In youth basketball, coaches should utilize a variety of lay-up drills that focus on different things, such as speed lay-ups, contested lay-ups and bad angle lay-ups because lay-ups determine the outcome of games. The following is a half-court lay-up drill focused on footwork, finishing with both hands and utilizing a good first step to minimize dribbles and maximize offensive efficiency.
The drill is simple. Each player makes three of each kind of lay-up before switching to the left side (a total of 24 lay-ups in the entire drill). Every lay-up starts on the wing at the three-point line, free throw line extended. As the previous player goes, players spin the ball and catch on a one-count or jump stop with knees bent and butt low. Each move uses only one dribble and three steps. Players must learn to extend with the dribble on their first step.
EXTENSION LAY-UP DRILL
- Lay-up (right foot pivot): Use a crossover step with the left foot and extend with the right-hand dribble. Jump off the left foot and finish with a right-hand lay-up,
- Reverse Lay-up (right foot pivot): Use a crossover step with the left foot and extend with the right-hand dribble. On the final step, with the left foot, extend into the middle of the key, jump off the left leg and finish with a right-handed reverse lay-up on the left side of the rim.
- Inside-hand Lay-up (left foot pivot): Step directly to the basket with right foot and dribble with the right hand. Jump off the right foot and finish with a left-hand lay-up. The footwork feels awkward for most right-hand dominant players, as they squeeze in an extra step to jump off the left foot. Ask players to vocalize their steps, saying “Right, left, right, lay-up,” if they really struggle.
- Crossover Lay-up (left foot pivot): Use a crossover step with the right foot toward the front of the rim and dribble with the left hand. Jump off the right foot and finish with a left-handed lay-up on the left side of the court.
This drill forces good footwork and emphasizes staying in stride, as opposed to shortening the steps to get to the “correct” foot. It also works on different finishes, rather than only working on a lay-up with hand behind the ball at the proper angle.
Beyond the finishes, this drill teaches a proper drive step or first step to the basket. Players will not believe that it is possible to reach the basket in one dribble from the three-point line until they try. Initially, many players will be unable to get to the basket because they dribble before taking their first step. A big first step and extending with the dribble will put the player closer to the basket compared to a player who does not go anywhere with his first dribble. A good drive step makes for a more dynamic offensive player.
When teaching the drive step, teach four things:
- Nose over toes, chest over knee with the drive step.
- Eyes to the rim.
- Extend with the dribble.
- Body up, body in: offensive player puts his shoulder on defensive player’s hip. Do not belly-out.
These concepts will create a more dynamic player. Too many players need six dribbles to create their own shot; in the flow of an offense, a player does not have six dribbles. By stepping directly past the defender, and extending with the first dribble, an offensive player will be open in one or two dribbles for a shot, a lay-up, or a dish to an open teammate.
By Brian McCormick
Director of Coaching, Playmakers Basketball Development League