shot pocket (shot' pah'-kuht) noun. The position that the basketball is in when a player begins his/her jumpshot. Typically, the ball is "in the shot pocket" when all parts of the shooting arm -- upper, lower, hand, and two shooting fingers (index and middle) -- are in a vertical plain to the side of the face, out in front of shoulder.

Usage example: Most pictures of Larry Bird show him with the ball in his shot pocket.

Word History:
Isiah Thomas has had a pretty busy retirement from professional basketball. First he spent a few years ruining the Toronto Raptors. Then he bought the entire Continental Basketball Association and succeeded in bankrupting it in less than two years. Then he made the Pacers crappy for another couple years before getting fired and moving on to destroy the Knicks. All that and he still found time in his schedule to do basketball commentary for NBC. During Game 7 of the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals between the Pacers and Bulls, Isiah repeatedly insisted that Reggie Miller needed to "get inside Michael Jordan's shot pocket." Since it sounded made up and vaguely obscene, we thought Isiah was either insane or had Tourette's. Maybe both. Imagine our surprise when we found out that the shot pocket is a real term. Usually referred to as "shooting pocket" or "shooting alignment," the word is used by coaches to teach better shooting mechanics.

Bird shot pocket
The classic "Larry Bird Shot Pocket" pose.
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