How to Break Bad Shooting Habits and Keep Your GUIDE HAND Quiet

The most common shooting flaw with young players is they move their guide hand.

In particular, players often flick the ball with their thumb, as shown in the picture. This is also known as “thumbing the ball”.

Moving your guide will affect the flight of the ball – causing you to miss left or right. It can also create “side spin”… instead of soft and smooth “back spin” when you shoot.

How Do You Break This Habit?

To break this bad habit, you must develop new muscle memory by taking a few thousand shots with the CORRECT TECHNIQUE.

A few thousand correct repetitions create new muscle memory and allow you to break the habit.

This can be a really tough habit to break because you have to stay really focused for thousands of repetitions.

If you have ever tried to break this habit you know how difficult it can be!!

I have found the easiest and most effective way to break this habit is to practice with the J-strap.

The J-strap forces you to keep your guide hand still so you avoid slipping back to your old technique. And allows you to develop new muscle memory faster.

Step-by-Step Process to Keep Your Guide Hand Quiet

Here’s a step by step process that will break this bad shooting habit and keep your guide hand quiet...

Week 1

Step 1 – Put on the J-strap as explained in this video:

Step 2 – Shoot 50 shots away from the basket. You can shoot to a spot on the wall or a line on the floor. Focus on perfect technique for every shot. Take your time. Make sure you have good foot positions, correct grip, etc.

Focus on shooting straight and holding your follow through with perfect technique.

Step 3 – Shooting 50 form shots at the basket. Take your time, shooting about 4 feet from the basket.

Step 4 – Shoot 50-100 mid-range shots. Take 50-100 shots slowly moving away from the basket...

Start 8 feet from the basket. Take 10-20 shots. If you make at least 60% you can move back to one foot (so you now are shooting 9 feet from the basket). Repeat the process and continue moving back one foot at a time until you complete 50-100 shots.

Step 5 – Go home and rest. Return to the gym the following day. Repeat the process (step 1 -4) for one week.

After one week you should have taken over 1000 shots with correct technique… keeping your guide hand still.

Week 2

Repeat the process above WITHOUT the J-strap.

After each shot, check to make sure your guide hand does not move. Make sure the thumb on your guide hand is pointing back towards your head. If it is, that means your guide hand stayed quiet! Good job!

As shown in the picture to the right, your guide hand stays to the side and does not influence the flight of the ball.

Continue shooting. Take your time. Make sure each rep is perfect.

If possible, film yourself shooting to make sure your guide hand is quiet.

CoachesEye has a great app that lets you analyze your shot in slow motion. (Be sure to use 60 FPS so you can see your hand movement clearly.)

If you find your guide hand is still moving, put the J-strap back on and repeat the process from week 1.

Final Thoughts

The solution to breaking a habit is simple. Create a new habit by taking thousands of repetitions the new way.

Unfortunately it is much easier said than done!

We found the process above is a surefire way to get results. Give it a try and let us know what you think.

You can get the J-strap and other shooting aids here.


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Sophia N. says:
4/5/2017 at 1:10:19 AM

I stopped shooting with two hands and now can't shoot threes. Any tips?
Thanks... :)

  1 reply  

Future star says:
9/18/2020 at 3:57:09 PM

I have the same problem. However my coach told me to step in for a month and then when I returned to the threes I shot well again. DO NOT SHOOT THREES UNLESS YOU HAVE NAILED MECHANICS. This is what made me shoot with two hands in the first place. I was just chucking it up no form all power. Start around free throw and score 90 percent from midrange before going near. 3 . Remember, you will miss often with a new shooting form. Fight through the misses and you will start scoring. (If you are still missing after a while then somethings wrong)


Alex Markos says:
12/24/2016 at 10:55:04 AM

I understand the thumb on the guide n keeping the elbow in .. but I have someone where their fingers moves and curl up like playing a clarinet on the ball before they shoot.. would the strap help spread the hand so he will not do this Or another answer for the moving fingers

  1 reply  

Jeff says:
12/27/2016 at 8:18:00 AM

I don't think the strap will help with that and assuming you're referring to the guide hand, I can't think of any training device that would help with that.

You'll just have to develop muscle memory by spending a lot of time monitoring and slowing building.... probably away from the basket and even without a ball at first. Slowly work towards a shot getting thousands of reps doing it the correct way.


nosair says:
6/16/2015 at 10:14:48 AM

thanks for this interesting technic


Jukka Mantere says:
5/8/2015 at 5:37:14 PM

I do not know of these aids. I like to teach from the very beginning, young or old, small or big:

Raise the ball up your help hand under the basketball. Almost like serving the bb up. Little finger and ring finger touching the the ball last on the moment when the basketball is above my eyes. The thumb goes out, never touching ball when travelling up.

Shooting hand (fingers on ball) on top of the basketball - relaxed. When the ball travel up the shooting hands wrist goes a bit back and guide the basketball to the back net.

You can use the same method in all lay ups, flouters, hook shots, half court shots etc.

Also rocking the ball in lay ups goes away. It si important that you teach the jumping (heel first on the floor) and middle body balance.

Just try it amd you love it and you can forget the thumb motion.


Coach Lambert says:
5/5/2015 at 1:09:17 PM

Amazing stuff for Ballerz of all ages. Average players do not think about this stuff, therefore remain average!


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