The lay-up is the highest percentage shot outside of the dunk. It is one of the very first skills that young players will attempt, and often is the stuff of nightmares for senior coaches whose teams can squander a certain two points in a moment with a poor attempt. The basic fundamentals around how to teach a lay-up have not changed, but within this simplicity of design is where many finer points of the technique are hidden.
One of the important points to do with the technique of a lay-up is body positioning. The body of the offensive player has a number of important effects upon the execution of the overall skill. When attacking the basket a player’s position and control can be affected by the defender, driving lane chosen and angle to the basketball hoop. As a player comes within one dribble of the hoop, prior to picking the ball up (and maybe taking two steps), they should start to improve their body positioning.
Body Position Helps keep all other Moving Parts in Check
When performing a lay-up if a player maintains their chest facing towards the basket they will ensure that their legs, arms and head are in the best possible position for the correct performance of a textbook technique. It is often when players allow themselves to rotate their torso that they start to lose balance and control which results in a harder, more difficult shot being created.
Poor body control leads to off-balance shots, loss of power and bad shots being taken for no other reason than a player working themselves into a poor situation. By maintaining or correcting their body position during a drive to the basket a player can be more effective with their attempted lay-up.
Maintaining a Square Body Position gives Options
When performing a lay-up in front the basket the principle still remains that a player should try to maintain their chest facing towards the basket. This is because if the player keeps their chest square to the front of the basketball hoop once picking the ball up they can then move to either side of the basket as needed.
Correcting body position on the last dribble of a drive to the basket improves vision additionally, which always spells trouble for the defence. When driving from the top of the key this means the help defence can be recognised earlier and passes into areas such as the low post, short or long corners can be performed quicker and with better technique.
Good Body Position Separates the Defender from the Ball
Once the ball has been picked up and one or two steps are being utilised for the lay-up. Body positioning is then important in separating the defender from the ball. If the dribbler on the drive is able to gain an advantage where the defender is now on the offensive players hip. The offensive player must try to keep the defender on the opposite side of their body to where the ball is.
This forces the defender to often lunge, or at the very least attempt to reach for the ball across the body of the offensive player. This readily results in a defender committing a foul.
Good Body Positioning Helps with Managing Contact
Basketball by its nature is a semi-contact sport. This means that while contact is not meant to be forceful, there is still the premise in the game for contact to happen within the rules of the sport. Having good body positioning at the time of the last dribble or during the two steps of a lay-up will help a player in dealing with this possible, and likely defensive contact. Good body position will inherently promote balance and control, these elements make the offensive player more capable of being able to deal with significant contact while still attempting a shot.
Perfecting the technique behind a lay-up is one of the truly great achievements for any player participating in basketball. Taking the time to breakdown and analysis the key areas of the technique will aid in better outcomes for both junior and senior players.