How to Do a Layup Correctly? Basketball 101

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning we get a commission if you make a purchase through our links, at no cost to you.

Spread the love


Do you want to know how to do a layup? Do you want to know how to do a proper layup? If you are just starting to play basketball or if for some reason your layups are missing more than making, you need to know what we know. 

Many players start to learn the game by learning to make the layup shot, but for some people, it’s simply just a difficult shot to make. We know that there are so many reasons why a layup will miss or just be difficult to pull off. 

You are in the right place because we know what you need to do correctly to get those buckets. This is an all you need to know guide for layups. 

What is a LayupWhat is a Layup? 

A layup is considered to be the most basic shot in basketball. That’s right. The layup is the most basic and not the free-throw. You may be asking, why is the layup considered to be the most basic? The layup is the most basic due to the degree of difficulty involved in pulling it off, uncontested that is. 

With the exception of the slam dunk, the layup is also the highest percentage shot in basketball, again, uncontested. The highest percentage refers to the possibility of the shot being made when compared to other shots. 

A layup is a shot that is taken very close to the rim. Other shots such as finger-rolls, dunks, and jump shots can also be taken from very close to the rim. The thing that differentiates a layup from these shots is the form and technique used to complete it.

A basic layup is usually completed by jumping from close to the rim and using one or two hands to gently play the basketball off the backboard/glass so that it falls into the basket. The ball is to be gently played against the glass because it would be thrown back at you if you were to throw it hard at the glass. 

That is how the basic layup is finished, but keep in mind that there are many other types of layups that are executed in different ways. Different layups are used in various situations.

Players will use variations of layups to avoid being blocked, amuse the crowd, or because they had to adjust their bodies based on where they were when they wanted to make the shot. 

A player may receive the ball at an awkward angle or while on the run at a speed that would not allow for a basic layup to be performed, so they have to improvise. Some players just don’t do simple, so they so variations. Let’s now take a look at some variations to the basic layup.

What are Different Layup VariationsWhat are Different Layup Variations?

Basketball is one of the most customizable sports on the planet. That is one of the reasons why it is so much fun to watch and to play. There are too many variations of the layup for us to list them all today, so we will list the four no-frills varieties.

1. The overhand layup

This is the most common basic variety of the layup. The layup shot is made by gently playing the ball towards the painted box on the glass from the side of the rim. The release is done similarly to that of a jump shot.

The overhand layup

2. The underhand layup

The only differences between the overhand and underhand layups are the way the ball is held with the hand under the ball and the release. The release is done with a flick of the wrist upwards.

3. The reverse layup

The reverse layup is done by completing an underhand layup with your back to the basket. The rim can be used to protect your shot.

4. The power layup

This layup is a strong move that is utilized when the player wants to finish through contact and with more control. The power layup can be completed with both or one hand. The power layup is unique because the player takes one step towards the rim but plants the next foot beside the first steps and explodes upright off two feet. 

How Many Steps Can You Take for a LayupHow Many Steps Can You Take for a Layup?

The number of steps that you take while attempting a layup can affect how effectively the layup is completed. The number of steps taken will depend on a few factors. These factors include distance from the basket, the agility of defender, your athletic abilities and also where and how you catch the ball that is being passed to you. 

The layup can be done by taking anywhere from 0 to 2 steps after the ball is gathered. In the NBA, it can be done with what is arguably a third step (gather step included).

Let’s look at how a zero-step before layup is possible and practical. If a player is in a post position with a defender on his back, he has the option to back the player all the way down to the basket and then jumps off the spot to complete the layup. There would be no need to take a single step after the gather. The zero-step layup should also be executed if a player catches the ball wide open while standing directly next to the basket. 

Now let’s look at the one-step layup. The one-step layup is typically used when a player on the run, gathers the ball and only needs one step to get close enough to the rim to release the ball comfortably. One step layups can throw defends off because they usually are expecting a second step after the gather. 

The two-step layup is the most common of all. Most coaches teach this type of layup initially to beginners. The incorporation of two steps into your layup often allows you to be more controlled when completing the shot. The layup with two steps gives players time to make more finishing decisions after they gather. You can do Euro steps, reverse shots, and jellies. 

When Would You Use a Layup Shot in BasketballWhen Would You Use a Layup Shot in Basketball?

The short answer to this question is, “when you want to make a simple basket.” The layup is widely considered to be the simplest shot in the game. This is because the layup is used when the player wants to make a basket the easiest way possible. 

We recommend that players use the layup shot when they are close enough to the rim to put up a controlled shot. Trying to take your steps from a far distance can put you into problems if you don’t have the length and athleticism of a Giannis or a KD. 

When Would You Use a Layup Shot in Basketball

Many coaches will advise players that are attempting the two-step layup to take a long first step and a shorter, jump-like, more powerful second step. The reason for this is you will get more air time within which to make any adjustment necessary for the shot attempt to be successful.

The layup is also best when you have a clear path to the rim. If you are able to dunk the ball, then, by all means, you can go ahead and do so. If you can’t get over the rim and be like Zion, then the best option in line would be a layup.

Layup variations are also well suited for post scenarios. When you are playing with your back to the basket, there are a variety of layups that can be performed, such as post step-through layups, drop step layups and post spin layups. These layups can result in easy baskets from the post. You will need to work on your footwork to perfect these. 

How Do You Do a Layup Without Being BlockedHow Do You Do a Layup Without Being Blocked?

This is a very tricky question to answer. How to do a layup without being blocked? How to make a layup without the skywalkers playing tennis with your shot? We must first tell you that not getting blocked does not depend solely upon you. You will also need to consider the shot-blocking capabilities of the opposing players. 

Some players just have the natural ability to touch the gym ceiling, and they will be tough to score layups against. There are, however, some ways that you can reduce their abilities to block your shot to a certain extent. Let’s look at three things to work on that can help you to avoid getting swatted when putting up your shot.  


You can adjust your steps to put up your layup before the defender can jump. If your defender jumps later than you do, depending on their athletic ability, they may not be able to reach your shot in time. On the flip side, you can use a variety of fakes to get the defender to jump before you do, and then you can do your layup when the defender is on their way down. 


Driving or stepping into a moving defender before you do your layup shot will cause the defender to get off-balanced if you are stronger. This will affect their ability to jump fast and high enough to swat your shot. 

How Do You Do a Layup Without Being Blocked

Initiating contact with a defender can also out wright prevent them from jumping if they start to jostle for a defensive position. You can do a quick one-step layup or no step layup by jumping with your elbow above the defender’s shoulders.

Arching your shot or aiming for the top of the glass- You can put sufficient arch on your shot while it heads to the glass, and that can place the shot out of reach for a lot of defenders, but don’t try it against Javale Mcgee. This type of finishing will take a lot of practice to get right. You will need to work on your release point, the strength of the release, and your aim for the top of the glass.

Why is Layup Shot Important in BasketballWhy is Layup Shot Important in Basketball?

If you can’t make a simple bucket, you may just be a liability to your team. If you do not know how to do a proper layup, you will be putting a lot of pressure on your teammates because the opposing team can leave you open and double team your teammates. 

The layup shot is critical because you can effectively score easy points because of it. One of the most disrespectful things in basketball is to hear the opponents shout “rebound” when you are attempting to make a layup. 

The layup can help players get to the rim easily and sometimes put the opponents into foul trouble. In addition to that, you can shoot at least one additional shot at the free-throw line when fouled while attempting your layup. 

Coaches teach the layup while training beginners because of its effectiveness in many in-game situations such as fast breaks, dribble drives, cuts to the rim, and post plays. You can see that due to the myriad of situations where the layup can be implemented, it is extremely important that players have even the basic layup package in their arsenal. 

How Do You Practice Doing Layup CorrectlyHow Do You Practice Doing Layup Correctly?

We are now at how to do a layup for beginners’ section of our post. So, do you want to know how to practice doing a layup properly? Let’s first say that over time, each player will develop various skillsets and athletic abilities that will allow them to do layups in different ways than beginners. Because there are so many variations of the layup, there really is no correct way to do a layup

Another reason why we say that there are no right or wrong ways of doing a layup is the fact that you may have to improvise and change your technique on the go while in a game. For this reason, it is great that a player knows the foundations of the layup and practice a variety of moves based on those foundations. 

How Do You Practice Doing Layup Correctly

With all that said, it’s safe to say that players should practice the correct foundations and then practice different scenarios in which to implement them. When we say the foundations of the layup, we are referring looking at the glass while shooting the layup so that you can aim properly, releasing the ball with the right amounts of force, releasing the ball over or underhand, using one or both hands in a controlled release and maintaining as much balance as possible while performing the shot. 

We believe that if players practice these things, they can add a variety of moves to them during practice and games that will allow them to be individually effective. We know that it is crucial to practice “fundamentals.” However, it is even more critical to allow for creativity and be open to individuality within players. The superstars of the NBA aren’t superstars because they only do the fundamentals. 

Helpful Videos to Teach You How to Do LayupsHelpful Videos to Teach You How to Do Layups

The dynamic nature of basketball makes it necessary for players to know different ways to complete a layup. Here are three videos that will show you how to make a layup.

1. This video demonstrates various basic layup types. It also provides tips to execute tricky steps effectively. The video also gives the reasons why each step is essential.

2. This is important for those who have a weak left hand.

3. This final video teaches how a layup can be performed while posting up. Many players that are expected to lay the post will also be able to have a least a few moves from which to score easy buckets. This video will demonstrate some.

Wrapping Things Up: How to Do a Layup Correctly? 

Don’t you think that’s it wonderful you came here today to find out how to do a layup in basketball? The layup being the simplest shot in the game means every player must have it in their arsenal of moves.

The layup is used in a variety of situations such as dribble penetration, posting up, cuts to the rim, and more. All players should learn how to perform one of the many layups in the game. A layup can be performed in so many ways that we couldn’t even cover them all today.

While executing any of the many layups out there, you should always remember to look at the glass, balance yourself, aim every shot, prepare to adjust if challenged, and do the release that you practiced. Your steps will play a crucial role as it relates to power, positioning, balance, distance from the rim at release, and control. With that in mind, please work on your footwork so that you can learn different step variations and timing. 

Until next time ballers, remember you’ll miss 100% of the shots that you don’t take and 90% of the ones that you don’t practice. 

We also answer other frequently answered questions on basketball here.

More engaging basketball FAQ posts here:

> How to Box Out in Basketball

> How to Palm a Basketball

> What is Rebounding in Basketball?

Picture of Hoops Addict
Hoops Addict

Hoops Addict was created to help basketball fans of all ages learn more about the sport and find the best basketball gear to improve their ability to hoop. He has been a huge basketball fan for decades, watching thousands of basketball games through the years to learn the ins and outs of the game.

If you found this helpful, help us out by sharing this post!


Readers of this post also read...

How is the NBA All-Star Team Selected

How is the NBA All-Star Team Selected?

Getting into the All-Star game is no simple feat. For some players, it may take several seasons of high-level play to get the nod. However, other exceptional talents come into the league with so much...

Read More
How Do Basketball Teams Qualify for the Olympics?

How Do Basketball Teams Qualify for the Olympics?

The Summer Olympics is the biggest stage in international basketball. These games have an unbridled cultural impact on a global scale. It brings the world together to appreciate a couple of weeks of high-level international...

Read More
What Does DTD Mean in Basketball?

What Does DTD Mean in Basketball?

Basketball is a world of its own with unique terms or jargon, in and out of the court. Through the years, more terms have been developed to represent specific things about the sport, and understanding...

Read More

Get our top basketball tips to become a better baller

Enter your email to get access to our best tips for success.