The Importance and Proper Use of the Guide Hand in Shooting a Basketball

Being able to shoot correctly and consistently is the one thing that will make you a valuable asset to a basketball team. Despite that fact, there are plenty of basketball players who seem to get consistency in their shot. There are many factors that may contribute to that inconsistency, but one of the most common is how the guide hand is used in the shooting motion.

The guide hand is a very important part of the shot, but plenty of players use it incorrectly. As the name suggests, it’s meant to guide the ball to make sure it’s shot straight by the shooting hand. It’s the hand that the Shoot Natural glove was designed to help with.

In this guide, aside from just talking about the guide hand, let’s also look into where the hands should be in every step of the shooting motion. We’ll then take a closer look at what the guide hand is supposed to do and why it’s so important.

Catching the Ball

Be at the ready position with knees bent and both hands up to catch the ball if it’s going to be passed to you. Having your knees bent at the ready lets you be prepared to go into your jump shooting motion and shoot the ball with as little delay as possible.

You must catch the ball with both hands to make sure you don’t fumble and have them stabilize the ball for shooting right away. Brace for impact and get both hands to where the ball will end up.

Holding the Ball

After you catch the ball with both hands, you bring it down to your waist to begin the shooting motion. Maintain a firm grip on the ball, exerting equal pressure with both hands on opposite sides of the ball to make sure you don’t drop it.

Lifting the Ball

As you bring your arms up, you start bringing the shooting arm forward and your guide arm back to transition into the final position. At the same time, with a fluid motion, you jump straight up to add more kinetic energy to the shot.

You then tuck your shooting arm in and extend your wrist to have the ball rest on the palm of your shooting hand. The guide hand rests gently on the side of the ball to keep it in place.

Aiming the Ball

Have your eyes right at the basket as you bring the ball up into the final position. It’s ideal to have the ball just above your head with your shooting arm bent 90 degrees to have the ball in front, not behind your head in a hitch.

This lets your head serve as your reference for the center line, making it easier to instinctively aim your shot. As long as you have it lined up and your eyes on the target, you should be able shoot it straight.

Shooting the Ball

As you’re about to release, your guide hand should do little to nothing to directly affect the shot. All the hard work is done by the legs and the shooting hand, so all the guide hand has to do is keep the ball in place before release.

Shoot at or just before the top of your jump. If you shoot it as you’re already going down, the energy has already dissipated and the power will just come from the shooting arm, which is far from ideal.

It’s best to keep the guide hand straight with the thumb kept in. Having it stiff like this lets you not have it exert any extraneous force to the ball as it’s being shot.

Practicing your shot with the Shoot Natural™  glove can help you learn how to keep your guide hand straight and steady.

Why is the Guide Hand Important?

If the guide hand should remain motionless and not interfere with how the shooting hand releases the ball, then why should it be there?

The guide hand helps lift the ball up and keep it on the shooting hand. As the shooting hand assumes the position of holding the ball with the wrist in full extension, it can be tipped or knocked aside a lot more easily without the guide hand to hold it in place.

Also, the guide hand helps with the aim and alignment of the shot, making sure it stays straight and on target before it’s released. Since most of the power comes from jumping motion of the legs, not much power from the arms is needed.

Remember that if you need to muscle the shot with your arms, you’re doing it wrong. This is usually why many tend to shoot the ball with both hands in the first place.

In this position at this very moment, once the shooting hand is about to release the ball, the job of the guide hand is done. All that’s left for it is to not move in such a way that won’t directly influence where the ball goes.


If you’re just starting to learn how to shoot, then it’s best to cultivate the right habits now.  Shoot Natural™ glove can help you do just that by keeping you from making the most common mistake in basketball, which is having your guide hand interfere with your shot.

If you do have that bad habit, then the Shoot Natural™ can help you correct it by wearing it while practicing your shot. Make a few thousand shots with the Shoot Natural glove on, then ease your way into shooting without it. You’ll start seeing the improvement as you practice more with it on.

Just remember that the Shoot Natural glove only helps if you have every other part of your shooting motion done correctly. Consult with your coach and/or take a video of yourself going through your shooting motion, then correct as needed.