There isn’t a better sight in basketball than seeing a ball racing down the court on a fast break, before the defense are caught off guard, leading to a big slam dunk! Now as good as it would be to do this, being beginners, it’d be unlikely. Instead we might take a step back for now, focusing on performing lay-ups. Lay-ups are a widely used skill in the sport of basketball no matter what age or standard. Even professionals constantly elect to perform lay-ups as a means of scoring (albeit a little more extravagantly). According to many basketball coaches of the world, the standard understanding of a layup is that it is “the action of a player dribbling towards the hoop, taking two steps, and then laying the basketball into the hoop off the backboard” (Basketball for coaches, https://www.basketballforcoaches.com/how-to-do-a-layup/). Despite sounding simple, a player will be faced with many challenges when attempting to perform a layup, whilst the skill itself can also be performed with many different variations. A layup will always be shot from within close proximity of the ring and awarded two points. Alright, let’s get straight to it…how to perform a layup thanks to SportsPower Geelong!
Hopefully beginners have been able to practice their dribbling and shooting as a result of our previous basketball “How to” segments, because really a layup is a mixture of both skills. The first step of the layup process involves a pretty simple yet important feature. Open your eyes! Ensure you dribble with your head up when preparing to layup. This means that you can aim for the correct spot of the backboard when shooting, as well as being aware of surrounding defenders, allowing you to evade or prevent any would-be stealers. In the heat of competition, the environment is always changing, therefore it’s good to teach the good habits of having your head up whilst driving to the ring from early stages of development.
The next part of the process involves the two steps taken before shooting. Once you are close enough to the ring to take two steps and shoot on the run, you should hold the ball and protect the ball. Protecting the ball allows one to protect themselves from being blocked or stripped of the ball. Similarly to dribbling, this may involve using an arm bar to protect their ball space. Furthermore, a firm grip of the ball should be utilised to eliminate any chance of being stripped by an opponent. Now that we’ve made sure the ball is protected, let’s get to the essence of the layup – the two steps. Once the ball is secured and protected, the first step is taken. This step is to be taken by the outside leg (closest to sideline). This step should be performed with control with the aim of gaining a large distance. To control this step the player should look to slightly decelerate beforehand, allowing a stable base to spring off. The next step will be performed off the inside leg (closest to midline of court). Note that the inside and outside legs are based off shooting using your right hand when on the right side of the ring and shooting through your left hand when left of the ring. Hence, your final step should be off the foot opposite to your shooting arm. Continuing on, the second step should be performed with the aim of jumping for height rather than length. The first step should’ve given you the length to be in a good position already. A higher jump will give you more upward momentum towards the ring, ultimately making it an easier shot.
The final piece of this puzzle involves the shot and follow through. Now you’ve taken your two steps and have put yourself into a good position, it’s time to finish off the hard work! The shot involved with a layup will frequently vary based on the scenario in a game. However, the basic principles of keeping your eye on the target, whether that be the ring or the backboard, and then following through with your shooting hand will remain!
And how easy it that?! An essential tool for any basketballer so best to get practicing. Start off with basic layups off just one or two shots, establishing the basic of it. Once feeling comfortable, move to incorporating a dribble or even defender into the movement. Keep working on these lay-ups and who knows? An Air Jordan-esque dunk may be just around the corner.