‘Shoot Your Shot’: Definition, Meaning, and Examples

By Amy Gilmore, updated on October 31, 2022

Perhaps you have heard people saying ‘shoot your shot’ and wonder what it means. ‘Shoot your shot’ is a term that means take your chance. Many people believe it is a basketball reference. However, it might have a different origin. 

To learn more about this popular idiom, look at this guide. It includes meanings, examples, and an interesting history of the term.

What Does ‘Shoot Your Shot’ Mean?

People use the term to say, ‘take your chance.’ But, it has a deeper meaning than that to many people. 

When players have the ball in their hands, they have a few choices, but they must act quickly. They can freeze, and another player will take the ball. They can pass the ball to another player or take the shot themself. 

Taking the shot themself makes the player an asset to their team. People see them. They are a winner.

In some cases, not taking the shot can cost a player more than just scoring the winning points in a game. It could cost them a scholarship or even a professional sports contract. 

So, to tell someone to ‘shoot your shot’ could mean take your chance to live a better life, start the business you have always wanted to start, or date someone you never thought you could. 

When Do People Say ‘Shoot Your Shot’?

The phrase is popular on social media, in movies, and among people of all ages. However, it is not a phrase people typically use in client emailsIt is a phrase you could use to motivate a sales or sports team. However, it is more commonly used in informal communications between friends. 

Men often say, ‘shoot your shot’ when talking to a friend about asking someone out. For example: 

  • I think she is way out of your league, but you never know, ‘shoot your shot.’ 
  • I can’t believe she went out with you, but you have to ‘shoot your shot’ to know if you have a chance. 

You can also use it to end a message of encouragement to a friend. For example: 

  • Nancy told me that you are competing in the innovation challenge this weekend. You have some incredible ideas and a real chance to win. ‘Shoot your shot.’ 

Where Did ‘Shoot Your Shot’ Originate

As mentioned above, many people believe that ‘shoot your shot’ is a basketball reference. However, it is believed that it came as a response to the famous quote by Wayne Gretzky, ‘you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.’ 

For example, you could use the term with the Gretzky quote like:

  • ‘You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take,’ so...
  • ... because ‘you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.’ 

Wayne Gretzky was a famous hockey player and winning coach. He used many moving quotes to motivate players. ‘You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take’ is one of his most famous quotes. But, ‘shoot your shot’ is arguably more popular, and the exact origin is unclear. 

Examples of ‘Shoot Your Shot’ 

You may hear people use the idiom in various contexts. Here are a few examples: 

  • If you do not ‘shoot your shot,’ you have no chance of getting that new job. 
  • There are numerous ways to reach your goal, but eventually, you have to ‘shoot your shot’ to succeed. 
  • I'm happy to see you finally ‘shoot your shot.’ I am sure it is going to pay off for you. 
  • Did you finally ‘shoot your shot?’
  • Why didn’t you ‘shoot your shot?’ You probably could have gotten that new contract. 

Alternatives to ‘Shoot Your Shot’ 

‘Shoot your shot’ is usually seen as a positive saying. However, you may find another term better suited for your message. If that is the case, these alternatives may be what you are looking for: 

  • Take a chance. 
  • This is your opportunity. 
  • Get in the game. 
  • Be in it to win it.
  • Be your best. 

Final Advice on ‘Shoot Your Shot’

Idioms like ‘shoot your shot’ can be confusing. However, using terms like ‘onwards and upwards,’ ‘cutting corners,’ and ‘welcome aboard’ in your writing can make you more relatable unless you use them incorrectly. So, bookmark writingtips.org to easily verify the correct usage of common idioms.

Strong writers often need to look up the correct usage of a term. Even if you’ve used a term before, looking it up to ensure you are using it correctly will make you a more confident writer and may help you ‘shoot your shot.’ 


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Written By:
Amy Gilmore
Amy Gilmore is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. She has been a professional writer and editor for the past eight years. She developed a love of language arts and literature in school and decided to become a professional freelance writer after a demanding career in real estate. Amy is constantly learning to become a better writer and loves sharing tips with other writers who want to do the same.

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