It is a fundamental skill in the game of basketball. Defense comes first, but you must also outscore your opponent in order to win. And the layup is the most efficient way to do it.
The Layup is a simple move. A close-range, high-percentage shot, worth 2 points.
But, trust me…
If you want to score more points, increase your shooting percentage, and become an impact player, layups are crucial.
Consider a game situation… It’s crunch time. There’s 6 seconds on the clock. Your opponent just scored. They are up one. Coach calls a timeout. She draws up a play… Is the ball going to be in your hands? Are you prepared to take it to the rim and win the game?
Some players might say the layup is easy and spend little to no time working on that skill. They might go for the more flashy, 3-point shot. I would like to remind those players of the original 3-point play. Perfect the layup and rack up the points with the and-one.
Fundamentals come first.
A layup is the highest percentage shot in the game of basketball. But you won’t find consistency, if you don’t focus on the foundation.
It starts with ball handling and footwork. Work on your rip-through. Practice the blow-by step past your defender. Dribble with BOTH hands.
To execute a proper layup, you must protect the ball. Use long strides and rip the ball to your ear. Position yourself between the defender and the ball. Power through and finish the shot. And please…
Use the glass! There is a box on the backboard for a reason. If you hit the top corner of the box, you should get the bucket every time.
How to Make MORE Layups
Repetition is key.
Practice your layup at game-speed.
Get a teammate or coach to defend you.
The more consistent your layup is, the more deadly you become. Strive to never miss. And if the defender fouls you… make the shot anyway. Be unstoppable.
Now take it to the next level.
As I said, the layup is simple, but it is far from boring.
It’s an opportunity to showcase your athleticism. To be creative and let your love for the game shine through.
If you’re not sure what I mean… check out Kyrie Irving’s highlight reel. His finishes around the rim are beautiful to watch. He has an answer for every defender. His ability to maneuver in the air and still get the bucket is impressive. But those incredible shots are, in essence, just variations of the layup.
Watch the details. Footwork. Eyes on the rim. Read the defenders. Adjust. Finish.
So how do YOU take your layup from basic to Kyrie? Here’s a place to start…
The Super Six (Top 6 Types of Layups)
Check out these six variations of a basketball layup. Expand your repertoire. Add these to your next workout. Challenge yourself to make 10 in a row. Work both sides of the court.
- Standard Layup
This is square one. The first layup you should master.
Proper footwork is important. You should be taking two steps on the approach. You want to be able to make your layup, in stride, attacking the rim.
When attacking from the right side, pick up your dribble as you step with your right foot. As you take your second step with your left foot, direct your momentum upward. Finish the shot with your right hand. From the left side, finish with the left hand. You can finish with a traditional finger roll, scoop, or overhand shot.
The best players in the game can attack both sides of the floor. If you can only attack from your dominant side, you cut your scoring opportunities in half. You become easy to predict and easy to defend.
- Power Layup
The power layup utilizes a jump stop rather than 2 strides to the basket. Use the jump stop to square your body to the basket with shoulders parallel to the backboard. Then power through your legs and finish the shot. The power layup is a great move for guards and posts alike.
Post players can utilize this move to initiate contact. Use your body to create space from the defender. The jump stop allows more stability in the air and control to finish the shot. The power layup is a great tool to increase scoring percentage and opportunities for and-one plays.
Guards and smaller players can utilize the power layup as well. Add a pump fake to get the defender off balance and prevent them from blocking your shot.
- Reverse Layup
Great basketball players make layups from all angles. The reverse layup allows players to attack the rim from one side and finish on the opposite side using the basket to help create space from the defender.
The reverse layup can be performed from the front side of the rim or from the baseline. When attacking from the left side, dribble with your left hand. As you approach the rim, plant your right foot in the middle of the lane. Direct your momentum upward and to the right. Put a little spin on the ball and finish with the left hand.
When attacking from the left side baseline, dribble with your left hand. Approach the rim, plant your left foot in the middle of the lane, under the basket. As you go up for the shot, switch the ball from your left shoulder to the right and finish with your right hand.
When performing a reverse lay-up add a little spin to the ball on your shot. Utilize the backboard and hit the top corner of the box.
- Euro Step
The Euro Step is a change of direction move made popular by European players in the NBA. It is meant to provoke a reaction from the defender and open up a scoring opportunity.
The euro step is very much like the standard, 2 step approach to a layup. However, instead of taking two steps directly toward the basket, you make your first step hard to one side. Then take a long, lateral step to the opposite side as you finish the layup.
To successfully perform a Euro Step, you have to sell it. Make the defender believe you are going hard in one direction. As you take your first step, the defender should react and shift their momentum to cover the drive. Once you get the defender off balance, you can step hard in the opposite direction, creating space to finish the shot.
The Euro Step is all about action and reaction. Use this move from all angles of the court.
This one is for all my vertically-challenged players. Those that want to attack the rim, but know that there are some shot blockers lurking in the paint.
A floater, also known as a runner or teardrop, is a high-arching shot at close range. The footwork on the approach to the rim is the same as a standard layup, but the shot is taken a little further away from the basket.
To effectively execute a floater, you must have a quick release and touch around the rim. Unlike most layups that utilize the backboard, you “float” the ball high above the reach of the taller defenders inside and let it drop down through the hoop. The floater requires a bit more finesse on the shot and practice is crucial for consistency.
The last of the Super Six is the double clutch, also referred to as the switch-up. It is a great move for the guards and smaller players that aren’t afraid to mix it up with the bigs inside. It allows players to avoid the second, help-side defender and potential shot blockers.
But, it is not easy to do…
You’re gonna need to have some serious hang time for this move.
The double-clutch is a mid-air change of ball position. It can be performed from multiple-angles on the court. When driving from the right side with the ball in your left hand, attack the middle of the paint. When you reach the lane line, go up for the shot with your left hand. While in the air, switch the ball to your right side and finish the shot with your right hand. You can also attack the block from the right side, dribbling with your right hand, and finishing with your left hand in the middle of the lane.
Layups are Limitless
The layup is arguably the most essential offensive skill in the game of basketball. It is a simple shot that, when mastered, allows players to efficiently score more points and increase their shooting percentage. But more than that…
It is a chance to flaunt your athleticism. To be an impact player. A chance to entertain and let your creativity flow. Whether it’s Danielle Robinson’s scoop, Maya Moore’s incredible reverse, or John Wall’s 360° switch-up, variations of the layup are limited only by the athlete’s imagination. Establish the fundamentals. Expand your repertoire with the Super Six and level-up your layup.