One of the Toughest Basketball Shots to Master: Floater, Tear Drop or Runner
How many players can say they mastered the basketball floater, tear drop or runner?
I would say not too many. When I say mastered, I mean you know how to consistently make these type of one-handed shots contested by bigger players. I’m small so I had to make this basketball move a part of my offensive repertoire. It took me years to feel comfortable with shooting a floater in the game. It takes a lot timing, concentration, balance and touch. The floater is arguably one of the best shots to take in basketball. You know why? It’s hard to stop!!
Commonly known as the “tear drop” shot, this is a high arcing shot taken by the offensive player. The goal of the floater is to shoot a high arcing shot over a taller or longer defender. The reason for this is because some defenders have made shot blocking a huge part of their game and they do it well. Imagine if you had to go up against Dwight Howard, do you think you could get all the way to the rim, in traffic, without him blocking your shot? Maybe, but it will be very challenging! He has a 10 ft wing span and can jump out of the sky, therefore it makes it difficult for you to get to the basket as he is protecting the paint. This is were the floater, runner or tear drop comes in. This shot has developed several names, but you can call it whatever you want!
The offensive player will be faced with the defender using his or her arm to create a barricade between their shot and the rim. The floater will actually arc the basketball at a higher angle, enabling the player to get the ball over the outstretched hands of the shot blocker. It does take some skill to master, because it changes the basic trajectory of the shot. You also have to build your basketball confidence, by practicing this shot over and over, so that you (your teammates and coach) have no doubts when taking this shot in the game. I have seen players try to use the floater in a game and it has been disastrous.
First, let’s talk about 3 key mistakes players make when trying to utilize the floater:
1. The player doesn’t time it right and the shot blocker blocks their shot. You have to have perception of where you are in relationship to the shot blocker and then shoot the floater. Therefore keep your head up when you dribble!
2. The player is going so fast and is trying to get the shot up as quick as possible and floats it too hard, forcing the ball to BOUNCE hard off of the backboard. On any runner or shot, you have to slow down, get your balance, square your body to the rim and use that soft touch.
3. The player doesn’t target the right angle and misjudges where they should float the ball. You have to focus more on where you want to shoot the ball, not the shot blocker!
These mistakes can be mastered and perfected with a little practice. Most people are impressed with this shot and don’t understand how often the floater can be utilized throughout the course of the game. It can help young players make themselves more potent on offense.
Now, here are some thoughts to think about when trying to attempt the tear drop or floater.
You will first need to start by honing your form when you take this shot. Since this is an advanced level shot, many people will want to practice some fundamentals first. Players should try to have an eye for how they will hold the ball while they are shooting. I suggest having finger control as you carry the ball up in the floating motion. Finger control means having a good grip on the ball with your fingertips as you began to shoot your tear drop. You need to have a standard shooting form and rhythm down before you opt to take the shot. This will help you formulate a basic proficiency when it comes to arcing your shot at the goal.
It will then be important for players to think about how they might be able to actually shoot on target with the high arcing floater. The first step for a player is to arc the ball over the defender’s outstretched hands, the second step and the most challenging part for a player is actually making the shot. This is why it may take a fair bit of practice and skill before they are able to manage this process.
Now, here is a drill to help you master the floater, runner, or tear drop.
*Use another teammate or have a friend grab a broom*
– if you use a broom, have your partner raise the broom high like a shot blocker, when your driving towards the basket
– if you are using a teammate, have them jump as high as they can to try and block your shot
1. Start at the top of the key, pretend that you beat the guy guarding you, drive towards the basket and decide – jump off one foot (left foot, if your shooting the floater with your right hand and jump off the right foot, if your shooting the floater with your left hand) OR jump off 2 feet. Decide one foot or 2 feet.
2. Dribble with your head up to see the defender or the broom (should be standing right above the rim), when your positioning yourself to shoot the floater, make sure:
– your shoulders are square to the rim
– you have the right foot work down, one or 2 feet (see above)
– stay under control and shoot with your body jumping vertical, so you don’t charge the defender
– shoot the ball high and don’t snap your risk, this will help to get arc under the ball and help you with your soft touch (you want a swish or friendly bounce)
– leave your arm up until the floater goes through the net
3. Try this same drill from the wings, you want to aim at the backboard and make sure you have the right angle
Some players need to think about how they might actually use the floater throughout the course of the game. It may not be as simple to do in the game as it is on the practice court. Players should think about how they can actually combine the floating shot while they are in motion. This can help them shoot a running floater, which is a valuable skill to have during the course of the game. It can add in an unpredictable shot to the player’s overall repertoire, making them a potent offensive weapon. Some of my college friends hate playing against me because I have learned how to master the floater. I hardly ever get my shot blocked at 5’8″ and so can you, if you get in the gym and work on your floater!