Where Should My Non-Shooting Hand Go?
The role of the non-shooting hand (NSH) is similar to the role of the supporting actor or actress in a movie. Critical, but not the focal point.
Ultimately, we need the NSH to hold the ball into the shooting hand as we lift the ball from triple threat position to the set point, but once the ball arrives at the set point the shooting hand should be a position to take over the shooting motion fully. In other words, we hold the ball with two hands until we are ready to shoot the ball with one hand.
As you’ve likely noticed, I like shooters to try to keep their habits as simple as possible. The logic being, the more simple their habits, the easier it should be to repeat the same motion each time, and hopefully get a good result. Obviously we can’t do this perfectly, but our goal should be to keep our habits as simple as possible.
There are a lot of factors the go into keeping the use of the NSH as simple as possible. In other blogs we’ve talked about getting the shooting hand in position and making sure it is wide enough to fully support the ball. In this blog I would like to focus on the position of the NSH on the ball because putting the NSH in the wrong position can cause all sorts of problems in a player’s release.
For the purpose of this conversation, when we talk about the position of the NSH we are going to refer to its position when the ball is at the set point or triple threat position. Ideally, there should be no movement of the NSH on the ball leading up to this position, so if you want to reverse engineer the starting point, just maintain the grip that we are talking about here.
The first position that we need to avoid with the NSH is the on top of the ball. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, having the NSH on the top of the ball at the set point will mean a player needs to make a bigger move just to get the NSH our of the way of the ball as it is being shot. Secondly, having the NSH on the top off the ball can almost allow the shooting hand to slip out of position. What I mean is, if the shooter didn’t have their NSH touching the ball at all, the shooting hand would be responsible for fully supporting the ball, and would be more likely to find its way under the centre of the ball. If it didn’t the player would be in position to shoot the ball off line, or worse, the ball would fall out of the shooting hand (taking it to an extreme). We need to avoid positions where the shooting hand is reliant on the NSH in any way for the shooting motion.
The next position to avoid is getting the NSH in the front of the ball. The reasoning is really the same as above. We need to avoid putting the NSH in a position where it is effectively blocking your own shot if it isn’t used PERFECTLY.
Lastly, we need to avoid putting the NSH in a position where it wants to push the ball. Think of really young players that don’t have the strength to shoot the ball with one hand, so the move both hands to either side of the bottom of the ball and push with both hands. As these players get older and stronger they don’t hit a check-point where the habit all of a sudden changes. Instead, the habits slowly morph into new, better habits (or, they don’t…. Hopefully they do though!!) So at some point the player will have the shooting hand MOSTLY under the ball, and the NSH a LITTLE bit under the ball, and still be pushing the ball off line.
So here is what we SHOULD try to do…
The most simple position that we can put the NSH on the ball (at the set point, remember) is on the side of the ball (left side for right handed shooters, right side for lefties), perpendicular to the floor, with the fingers pointed at the ceiling. From that position, the NSH simply needs to move off the ball by 1cm (a half inch) to get out of the way of the ball flight. In addition, it isn’t in a position to be able to push the ball in any way that is advantageous to the shooter.
Just be aware, simply putting your hand in this position doesn’t cure all bad habits. If a player has the habit of using their NSH, they are likely still going to have to learn to trust that they don’t need their NSH in the shooting process, but getting into this position will make that process a little easier.