A “Rainbow Shot” is a shot in basketball with an arc that is higher than normal on its path to the basket. It gets its name from the path that takes, which resembles the arc of a rainbow. Many NBA players are known for their Rainbow Shots; these include Stephen Curry, Lebron James, and the late Kobe Bryant. Another one is 14-time All-Star, Dirk Nowitzki.
More than just form factor, long shots like the Rainbow Shot are used by players in the NBA to help beat the buzzer. They are also used even when near the basket.
Rainbow shots are shots that follow an arch that resembles that of a rainbow. It has a high arc and, more often than not, it is shot from a great distance. It usually ends up in a three-point shot.
Rainbow shots are often done to avoid defensive blockers who are in front of the shooter.
Long Shots and Short Ones
Often, a rainbow shot will be seen when a player tries to sink a long shot. They may be deployed in order to help “beat the buzzer”.
Long shots like these are usually seen towards the last few seconds of a quarter. A shot that makes it is counted as long as the ball was released just at the buzzer or right before it.
In addition to long shots, rainbow shots can also be done even when there is a short-range between the shooter and the basket.
The form of the shot is the same, it will have a high arc on its way to the basket.
Like its longshot counterpart, short-distance rainbow shots are often done to bypass defenders who are in front of the shooter.
Pulling Off a Rainbow Shot
A rainbow shot may look like a “lucky” shot, but it takes a lot of skill and practice to pull off. Usually, it is the more skilled basketball players who are also able to successfully do a rainbow shot.
One caveat to the rainbow shot is that doing it too often can sometimes affect the player’s form. Power is needed to launch a rainbow shot and consistently shooting one may lead to form issues.