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Scoring Close To The Basket: Layup Variations

Scoring close is the easiest shot to take in basketball for obvious reasons. The closer the shot, the easier the shot is, and therefore the higher percentage chance it will go in. If you can get any shot, you want a close shot.

What are the different types of close shots?

The Layup

The layup is a form of a close shot that consists of going towards the basket in a forward motion to score. There are many different variations of the layup. There is the floater, euro step, hop step, jump stop, spin, and reverse. These are the most popular and effective variations.

The Floater

The floater is a variation of the layup that involves putting the ball really high in the air over a defender to score. Typically uses the backboard and is a very quick flick. This shot is most effective if you are a smaller guard. Its situational use is when a bigger defender is deep in the paint and cannot contest a high arcing floater.

A pick and roll makes this layup variation effective. Trae Young, an NBA point guard, uses this move out of the pick and roll when the center switches onto him. Him being 5’11 makes the floater perfect to get a layup over 7’0 defenders.

Trae Young Floater

Euro Step

Giannis Euro Step Motion Blur

The euro step is a variation of the layup that involves using two steps of misdirection to fool the defender into thinking you were attacking a certain side of the basket. It involves meticulous footwork, where each foot needs to be planted firmly. The shoulder and the ball should be exaggerated to the side you want to fake the defender to.

This is most effective in a fast break or downhill situation, where the defender is trying to cut off the side they think you are driving into. Deception is most key when a defender is playing catch up. 

Hop Step

The hop step is very similar to the euro step but it involves two feet simultaneously instead of one to one. It involves hopping laterally while still going toward the basket. It is most effective like the euro, when a defender wants to cut you off when going downhill.

Zion Hop Step

Power Layup or Jump Stop

The jump stop involves attacking the basket really fast to then slightly jump and land with both feet landing simultaneously. Both feet landing at the same time will ensure by the rules that it is one step. Once landing, your defender should still be going so fast that their momentum will carry them past you. Wait patiently until that happens then finish. It also allows you to get in a torque position where you have the leverage and control of two feet.

Spin Layup

The spin layup is the most finesse of the mentioned layup variations. It requires you to spin off of your defender by planting a pivot foot. It is most useful in situations where the defender is in a good defensive position and playing the ball side. Footwork and balance is crucial. Note that it is very dangerous as you cannot see if another defender will come help side as you will have your back to the basket in the middle of this move.

LeBron Spin Move

Reverse Layup

Kyrie Reverse Layup

The reverse layup involves attacking the basket, however, it is situational to driving baseline. It is best used when attacking a defender and using the rim as protection. The rim and net will get in the way of a potential contest. The reverse layup is also effective in situations where the defender commits in the air to one side of the basket, and you switch to finish on the other.

This move is better the higher you jump as you get more airtime, and more time to switch sides on a finish.

Other Close Shots

The hook

The hook is a specific shot utilized when you are close to the basket that involves pushing the ball high off one hand. It requires your back to the basket and releasing the ball at the highest point. It is most effective when using the hand furthest away from the defender.

This move is underutilized in todays game. Players like Kareem in the 80s dominated by using this unguardable close shot. This is a shot that cannot blocked if done correctly. Even the greatest of defenders cannot contest effectively enough if you master this move. 

Kareem hook

The Fadeaway

high school fadeaway close

The fadeaway can be an effective close shot. Essentially it is leaning away from your defender while taking a jump shot. The closer fadeaways allow you to utilize the backboard and are higher percentages. It also makes the defender have to commit extremely hard to get a good contest.

Both the fadeaway and the hook can transition into the next move I will mention. 

Up and Under

If you utilize the hook and fadeaway effectively, the up and under is a good counter to an over pursuing defender. If a defender wants to jump and contest your shot hard near the basket, simply fake the move, wait for the defender to bite, and then go underneath them and finish closer.

The foot work requires utilizing the pivot and selling the pump fake. If it does not look authentic, the defender will not be out of position. Make sure to bring the ball above your head for maximum authenticity. 

The Dunk

Perhaps the most efficient shot in basketball, the dunk when done correctly works 100 percent of the time. It is important in getting crowds into games and teammates engaged. However, it requires a lot of energy and athleticism, and is very situational for most basketball players that can do it. Dunk when the opportunity arises to spark your teams energy.

Tips to Improve Effectiveness

Keep the ball high

Any close to the basket shot should have the ball held high, preferably above your head. Also, remember to hold that ball strong, as contact near the rim is inevitable. This will allow you to finish through contact, and not let your defender steal the ball or contest you as easily.

Put backspin on the ball and utilize the backboard

Using the backboard and utilizing the backspin on the ball will allow you to become an elite scorer in the interior. Knowing how to spin the ball with your right and left hand in both directions will allow you to finish with both hands anywhere near the backboard.

A player like Kyrie is such an elite finisher because he can spin the ball any direction and kiss it off the glass. When you spin the ball and it hits the backboard, it will go the direction you spin it. 

Jump as high as possible

As I mentioned earlier, the more air time, the more possibility for different finishing techniques and adjustments in the air. But not only that, jumping higher will allow defenders to get weaker contests and not affect your shots. No one blocks a high vertical leaper.

Michael Jordan would hang so long he could get any finish he wanted and could adjust at will.

Initiate Contact

Sometimes it may be important to bring some physicality to your defender before attempting to score close. Do not commit an offensive foul, but make sure to give some distance between you and the defender. A slight physical push before attempting a layup or other close shot can make a big difference when going full speed attacking the rim.

Practice your footwork

Knowing the rhythm of when and where to place your feet in a layup is extremely important for positioning and balance. The typically jump with the opposite foot of the layup hand that you are shooting with is helpful at establishing balance. However, you should be able to finish with the same foot, same hand as well. 

Be able to off foot finish. For example, a left hand layup typically would be off of your right foot. However, you should also be able to be comfortable with left hand layup off the left foot. This allows you as an offensive player to not be predictable. It is easy to guard someone with cookie cutter footwork.

Off foot finish

Master both hands

It goes without saying, but being able to score a layup with one hand severely limits your options on offense and makes you easier to guard. Any decent player will recognize your weakness and force you to your weak hand. In basketball, make sure you can do everything effectively with both hands. 

Elite basketball players do not think twice on whether they are going left or right, they are strong at both. Not saying that individuals do not have a preference, they just do not pass up opportunities to score because both hands are strong.

Want to get better at basketball?

Check out my other articles on other topics such as improvement on athletic ability, shooting, dribbling, basketball IQ, and more. It is my goal to help others improve their abilities in basketball so they can enjoy the game like I have and still do.

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