A lay-up is how many professional basketball players become distinguished in the game. Some of them have developed characteristic lay-ups that the fans want to see, and it is one of the best ways to develop your own style.
A lay-up is simply a drive toward the basket for a two-point attempt, and laying the ball up near the basket. The one-hand reach distinguishes this basic kind of shot from a jump shot.
Try different kinds of lay-ups using different hands. There is an overhand and underhand lay-up, depending on how you prefer to handle the ball and shoot. If you will be dunking the ball, you’ll be using an overhand lay-up.
When you are practicing, coaches will say to slow down on the lay-up and master the technique first before you try to build up speed.
After you stop dribbling, you are allowed to take two steps before shooting or passing the ball. This is why learning how to master a lay-up is also important, particularly if you are stuck under or near the basket.
Many players prefer a one-foot lay-up where you run toward the basket, and when near it, jump off on one of your feet toward the basket and then shoot with the opposite hand. So, in general, if you are right handed, you will jump with the left foot and shoot with the right, but it’s better to practice shooting with either hand to give yourself the freedom to choose.
A two-foot lay-up is used when you are near the basket and you are passed the ball, and you jump for the shot with both feet.
Aim the ball within the top two corners of the square on the backboard of the basket. Aiming for this area can assure you make the basket more easily, but don’t shoot too hard, or it will bounce off and not go into the basket.
Coach Wayne Wharton, suggests that your feet always be moving while you’re on the court. He offers a drill using short quick strides by moving your feet in a ladder, and then hitting the pole with a basketball. (See video below). These exercises can help with lay-ups.
Wharton also suggests other drills to help with lay-ups, such as using cones to map out interferences that you may encounter during a game, and also being restrained and held back with a tether while trying to make a lay-up. These techniques help you anticipate issues that will come up in a game.
Wharton also demonstrates ways to throw off an opponent, by bouncing the ball between his legs and around his back, and faking his advance in one direction, but quickly switching to another direction. (See video below). Another drill shown in the video includes the use of a tennis ball and by having another ball to focus on, you can master control of your basketball and figure out openings how to advance the ball, or take a shot.
Before working on your lay-ups, you may want to practice the techniques first without even a ball. This way, the footwork and handwork becomes entrenched in your muscle memory. Run the technique over and over, including the jump and the arm movements, and then eventually introduce the ball in the maneuver. That should help build your technique.
Add variations to the lay-up by coming at it from different angles and different speeds. Use cones and other obstacles to pretend as if they are opposing players.
Remember to keep the ball, and your feet, moving at all times, and keep an eye on the opponent’s moves.
Coach Wharton says, “A good lay-up uses all the major skills you need to master basketball. Using the workout drills with the ladder and the resistance exercise will help you work on the skills needed to perform a good lay-up.”