November 2, 2009


Finishing is a general term for the shots close to the basket which differ from a jump shot. These shots include lay-ups, but there are other finishes including hook shots, floaters and runners. With young players, emphasize the basic lay-ups.

General Lay-up Technique

  • The final step should be low and the knee should flex to absorb the force of slowing the horizontal momentum and directing it vertically to the basket.
  • Start with the hand behind the ball.
  • Protect the ball from the defense. Do not rock the cradle: rocking the ball to the inside before exploding into the shot.
  • Bring your off-hand to the ball; do not bring the ball to your off-hand.
  • Jump up, not out (like a rocket not an airplane) when shooting a lay-up; it is a high jump, not a broad jump.
  • Aim for the near top corner of the square on the backboard.
  • Hit the backboard on the way down to soften the shot. Focus your eyes on your target, the spot where you want the ball to hit.

Power Lay-ups

  • Use a jump stop or stride stop to stop on two feet and establish balance.
  • Use an athletic stance or a power stance: feet wider than an athletic stance and hips lower, more like sitting in a chair.
  • Jump off two feet.
  • Square shoulders to the backboard; use your body’s width to protect the ball.
  • Use the outside hand (right hand on the right side) to shoot.
  • Use when your advantage is height or strength. Use to improve balance and stay under control on the shot. [Video 8]

Traditional Lay-up

    • Jump off the opposite foot: to shoot a right-handed lay-up, jump off the left foot.
    • Imagine a string connects the elbow and the knee; as the elbow moves up to shoot it pulls the knee on the same side.
    • Drive the outside knee higher than the hip.
    • Use when your advantage is quickness.

Lay-up Teaching Progression 1: Two-Step Lay-up (right-hand)

  • Start with feet together.
  • Step with right foot and dribble.
  • Step with left foot, pick-up the dribble, jump and shoot the lay-up. [Video10]

Lay-up Teaching Progression 2: One-dribble, three-step lay-up (right-hand)

  • Move to the elbow and use three steps; for a right-handed lay-up, step left-right-left.
  • Step with the left foot and dribble. Step with the right foot and pick up the dribble.
  • Step with the left foot, jump and shoot.
  • Stride on each step to cover ground; eliminate baby steps and stutter-steps. [Video 11]

Reverse Lay-up

    • Use the right hand on the left hand side and the left hand on the right side.
    • Use when dribbling along the baseline or when extending past a defender anticipating a regular lay-up. Turn your back toward the baseline and your chest to the court.
    • Shoot over your head while traveling away from the rim.
    • Turn your hand to finish your shot with your fourth and fifth fingers touching the ball last. As you shoot the ball, rotate your hand with your pinky finger leading your other fingers toward your nose.
    • Wave good-bye to the basket as you finish.
    • Finish with your palm to your target.

Crossover Lay-up

    • Use the right hand on the right side and the left hand on the left side.
    • Move across the front of the rim (using the rim to protect the shot) and finish on the other side of the rim. Face the baseline.
    • With shoulders parallel to the backboard, finish with a “hook-like” motion with the hand and wrist.




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