Why Do Basketball Players Shoot With One Hand?

Looking at it from afar, basketball players use two hands to shoot.

But when you look closely at their hands, they only really shoot with one hand. Why is this the case?

Basketball players shoot with one hand to increase their ball control and improve their aim because it’s the proper form. But during practice, they may also shoot entirely with one hand just to get used to it.

So, if you’re finding it hard to shoot with one hand, the practical tips below should help.

Why do Basketball Players Shoot With One Hand?

Basketball players may seem like they shoot with two hands, but they’re not. The other hand is only the guide hand, and the leading hand is used to shoot.

So, why do players shoot with one hand? There are several reasons for it.

1. For better control and aim

Have you seen a complete newbie in basketball shoot the ball? The common denominator is most of them will shoot with two hands. They think that they can control the ball better this way.

But as newbies become more experienced, they’ll learn that shooting with one hand is superior. By having just one hand aim and shoot, you’re aiming the ball where you want it to go.

The other hand is meant to be a guide, and it does not interfere with your shot. Your main hand will always be the one to shoot.

2. It’s the correct form

Shooting with one hand has always been the correct form. Even when you watch old basketball games, no one shoots with two hands – except Rick Barry. But even this NBA legend only used the granny shot in the free throw.

Even the best shooters in the NBA shoot with just one hand and the other as a guide. No one shoots with two hands because that will mess up their shot even more.

Plus, we grew up shooting with one hand, so changing it at any time will be dangerous.

3. To practice

Sometimes, players shoot entirely one-handed without the other hand guiding the ball. A lot of times, this form is used to practice shooting the ball.

This is the basic form, so practicing with it allows players to not rely on the guiding hand. This builds a solid foundation, especially for beginners, so that they won’t use two hands as a habit.

Even pro players will shoot one-handed shots to warm up or to practice their shooting. They’ll have a much easier time shooting in actual games by getting the form down.

Can You Shoot with Two Hands?

As we mentioned above, there are reasons why all players shoot with only one hand. It allows for easier ball control and lets you aim without any issues.

So, shooting with both hands would not be ideal and achievable in a game. But you can do it while shooting free throws, as some players do. For instance, Rick Barry popularized the two-handed underhand free throw.

In this shot, he uses two hands to bring the ball down and shoot it up while rotating it. But shooting with two hands will only ever work during free throws because:

  • No one’s guarding you
  • Two-handed shots are difficult to control
  • It’s easy to block

So, no player will ever be crazy enough to shoot with both hands while in a real game.

Practical Tips to Shoot With One Hand

If you’re a beginner, shooting with both hands at first makes sense. But to help you get out of that wrong form, here are some tips:

1. Practice shooting with only one hand

The best remedy to shooting with both hands is to start shooting with one hand as soon as possible. Stop shooting with both hands first, and try shooting with only one hand.

This is what many coaches teach beginners and even pros to shoot more effectively. You can knock it down even with both hands by mastering the one-handed shooting motion.

2. Master the form

Aside from your arms, you should also take note of the proper form of your body. Starting from the elbows to the feet, you’ll need to get into this form every time you shoot subconsciously.

First, you’ll need to keep your elbow at a 90-degree angle. Then, you need to have a firm and straight body while shooting while looking at the basket. Then, you’ll bend your knees slightly as you jump. Lastly, point your feet to the basket.

3. Warm-up close to the basket

You’ll need to start shooting close to the basket to complement your one-handed shooting drill. Start by shooting it within two feet of the basket and slowly increase the distance.

By starting close, you’re building momentum to get into your rhythm and shoot from afar quickly. Do this whenever you practice or warm up before a game.

4. Don’t let your guide hand interfere

A common mistake beginners make is letting their other hand interfere with their shot. This makes it essentially a two-handed shot which, as we learned, isn’t the correct form.

Remember that your other hand will only serve as a guide to straighten your shot. It shouldn’t touch the ball too much aside from the initial contact before shooting.

So, practice one-handed shooting first before you use your other hand.

5. Practice a lot

Isn’t it great that shooting isn’t determined by height or athleticism?

The best shooter in the NBA, Steph Curry, isn’t as strong or as tall as LeBron, but he beats him in this category.

Shooting is all about technique and muscle memory. Once you get these down, you’ll be able to knock down shots anywhere on the court. But it all starts with shooting A LOT.

Final Thoughts

Shooting with one hand is far more precise. This is why even pro basketball players will shoot with one hand with the aid of the guiding hand.

Naturally, beginners will start shooting with two hands until they get the hang of one-handed shooting.

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