A hook shot, in basketball, is a play in which the offensive player, usually turned perpendicular to the basket, gently throws the ball with a sweeping motion of his arm in an upward arc with a follow-through which ends over his head. Unlike the jump shot, it is shot with only one hand; the other arm is often used to create space between the shooter and the defensive player. The shot is quite difficult to block, but few players have mastered the shot more than a few feet from the basket.
The hook shot was reportedly performed for the first time in official games in Eurobasket 1937 by Pranas Talzūnas, a member of the eventual champions, the Lithuania basketball team. Former Harlem Globetrotter Goose Tatum is often credited with inventing the hook shot; he would even shoot them without looking at the basket. The hook shot later became a staple of many players in the NBA, including notable stars such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, and Yao Ming.
The hook shot became a trademark of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the National Basketball Association's all-time leading scorer, who was proficient at the shot at a much greater distance from the basket than most players. The greater distance and resulting higher arc on the shot led to the name skyhook, which was coined during Abdul-Jabbar's tenure with the Milwaukee Bucks by the team's radio announcer, Eddie Doucette, who felt that "that hook was so high that it was coming out of the sky". The skyhook was rarely blocked, and it was accomplished by only a few players like Wilt Chamberlain and Manute Bol.
Due to the increasingly physical nature of low post basketball, the "jump hook" has become a more popular style of hook shot, and has been employed by many players including centers Shaquille O'Neal and Dwight Howard. The player jumps off using two feet, instead of taking steps and then jumping off using one foot. The jump hook provides for better balance as well as a quicker release, though the shot will not be released from as high in the air. According to Hakeem Olajuwon, it is a "necessary shot that every center should have", because it is very difficult to block.