Major Hoops Basketball Skills Training, Pasadena, California

How to Master the Layup in Basketball in 7 Steps

Learn how to master the layup in 7 easy steps! Discover the essential tips and strategies for executing a successful layup every time.

What is a Layup and Why Mastering it Matters

A layup is a type of basketball shot taken close to the basket. It is the easiest shot to score with because it relies on the ball’s momentum and not long-range accuracy. It often involves two steps, starting with a drive to the basket and then jumping off of one foot while using the other hand to softly lay the ball off the backboard and into the basket. Layups are usually taken from close range and involve quickly moving to an open spot on the court before taking the shot. The layup basketball shot is fundamental as part of a team’s offensive strategy or to create scoring opportunities when no other option is available.

Mastering the layup is essential to your basketball game and can give players a major advantage. It allows them to score more often and avoid turnovers since it is a relatively easy shot to make. The ability to make a layup also requires quick thinking and decision-making, as well as good footwork. By mastering the layup, players can get close to the rim while avoiding contact from defenders and capitalizing on opportunities that create a higher percentage of success. Layups are also important because they keep the ball moving on offense and create more open shots for teammates. Ultimately, mastering the layup is important in basketball because it helps players score more points while making fewer mistakes.

This article will focus on the traditional layup or ‘underhand layup’. This layup is best for quick attacks and requires dedicated basketball practice to get right. There are many other layup variations that you can learn which include:

  • the Euro step layup variation

  • the reverse layup

  • the power layup

  • left handed layups or right-handed layup (off-hand)

The overhand layup is an easier shot, however is less useful during actual basketball games and is better used when performing basketball drills.

Shooting lay ups

The basics of a layup

A layup is one of the most fundamental basketball moves. It is typically performed by a player dribbling towards the hoop and then taking off with two feet, laying the ball up with one hand off the backboard while in mid-air. The goal of a layup is to get close enough to the rim to quickly put the ball through the hoop without jumping too high. Layups are essential for scoring points and for helping create space for other players or getting yourself open for a better shot opportunity.

To do a layup effectively, it’s important to have good coordination and practice proper technique. Before every layup, players should ensure their feet are spread to get enough lift off the ground. When in the air, they should be aware of their body positioning and the time when they release the ball so it hits the backboard just right. In addition, players should focus on keeping their eyes on the rim throughout the entire process to help ensure the accuracy of their shots.

The starting position on the court is also important. Whether coming from the left side or the right side, players should begin in the lane near the free-throw line and stride toward the basket at a proper angle. When you jump, you should be within several feet of the hoop. It is important to time your approach correctly so that you have enough momentum to reach the rim and have a good chance at making the shot. You should follow through with the shot, moving past the hoop to the opposite side of the basket. If you move past the hoop and your first shot doesn’t make it into the hoop, you’ll be in a perfect position to regain the ball and take a jump shot or pass to another person for them to shoot.

Follow the seven steps below to improve your layup.

Step 1: Establish Proper Balance

When performing a layup in basketball, it is important to maintain proper balance for the most successful and efficient results. As you approach the basket, your body should be balanced on both feet to ensure maximum control when attempting the shot. Your arms should also be in sync with each other during the motion as they will help steer the ball toward the basket. Keeping your eyes focused on your target and concentrating on good form while shooting are also essential components of a successful layup. Once you have mastered these basics of maintaining balance and body control, you can start adding more advanced techniques like spinning, jumping off one foot, or adding in a finger roll to improve your accuracy and consistency further.

Step 2: Jump Off the Correct Foot

In basketball, jumping off the correct foot when performing a layup is essential for accuracy and momentum. When approaching the basket, players should aim to jump off of their dominant foot. This allows them to have better control as they move toward the hoop. Additionally, it provides more power and stability as they leap off of the ground. It also helps maintain balance as they shoot or pass the ball after making contact with the rim. Learning how to properly jump off the correct foot when performing a layup can greatly enhance a player’s offensive game and help them score points more efficiently.

When jumping off the right leg, you should place your left hand on the ball and take off with your right foot – this is a left-handed layup. Vice versa if you are jumping off the left leg – place your right hand on the ball and take off with your left foot. You can also jump evenly with both feet, but taking off from one side is usually more efficient. The key is to keep your body upright and make sure that your other hand is guiding the ball into the basket at all times as you take off and land.

It is important to focus on the placement of the dominant knee. Whether your dominant knee is the left knee or the right knee, it should be placed directly in front of the body and bent slightly to form a 90-degree angle at the hip. The other leg should remain slightly bent and straight behind the body. Also, both feet should be firmly planted on the ground while starting the layup. This will provide stability and power while shooting the layup. Additionally, your head and eyes should stay focused on where you want the ball to first touch the backboard, helping create accuracy and precision with your shot. Good timing and proper form will ensure you get a successful layup more often.

Step 3: Develop Good Timing

Developing good timing when performing a layup in basketball is essential for success. Timing consists of two parts: (1) when to leave the ground and (2) when to release the ball. To develop good timing, practice jumping off both feet simultaneously and releasing the basketball as close to the basket as possible. Aim for a consistent release point each time so you can get used to the feeling of leaving and releasing the ball at just the right moment.

If you’re struggling to get the timing right, go back to practicing the basics of ball handling and dribbling drills on a regular basis. This will help to cultivate an instinctive reaction to the direction and pace of the ball. Additionally, practice shooting layups from different angles and positions while paying attention to where your feet land as you approach the basket. When working on timing, try varying the speed of your movements to get comfortable with how it affects trajectories, bounces, and landing spots. Working on one-on-one drills with another player or a coach can also be beneficial in helping you develop good timing when shooting layups.

Step 4: Practice Faking Out Defenders

When practicing faking out defenders while performing a layup in basketball, it is important to focus on quickness, agility, and deception. When beginning the move, quickly plant your dominant foot and use a jump step or hop step to get past the defender. As you approach the basket, keep your shoulders squared so that you are facing the basket at all times and pump fake with your offhand (non-dominant hand) to draw the defender away from you. Finally, explode toward the basket with your dominant foot and use either a left-handed or right-handed layup, depending on which direction you need to shoot. You’ll become an expert at deceiving defenders and making successful layups with practice and patience.

Step 5: Aim for the Net, Not Just the Rim

When performing a layup in basketball, it is important to aim for the net, not just the rim. A successful layup involves making sure the ball goes through the hoop from a close range. If a player only aims for the rim, they may miss and lose control of their shot. To ensure a successful layup, focus on shooting for the net as well as the rim. This requires practice and patience, as shooting from an angle can be difficult.

The key is to use body control and focus on using your arms and legs to generate enough force for the shot. Aim at an angle slightly below or to the side of the backboard so you can get enough power and accuracy with your shot. Keep your dominant hand behind the ball as you push off your back foot and maintain a consistent shooting motion. Stay straight up, like you’ve got a string attached to the top of your head, when shooting instead of leaning too far forward. Finally, be sure to follow through with your shot so that it has the best chance of going in. With practice, aiming for the net will become second nature and help you take your game to a higher level.

Lay up basketball

Step 6: Strengthen Your Core Muscles for Improved Balance and Power

Strengthening your core muscles is essential for improved balance and power when performing layups in basketball. A strong core is beneficial in providing stability and a solid foundation for the arms and legs to work off of. A strong core will help you control your body more effectively on the court, allowing you to move quickly and with balance as you make your way up for a layup. By strengthening your core muscles, you can also generate more power when making a layup by giving yourself an explosive starting position. This increased power can give you an edge over your opponents as it will allow you to get up higher, get the ball high and close to the basket, and lead to an increased shot success rate. A stronger core can significantly reduce the risk of injury due to its role in providing more stability and strength for the lower body. Developing stronger core muscles is crucial for better balance and power when performing layups in basketball.

Step 7: Repetition is the key

Shooting layups in basketball is essential for players who want to become successful and excel on the court. Layups are one of the fundamental skills of basketball, requiring a combination of agility, coordination and precision. By practicing layups regularly, a player can build these three attributes which will help them score more points on the court. Mastering layups helps improve a player’s speed and quickness when approaching the basket, increasing their chance of scoring.

Layups can also be used to create space for a defender and draw them away from the basket, giving more room for other players to make their shots. Layups also provide an opportunity for players to use their body control as they have to be able to time their runs in order to make it all the way up the court and get off their shot without getting blocked by a defender. Practicing layups helps new players learn the fundamentals of basketball and helps experienced players refine their existing skills. Ultimately, regular practice of layups can help any player develop into a great scorer.

Layups and Younger Players

Practicing layups is an important skill for young players to learn. Layups are a fundamental part of any player’s offensive skill set. Working on this skill helps players develop balance, quickness, and accuracy in their shots. It also teaches them how to finish around the basket with either hand and allows them to practice using both footwork and body control when shooting. Practicing layups can give youth basketball players a strong foundation they can build on as they progress through their playing career.


As both a professional basketball and basketball coach, I can confidently say that practicing the layup is an essential skill for any player to have in their toolkit. When I played basketball, I used the layup to create space, score points, and set up assists. It is a versatile and valuable asset to an offensive player. Being able to rely on a solid layup helps maintain possession of the ball, which can often be the difference between success and failure on the court. By honing the layup, you can improve coordination and confidence, giving yourself an edge when competing against other teams. Practicing the layup is essential for anyone seeking to develop their game to its maximum potential.

If you want some help in perfecting your layup, hit me up and book a group session with your friends!


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