When Should My Non-Shooting Hand Come Off The Ball?

We’ve talked in other blogs about the relationship between the shooting hand and the non-shooting hand (NSH).  The two hands do work together, but with one as the supporting actor, and one as the star of the show.


Ultimately, shooting a ball is a one-person-show.  Or at least the end of the performance is.


See, when you are shooting the ball with one hand, you’ve cut the variables in half (at least theoretically).  We all understand this, and work to build the new habits with one hand, but for a lot of us there is still the nagging question…


“When do I take the non-shooting hand off?”


The answer is actually pretty simple.  You need to make sure that the non-shooting hand is coming off the ball when the shooting hand is a position to solely take over the shooting motion.


In other words, if you are holding the ball in triple threat position, with your shooting hand on the top of the ball, you will need your NSH in order to be successful.  Take away your NSH at this point and the ball will either fall out of your shooting hand, or you will need to grip the ball to palm it, which isn’t a successful shooting grip.  So at triple threat position the role of the NSH is to keep the ball held in the shooting hand.


As we lift the ball a little higher (lets say chest height now), your shooting hand will likely be positioned on the back of the basketball.  Again, if you take away your NSH at this point the ball will fall out of your shooting hand.  Obviously the shooting hand is still not in a position to be able to take over the shooting motion.


Then we get to the position that most young players make another mistake.  They get the ball to chin height, and think of this as their shot pocket or set point.  The problem with this position is the shooting hand is still on the back of the ball and in position to shoot the ball forward.  This is why so many young players shoot flat shots, but because the shooting hand is staying on the back of the ball and never getting UNDER the ball, the NSH is still needed so that the ball will stay in the shooting hand.


Finally we get to something resembling the traditional set point or shot pocket, with the ball at forehead height.  If the shooting hand wrist gets bent back, then the shooting hand should be close to parallel to the floor and able to support the ball without help from the NSH.  Try it yourself.  Hold the ball in a shot pocket position and take your NSH off the ball.  You should be able to support the ball there for hours without having to use the NSH.


This is the position we need to start taking the NSH off the ball.  Before then, and the shooting hand won’t be in a position to take over sole responsibility of the duties, and after than it will potentially be pushing the ball off line.



  1. Michael Deutsch

    I have always taught and believed the NSH comes off as I begin the shooting motion. That is, moving from the set point. Is that a fraction too late?


    • Coach Dave

      No, that is about right. Remember, this happening really quickly, so anywhere around that point is great.

  2. Brad Johnson

    What terminology do you use for when a player catches the ball in triple threat position. I have always thought of that as the start of the shot pocket.

    • Coach Dave

      I refer to that as triple threat position.

  3. Dave Wallace

    I love the detail, it helps me see how you’re thinking. I do have a question. I thought in the triple threat position the SH was more under the ball and maybe slightly behind, with the ball located closer to chest height. Where do you see triple threat? Maybe a pic.

    • Coach Dave

      To me (and really it is just terminology), the triple threat position is lower, more belly button height. I don’t love having a triple threat position that is chest height as this tends to expose the ball to defenders, and since the hand is on the back of the ball, can promote a flat shot if the player doesn’t continue lifting the ball.
      Just my thoughts…

  4. Shea Massengale

    Coach, I have a question/thought concerning the NSH…I have noticed some of my players bringing the NSH off too soon. I have several girls that do this and I am having them leave the hand a bit longer on the ball. Here is my reasoning: The NSH is your guide hand and if it comes off the ball too soon then they try to guide the ball too much with their shooting hand. They seem to have more control of the ball later in their shot if the NSH is left on the ball. I have seen their % go up when shooting on “the GUN”. Thoughts??

    • Coach Dave

      First off, if its working, then its working. I view the role of the NSH as helping get the ball into a shooting position, for the shooting hand to take over. Wherever that position is for each player, that’s roughly where the NSH should start to come off, in my opinion.


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