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Teaching Youth How to Shoot a Layup

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Teaching Youth How to Shoot a Layup

teaching basketball layupsMany coaches call it the easiest shot in basketball, but it often the most neglected skill taught by most coaches. High School coaches assume each player knows how to shoot a layup and it isn’t always the case.  It is the responsibility of youth coaches to teach players how to shoot a layup correctly. Here are some keys components and tips for teaching youth to shoot a layup properly.
Eyes Up With Ball in the Outside Hand
We all know that a major problem with youth players is keeping there eyes up when they dribble. It is the cause of a lot of mistakes including missing layups. If a player has problems controlling their dribble with their eyes up, then they probably have a problem with shooting a layup. Therefore, before teaching layups coaches need to teach dribbling with eyes up.
Eyes On The Target
Once players are comfortable with dribbling with their eyes up, then you can begin teaching the proper way to shoot a layup. First, when a player recognizes that they may have a layup they should have their eyes on the target just like any other shot. Some coaches teach different targets, but the universal target that most coaches teach is the top of the square. Too often player’s eyes will be focused on the rim. Emphasize to your players that a layup is like any other shot and your eyes should be on your target.
The footwork of a proper layup is probably the most difficult aspect of a layup for youth players. The best method I have seen for teaching footwork is the “baby step” approach. Start without a basketball and work the last two steps of a layup. For a right handed layup have players stand on the first mark and step “Right - Left” (emphasis eyes on the target). Then step back, add a ball, and go “Step Left – 1 Dribble – Right – Left”. Don’t allow the player to shoot yet, the emphasis should be on proper footwork not making the shot yet. Progress till the players can dribble from half court with proper footwork.
The Shot
After players have learned to dribble with their eyes up and ball in the outside hand, keep their eyes on the target, and have proper footwork it is time to teach how to shoot a layup. After observing players on all levels and talking with coaches I’ve learned that very few players shoot a layup correctly. A layup is like any other shot and every shot starts from the “shooting pocket” and has a follow thru. A player’s form on a layup should be the same form on a jump shot. After the last dribble, the ball should go straight to the “shooting pocket” above the shoulder next to ear. Next, just like any other shot, the player should jump more up than out toward the goal. Momentum may take them under the basket, but their explosion should be to the rim not the baseline. Then, with eyes focused on the target, the player elevates to shoot the ball. A key emphasis to players should be to hit the target with the ball on the way down.

A ball that hits the target on the way up could be a result of a lot of things. The player could have failed to dribble with their eyes up and find themselves too far under the rim, they could have failed to shoot from the “shooting pocket” and shot from their hip or outside their body, or poor footwork could make the player be off balance and result in an inaccurate shot. Finally, just like any other shot, a layup should finish with a follow thru toward the rim. The same errors that occur with a poor follow thru on a jump shot will be the same errors in shooting a layup.        
Shooting layups is obvious different for different age groups and different skill sets, but the progression for teaching layups should not be different. Teaching players the proper way to shoot layups will help you win more games and provide your players with a vital skill for the remainder of their basketball career.