the ball to bounce off the backboard.
  • To build on the previous tip, gauge the power of your shot. This is common sense, but when you’re still learning, you won’t know how hard or soft you need to shoot the ball. Thus, you’re going to have to play around with it.
  • Lastly, all of these tips are just guidelines. You have to experiment and see what works for you.

How to Practice Bank Shots

And to assist you with that last tip here is a drill you can try:

Remember the “Bank Shot” zones I showed you earlier? Pull it up. You’re going to need it for this drill.

  • Pick a lane you want to start in. Proceed to the point closest to the basket. Shoot until you make 5 bank shots (or more if you like). Remember to vary your shot (power, height, etc.) to see what is most comfortable for you and what goes in most often.
  • Once you make 5 shots, take a step back and repeat the process.
  • Continue this until you complete the lane (you should make approximately 20-25 shots, depending on how many back steps you take.
  • Once the lane is covered in your sweat and tears, move to another lane and repeat the process.
  • You will complete the drill when you finish the task at all four lanes.

Final Thoughts

Mastering the bank shot will not be easy.

But if you keep up the hard work, the bank shot will come to you like second nature.

And when it does, people will scream “mini Duncan” every time you call “bank.”