Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is a legend and from rings to MVP awards, he's certainly left his mark on the league as we know it. But, it was Abdul-Jabbar’s utilization of a now near-defunct move that aided his game so much: the hookshot. It's not a particularly easy shot to master, but if you do, you'll instantly become a focus on your offensive attack. Especially at the lower levels of basketball, the hookshot can be simply unguardable and lethal. But even against taller, more experienced athletes, the hookshot can be an incredibly tough move to defend.
The hookshot has an illustrious history that spans many decades, up until it's near extinction in recent years. Abdul-Jabbar adopted the stylish two-point play while the dunk was banned in the NCAA. He made the skyhook a staple of his professional career, but with the new era of dunks and flashiness, the hook has gone missing -- will you bring it back?
Why is the Hookshot so hard to defend?
The hook shot puts your body an arm's length between the ball and your defender -- it would require a huge leap and perfect timing to block the shot. Simply put, most average defenders won’t be able to time your release, meaning that you'll typically get a clean, clear look at the basket every time. You could release the ball at any time, so the defender won’t know that you’ve shot until it's too late.
What happens after you've established your hookshot?
A good defender will adjust aggressively by overplaying your dominant hand. Come up with a strong counter move, whether it’s using your weak hand to cut back or spinning to get an easy layup or jump shot, get creative. The entire point of basketball, often enough, is to create mismatches and then exploit them. If your exploit is the hookshot, use it, then, once they start overplaying on defense to stop the hook shot, take that advantage and switch it up. If you do this correctly, you'll constantly have the defender guessing what you'll do next.
What if the defense double teams?
Practice having good court vision and make the open pass -- if you are being doubled, you will always have an open teammate. By establishing yourself as an offensive threat, you’ll likely tire out the defense with relentless back-and-forth offensive schemes. Take the Memphis Grizzlies' Marc Gasol, an offensively gifted player that loves the hookshoot and is a tremendous passer out of the post. It goes back to creating and exploiting mismatches; when Gasol hits enough shots in the paint, teams are forced to double team him to take that away. Thus, his hookshot advantage is gone, but a new one appears and, somewhere, he's got an open teammate. There aren't a ton of centers that have the adapt ability to pass well out of the post, so, if you can do that, you'll have a strong leg up over everyone, just like Marc.
(Related: Read about the keys to success here.)
The skyhook is widely recognized as one of the most effective moves in basketball -- why, then, has it disappeared? Abdul-Jabbar revolutionized the NBA with the tricky shot, but it has long become a forgotten art. You don’t have to be taller, stronger or quicker than your defender to utilize the skyhook -- it just takes practice. If you’re still struggling with your hookshot, consider booking one of CoachUp’s private trainers. Their extensive knowledge and appreciation for the legends will have you shooting like Kareem in no time! What are you waiting for?