What is a Hook Shot in Basketball?

When it comes to basketball, the offense has many choices. Guards get the most credit for their flashy dribble moves and deep threes, but big men have a wide selection of shots too. That includes the iconic hook shot.

Throughout the following sections, I will analyze the hook shot, why it’s used, how it came to be, as well as its controversial past. Those will shed more light on the unique scoring move, as well as provide insight into different ways players get the ball into the basket.

Among the Trees

Basketball is a sport with many different facets. That’s especially true for offensive players. Scoring does not come easy in the NBA, especially when players are down low on the block or by the hoop. An outside jumper is tough, but it’s easier than getting the ball up over a big man.

To do that, players need to get creative. There have been many crafty shots utilized down low over the years, ranging from quick post moves to fancy layups, and they all achieve the same purpose: to score over taller opponents. However, few are as effective as a hook shot.

What’s in a Hook

A hook shot is an extremely specific type of shot where a player turns perpendicular to the basket and, using their body to shield off the defender, moves their arm in a sweeping motion to throw (or hook) the ball up over their head towards the hoop.

Unlike a traditional jumper, hook shots are shot with one hand. The other arm is used alongside the body to create space between the ball and the defender. In that way, the hook shot is extremely hard to block. As it’s one-handed, it’s hard to control as well.

For those reasons, hook shots are typically only used right around the basket. The further a player steps out, the more difficult it becomes to control. A few athletes have managed to bring it out over the years, but that’s far from the norm.

A Long and Storied History

The hook shot is perhaps one of the most effective post moves ever created. Not only does it allow shorter players to score on bigger ones, but it’s a great way for big men to ensure that nobody can interfere with their offensive efficiency. 

The first hook shot ever made came in 1937, when Pranas Talzunas of Lithuania shot it during the FIBA championship that year. It was then popularized by Goose Tatum of the Harlem Globetrotters before becoming a staple among NBA big men.

It proved to be quite effective, and even gained popularity over the dunk because of how hard it was to block. In fact, it became so effective that Kareem Abdul-Jabaar got it banned for a short time in college due to its effectiveness.

The hall of famer is also credited with inventing the “Sky Hook.” That refers to a normal hook shot taken much further away from the hoop. The extra distance on the move creates an angle no one, even the tallest centers, can reach. 

There have been a few other variations over the years, and they are all effective because they are all built on the same principle. As long as a player knows how to control the move and properly use their body, it’s almost impossible to stop.

Final Words

The hook shot is one of the most utilized post moves in basketball. While some guards try it on drives, it’s mainly used down low. It’s a great way to get the ball over a taller defender, and is an efficient way to score. It may not come about a lot, but it’s always effective when it does.

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