Drills for teaching the hook shot
Though I’ve coached basketball for more than 40 years at multiple levels, it still amazes me that players cannot execute the Mikan Drill or a hook shot. Growing up in the 1960’s, watching the sport’s college and pro players, the hook shot was the standard.
George Mikan, one of the first great centers, popularized the shot at DePaul University and later with the Los Angeles Lakers. Players like Bill Russell, Bill Walton, Tom Heinsohn, Johnny “Red” Kerr, Kevin McHale, Magic Johnson and Adrian Dantley all used the hook shot. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the all-time leading scorer with more than 33,000 points, did a lot of damage with the hook.
I speak a lot of clinics, and when I ask high school players to demonstrate the Mikan Drill, most shoot layups instead of hooks. The hook is a great shot because it enables the player to get off a shot against a taller defender. It’s also effective going to the basket off of the fast break because the player is shooting in rhythm. It even enables a player to get fouled as long as they’re shooting with both hands — one to shoot and one to protect the ball.
Here are four simple drills I use to teach players the hook shot.
Bucket of Water
The first drill I use is called “Bucket of Water.” I tell players to imagine that they have a gallon of water in a bucket and it’s too heavy to toss with one hand. They must use two hands to guide and protect the ball, just like it’s a gallon of water.
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Players stand opposite each other about 8 to 10 feet apart, taking the ball with both hands and tossing the ball underhand to each other. I usually have them do 10 reps before switching, allowing them to work both the right and left sides. The coach must stress using both hands, starting at the opposite hip and tossing ball with some arc to other player.
In this drill, players are still standing 8 to 10 feet apart, hooking the ball to one another. Stress to players that they must start with two hands at the opposite hip and swinging the ball up and slightly behind the head, guiding the ball with both hands. The off arm guides and protects the ball.
Stress hooking the ball up in the air, starting from the opposite hip. Again, have players switch sides so they are using both their left and right hands.
Head in the Hole
The third drill is Head in the Hole. The players starts by standing beneath the basket, sideways and slightly to the front of the rim. Have the players start right handed, again bringing the ball from their hips with two hands. The off hand drops away from the ball naturally. After taking 10 shots on one side, have players switch to their left hands. This drill forces the players to use the hook shot motion.
In the Mikan Drill, have players take one step and shoot the hook off the glass, stressing two hands to guide ball, eyes on the square, and lifting the outside leg. Depending on how fast the player executes the shot, have him or her catch the ball out of the net and shoot the ball with the left hand on the left side of the basket. When they get good at it, they can go back and forth and take 10 to 20 shots. This drill not only teaches an effective shot, but it also works on the player’s conditioning.
Make sure the players go off of their inside foot, and they must “chop” their feet to get the rhythm of the drill. Players must go off of one foot, lift the ball with two hands and keep their eyes on box on the backboard. If their heads drops, their shots drop.
Once a player has mastered the Mikan Drill, the next progression would to be to use it in the post and driving from the wings. I guarantee if coaches work on these drills with their players — guards, forwards and centers — it will increase their scoring averages.
Barry Hecker has coached basketball for more than 40 years, including 21 years in the NBA where he spent time with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies.