Traditional one foot lay-ups are important to teach at this age. The Lay-Up Progression is a method of training footwork and finishing around the basket.
The focus should not only be on one foot lay-ups. Youth ages should focus on developing touch around the basket. Perfect technique should not be emphasized over letting players figure it out. Trial and error, and messing around with the basketball around the basket, is the best way to develop touch and feel.
Challenge players to release the basketball in different locations and from different angles:
- On top of the head.
- In front of the body.
- Outside the body to the side.
Players should also be challenged to release the basketball from different wrist, elbow and shoulder positions:
- Primarily from the wrist.
- From the elbow and wrist.
- From the shoulder elbow and wrist.
- Repeat with the specific joint bent and or extended.
Different release points should be emphasized. Did you know you can stand two feet from the basket, at a 45 degree angle to the backboard, and shoot the ball off more than 10 different locations and still make the shot? High arc, low arc, hit the backboard on the way up, hit the backboard on the way down, and different types of spin on the ball all create a great platform for a player to employ trial and error to figure out what works, and what doesn’t when shooting at the basket.
Drills that allow for this process of trial and error include:
Additionally we teach three specific finishing moves around the basket. All three are designed to allow an offensive player to get a shot to the basket vs. strong help side defense rotation. A one foot lay-up is always the goal, however if a help defender rotates to take away the one foot lay-up, these three finishing moves allow for a controlled and effective shot.
The Wide Lay-Up
It is rare to get a traditional 45 degree to the basket lay-up. Practice lay-ups from every imaginable angle. Under the basket, along the baseline, from the top, from the wing and other locations must all be practiced. The wide lay-up teaches players that they don’t need to be going directly to the basket to be able to score. The Wide Lay-Up is a finishing move used around the basket when an offensive player does not have a direct path to the rim but is close enough for a high percentage shot.
The Two Foot Push Shot is a finishing move used around the basket when an offensive player gets close to the rim but needs to finish off two feet instead of one due to the defense’s positioning.
The Back Pivot
The Back Pivot is front pivot off of a player’s back pivot foot. It is a finishing move used by an offensive player who gets close to the basket. It allows the offensive player to create space while maintaining a shoulder to chest advantage vs. the defender.
Here is an in-depth guide to teaching the Back Pivot. My suggestion for youth players is to not teach the counters. Often a player will go to the counter when the primary move is open.
How to Develop Finishing Moves
The best way to develop these finishing moves is to put players in one-on-one situations in which they have to apply the moves. This can be done by creating specific one-on-one drills or by adding constraints (things that shape learning). For example here are some one-one drills that develop these finishing moves.
You can also just add a constraint to any one-on-one drill or small-sided game you play. For example during 3-on-3 a player may only score at the basket using a Push Shot or a Back Pivot. This means no one foot lay-ups are allowed. The opposite constraint would be to only allow one foot lay-ups so a player must find the right angle and release point for their shot.
This 1-on-1 challenge helps progress the back pivot and its counter moves into a more game-like application. Getting your players to use the back pivot is as much emphasis as drilling it. In all our 1-on-1 drills and competitive situations we point out when they could have applied the back pivot if they did not use it.
Stack Closeout One-on-One can be used to develop the zero seconds concept and skills required to attack quickly and decisively on the catch.