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Coaching Youth Basketball: Tip, Drills, & Ideas

A lay-up is the most basic way to score in the game of basketball. At the younger levels, (K – Grade 3) focusing on using the correct footwork can be a futile. Very few players can use the correct footwork when attempting a lay-up. So what lay-up fundamentals can you teach to younger players?

Teach the aiming point for shooting a lay-up.

When a young players is asked “What should you aim for when you take a layup?” The most common answers are:

a. “THE BACKBOARD” This is the #1 answer, but it is not the best answer. The backboard is such a big area. Many shots can hit the backboard, but will not result in a made basket. A coach can have some fun by shooting the ball all over the backboard and missing. After each shot, the coach can look at the players and say, “I hit the backboard, what is wrong.? I am doing what you told me to do. I hit the backboard but I MISSED my layup!”

At this point, the players will realize the aiming point needs to be more specific. The next best answer is….

b. “THE SQUARE” With this response the players are getting warmer, but the answer is still not specific enough. A coach can still have some fun with this answer by hitting the square in several different spots and still miss scoring a basket. Shoot the ball all over “the square” and miss. The most common missed layup is when a player hits the BOTTOM corner of the square and the ball hits the front of the rim.

A coach can look at the players and say, “I hit the square, what is wrong. I am doing what you told me to do. Why isn’t it going in?”

Hopefully after sharing the above two answers, the players can get the correct answer….

c. “THE TOP CORNER OF THE SQUARE” Bingo! This is the PERFECT answer! This is the correct response and the response EACH player should know and remember the rest of the season and his / her playing career. Knowing the correct aiming point is the 1st step to consistently making lay-ups.

Once the players understand where to aim the basketball, the next step in the lay-up process is applying this knowledge to the shot.

To make a layup, a player needs to use the backboard and CONSISTENTLY aim for the top corner of the square.

The following drills provide excellent repetition and practice for aiming for the top corner of the square.

  • Block shots & Dribbling Block Shots

  • Mini-Mikans