I’ve played basketball my whole life. From the time I was a kid up to playing basketball at the collegiate level, the teams I played on would all start practice the same way: layup lines.
Layups are the absolute cornerstone of basketball.
It is the first thing new basketballers should learn when picking up the sport.
While it is the closest shot to the basket, it’s not always the easiest shot to make.
Trust me, I still remember years ago missing a game-winning layup. (I’m not going to say it haunts my dreams, but I do experience flashbacks here and there. Very humbling.)
The layup shot is one of the most basic and fundamental skills in basketball.
It’s a move that requires you to dribble, run, and jump, all while maintaining control of the ball and avoiding defenders.
While it may seem easy at first glance, learning and mastering how to do a layup shot takes time and practice.
In this blog, I’ll be sharing some helpful tips and techniques that can help you develop your layup skills and take your game to the next level.
So grab a pair of some of the best basketball shoes point guards, or whatever shoes you have with you. Then lace them up, and let’s get started!
What is a Layup?
A layup is simply a shot in basketball. The difference between a layup and a jump shot is that a layup is a shot a player takes while running toward the basket.
In essence, you’re dribbling toward the basket, then once you get to a specific spot, jumping off your left foot towards the basket with your right knee up and finishing near the rim with a right handed lay up.
(Apologies to all of the lefties in advance. I’m a right handed player, so these instructions will be the opposite on the other side of the basket. On a left handed lay up, you’ll be going toward the basket on the left side, jumping off your right foot with your left knee up, and finishing with your left hand.)
Reasons You Need to Know How to Do A Layup
Players at all levels shoot layups.
Imagine you’re on a fast break with a defender trailing you. You don’t want to stop at the free throw line and take a jump shot because that shot has a low percentage chance of going in versus getting to the rim and laying the ball up off the glass.
It’s like running an entire marathon and stopping with 30 feet left to walk through the finish line.
Step-by-Step Instructions On Shooting Lay Ups
All making sense so far? Good.
I realize there’s a lot of technical stuff that goes into a layup. Whether you should use your right leg when going up or jump off your left foot.
This will take time to master.
I recommend finishing this post and then going out and practicing your layups immediately after while the information is fresh in your mind.
Without further ado, let’s get to some tips!
1. Start with the Basics
You can’t learn the advanced moves in basketball without learning the basics.
No one has ever learned how to do a reverse lay up or finger roll without first mastering a regular overhand layup.
Trust me, I asked around.
Before you young players can master the perfect layup shot, you need to work on your fundamentals.
This means practicing your ball handling, footwork, and shooting techniques. Make sure you’re comfortable with the ball in your hand and can move around the court.
Start by practicing with your strong hand, and then move on to practicing with your weaker hand.
2. Work on Your Footwork
Footwork is crucial when it comes to performing a layup shot correctly.
Practice the steps slowly, and then get faster and faster.
Start about three or four steps away from the basket at an angle that has you facing where the rim meets the backboard.
Right handed players start on the right, and left handed players start on the left.
Right handed players: step toward the basket with your right foot, then your left. You’ll then jump off your left foot toward the hoop. Your right knee should come up as if your right elbow and right knee have a string attached, and your elbow is pulling your knee with it.
Then shoot the ball.
Do this over and over until it feels comfortable.
3. Develop Your Shooting Technique
When it comes to the layup shot, you’ll want to use the backboard.
Push the ball up and toward the top right corner of the white square on the backboard. Follow through like you would on a regular jump shot.
As you shoot, be sure to extend your arm fully and flick your wrist to give the ball backspin.
4. Practice, Practice, Practice
The key to mastering the perfect layup shot is practicing consistently. Set aside time every day to work on your layup skills.
First and foremost, master the footwork. Once you’ve mastered that, you can take a step back from the basket and add a dribble.
A good starting point for young players is to make five shots and then go to the other side. As a basketball player, you’ll need to be able to make layups using both your dominant and non-dominant hands.
Work on both your strong and weak hands, and practice shooting from different angles and distances.
5. Stay Focused and Confident
Finally, when performing a layup shot, it’s important to stay focused and confident.
Don’t let the pressure of the game or the presence of defenders distract you.
Keep your eyes on the rim and believe in yourself. With practice and persistence, you’ll be able to perform the perfect layup shot with ease.
Key Considerations for How to Do A Layup
You will not be able to magically do a layup correctly the first time you walk onto a basketball court.
It may even feel like walking on the moon to some of you.
You need to be consistent in your practice habits. Practice your layups over and over and over every day for a while.
Eventually, the dribbling, footwork, and timing will all come together, and you’ll be learning more advanced layup variations like a reverse layup or a euro step.
Also, one overlooked aspect is the cleanliness of your basketball. You need to know how to clean a basketball in order to ensure a good grip.
Taking It to The Next Level: How to Do a Reverse Lay up
For a reverse layup, your jumping-off point will be directly under the rim instead of a few steps away from the basket.
This will allow you to finish on the other side of the rim without having to long jump your way there.
Then everything is the opposite. If you start from the right side of the basket, you’ll be jumping up off your right foot and finishing with your left hand, and vice versa if you start on the left side of the basket.
Like a regular layup, it will take some time to get the hang of, but with practice, you’ll be there in no time!
Alternative Methods on How to Do A Layup
Variations include reverse layups, euro steps, and dunking.
While it’s nice to do the last one, it’s usually reserved for players that are a bit older.
I’d also say you will need to master the basics before moving on to various alternatives.
You must walk before you can run.
I remember as a kid just starting out in basketball and learning how to shoot a layup.
It took time, and it wasn’t always a work of art. There were more than likely tears shed through frustration and self-doubt. We all go through those times.
Those times are temporary. If you work hard enough and believe in yourself, you’ll get to where you want to be and score layups like it’s nobody’s business.
The layup shot may seem like a simple move, but mastering it takes practice and skill.
By focusing on the basics, improving your footwork, developing your shooting technique, practicing consistently, and staying focused and confident, you can take your layup skills to the next level.
Remember, it’s all about practice and persistence, so keep working at it, and you’ll see improvement in no time!
Can You Take 3 Steps for A Layup?
The rule in basketball is that you get one-and-a-half steps before a referee will call traveling.
Half-a-step? What, do I step on my tippy toes?
A half-step is considered a plant and jump on the same foot. For a right-handed layup, a half-step is when you step with your left foot and jump toward the basket.
How Do You Do a Left Handed Lay Up?
Jump off your right foot, lift your left knee up, and shoot with your left hand.
For right-handers, this can take a while to master, but don’t give up!
How Do You Do an Underhand Layup?
Same footwork as a basic layup. When you jump off your left foot, scoop the ball up like you’re bowling.
I recommend being a little farther from the basket on this one so you don’t throw the ball off the bottom of the backboard.
Who’s The Best At Layups?
If you want to learn how to shoot layups by studying players, check out Steph Curry. He’s a wizard with the ball.