Lay up

Its simplicity and layup make it easy to accept the shot as a given. It is the only shot in the family that requires ambidexterity, aside from the hook shot.


When approaching the basket, make sure you use the foot opposite the shooting hand to jump. This allows you to reach the basket at a more angle, can allow you to fully extend your arm, and can also create a barrier between yourself and your defender.


You should have enough distance between you and the basket for a comfortable landing at the basket.

As you start your ascent, keep the ball in front. Your helping hand can be used to protect the ball as it climbs up the backboard or rim.

Follow-up and release

Before you release the ball, you will need to turn your wrist counterclockwise so that the back of your hand is closest to the basket. Next, gently bank the ball against the backboard. Then aim for the top corner on the box’s shooting side, and into the basket.

Momentum will handle most of the follow-up on a breakaway layup. Be smooth, not jerky.

The Reverse Layup

Every layup is not a breakaway. Sometimes a defender is in the area near the basket. In these cases, you will need to adjust your layup. Sometimes, this could force you to re-arrange the ball.

Some may prefer the reverse layup as the goal act.

Reverse lay-ups are executed the same as basic breakaway lay ups. The only difference is that the step before the jump should be either directly on, or a fraction below the spot on the courts that lies just below the goal. Flip the ball back with a gentle flick of your wrist and bank it off to the side glass.

Straight to the middle

Many times you can drive right to the basket from in the middle of court. With the exception of the target, the mechanics of a layup down middle are the exact same.

This is because of your forward momentum. I only occasionally change my target from behind the rim and place it on the front. Forward momentum can cause players to overshoot, so I adjust my target. Jumpers are straight up, so your focus should be on the back side of the rim. Click to read more about the free throws and the jumper.

The Power moves

We will be covering a series of power moves from the post as well as the following important concepts that can also be used elsewhere on the court.

  • Drop
  • The Head Fake
  • Move to spin
  • The Put Back

How to practice

Lay-ups can be practiced by taking pictures. Practice lay-ups on both sides, with both hands. If you have full court access, practice breakaway layups from one basket to the next. This drill is great for conditioning and also helps improve your basketball handling.


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