Layups and Finishing – How to Make Layups

Going to the basket is one of the best ways to score in basketball.  When you get shots in or around the basket there is a high likelihood of scoring OR getting fouled….and foul shots are the easiest way to score.  Today we are going to go through how to make layups.  So whether you are just starting out as a basketball player or you are a coach or parent looking to teach your team how to make layups.  This is where you want to start!

How to Make Layups

The most basic way to finish is the one foot / one hand layup.  It is one of the most basic shots in basketball, and one of the first shots people are taught in their basketball training.  It is relatively simple, however there are some basics and fundamental things that are ignored and will keep you from being a great player.

Footwork & Approach

First off, as you approach the hoop you should follow the same rules you follow when dribbling.  You should have your eyes up because at any time you may encounter help defense or have a teammate more open than you.

As you get close to the hoop you should take one last hard dribble then plant the inside foot, followed by launching off the outside foot.  This is a simple one – two step.

Jump / Launch

When you jump it is as if your elbow and knee are connected.  When your arm and the basketball go up, your knee comes up at the same time.  This gives you the correct momentum & trajectory towards the hoop and it also helps you shield the ball from the defender.

One common problem young players have is jumping “out” instead of jumping “up”.  Advanced players need to be able to finish regardless of where they jump from, but younger players need to focus on learning how to finish.  When a player jumps “out”, this means they are jumping from too far away from the basket.  This results in too much momentum and the ball ends up being thrown to hard off the backboard resulting in a missed shot.  A player should try to take off from a bit closer to the hoop; we call this jumping “up”.  It is more of a high jump than a long jump.  Jump up, not out!

Ball Position

A common issue with layups is leaving the ball too low.  This leaves it open to getting stolen by a defender.  The correct mechanics is to bring the ball up off the dribble directly to the middle of your body or your outside shoulder.  This is where you are the strongest with the ball and where it is most protected from the defense.

Ball Release

There are two options for finishing the layup, overhand and underhand.  The underhand finish allows more control.  The hand is actually underneath the ball and as you finish, you allow the ball to roll off the fingertips and then off the backboard.  The overhand finish has the hand behind the ball similar to how you shoot. When you get to the backboard you push it forward gently to finish. Many younger players start with the overhand method because they have small hands and they are not yet able to do the underhand layup.  That is okay, but the overhand finish can cause you to the throw the ball harder off the glass because the shooting motion combined with you running toward the hoop force the ball to go harder than it goes in the underhand method.

The finish

When you actually shoot the ball, your target should be on the sides of the square on the backboard somewhere between the middle and the top of the square.

Be sure on your layups to go up strong, but try to finish with a soft touch.  Aggressive on the attack, gentle on the finish!

Good luck, be sure to leave comments and questions!

Once you have worked through these fundamentals it is time to move on to this post: Layup drills for beginners

Then you will want to master our basketball finishing layup series

About Joe Lucas

Joe Lucas is the founder of The World of Hoops. DSC_8916 He has 25 years of experience playing basketball, training basketball players, and coaching basketball. The World of Hoops provides intelligent and intense basketball training to take basketball players to the next level.

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