How to Perform Layups

Performing layups is an art that takes lots of practice. It’s worth practicing as layups are an integral part of basketball. A layup requires coordination along with power and strength. 

You will also need good hand-eye coordination to make layups regularly. The wrists have to snap at exactly the right time while being around the basket requires power and strength.

The layup is also important because its a way to apply pressure on your opponent while helping you score. This makes layups a valuable skill for any basketball player. 

This article covers the basics of layup shots and what it takes to make layups in a controlled fashion, along with several drills and moves that can assist layup performance and accuracy.

Steps for Performing Layups

1. Eyes Up

To start, raise your eyes. This is important for two reasons:

a. To Lock onto the Target

The angle and speed of the player along with their goal will be getting to the hoop or the backboard. 

b. To Read the Defense

As soon as a player makes a layup, several defenders will move across to help and block the shot.

To read the movements of the defenders, the player doing the layup must raise their eyes and use peripheral vision to look at defenders from all sides.

This helps the player figure out which layup variation has the best chance of success (or which teammate is now open to receive a pass).

2. Outside Foot Step (Long)

When a player picks up the basketball, they should step with their “outside” foot, not their “inside” (closest to the sideline). Keep in mind two things…

(1) Long Step

Move farther with the first step and a long step also helps get closer to the goal.

(2) Controlled

Players must keep control of their body as they lay up. You don’t want to just run toward the hoop and then throw the ball hard off the backboard. Instead take your time so you have a better chance of getting a basket.

3. Inside Foot Step (High)

This is the second step in a traditional layup. You should use your inside foot for this (closest to the middle of the court).

This is the left foot for layups with a right hand.

This is the right foot for making layups with your left hand.

This is a very high jump.

The emphasis on jumping high provides the momentum to finish the layup.

Once you leap from the other foot, this will thrust your shooting-side knee into the air.

For layups made with the right hand, the right knee goes down. Layups with the left hand: Knee with the left hand.

4. Protect the Ball

Players must keep the ball safe while they try to make a layup.

Two things to look for:

a. Getting Stripped

During the two steps, alert defenders will try to take the ball away from the offensive player and run with it.

The offensive player must have strong hands and keep the ball close to his or her body to avoid this.

b. Blocked

When the offensive player moves the ball up or releases it, tall defenders will try to stop the shot.

Fouls are more likely to occur when non-shooting hands defend the ball.


Video: Shooting a layup

5. Continuity

Of course, top importance is lots of practice. Practice can help with continuity.

Take the ball above your head, extend your arm, and flick your wrist to direct the ball into the hoop.

Traditional overhand layups are a lot like standard jump shots when it comes to this part of the layup method.

Do not push the basketball up from your chest rather than raise it above your heads before shooting. This is a sign of not having enough strength to finish the move. This isn’t a big deal when young, but be sure to break this habit when you get older and stronger.

6. Practice

As mentioned above, practice is important. Once you’ve learned the correct layup technique, it’s time to have layup practice.

This is what a coach would help you with…

a. Different Angles and Speeds

Layup drills should be done where players try to get to the hoop from a lot of different places on the court and at different speeds.

  • Left/right

  • The face of the rim

  • Following the base

They must be able to drive to the basket from any point on the court.

b. Right Hand and Left Hand

Only use dominant hand when learning to make a layup.

Make sure to start using both hands when you’ve mastered the correct technique and built up the strength needed.

c. Competition

Every practice should include drills on how to lay up and how to compete in a scrimmage against your friends.

It might be hard at first to play against other people. There might be a traveling violation, or a jump off the wrong foot, or taking two steps too quickly. But in the long run, there’s benefit from competition.

It’s important to remember layup technique drills and layup competition drills should be used for players of all ages and abilities. Even the best basketball players constantly work on their layup technique during practice.

For younger players, focus on getting plenty of reps driving to the hoop before adding layup competition. The layup might seem simple with enough practice. It’s one of the most effective ways to score in basketball.