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Basketball Drills - Lay-up Drills

By Dr. James Gels, From the Coach’s Clipboard Basketball Playbook
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Here are several lay-up drills beginning with the old simple 2-line lay-up drill, a 3-line drill (a good pre-game warm-up drill), and several full-court dribble lay-up drills that also help with conditioning and speed-dribbling. Be sure to see the 2-minute drill (one of our favorites). For correct lay-up technique and footwork, see: Lay-ups - Finishing at the Hoop

Classic 2-Line Layup Drill

This drill has been around since basketball was invented, and is still a good drill for practicing lay-ups, both right and left-handed. See the diagram. There are two lines, a "shooting" line and a "rebounding" line.

The drill starts with the first shooter dribbling in and shooting the lay-up, while the first rebounder rebounds and passes to the next shooter cutting toward the basket. The shooter goes to the rebounding line and the rebounder goes to the shooting line.

After a few minutes, switch sides so that now the left line is the shooting line (for shooting left-handed lay-ups). As an option, run the drill with two balls. In addition to standard right and left-handed lay-ups, also get some reps on both sides doing reverse lay-ups and inside-hand lay-ups.

2-line Lay-up Drill

  • Dribble with the left hand for left-handed lay-ups, and the right hand for right-handed lay-ups.
  • Passes should be bounce passes.
  • Make sure players are using correct footwork and technique. See Lay-up.
  • Make sure the two lines start well outside of the arc. If the lines are too close to the basket, there is little running and the drill tends to drag. Players should run this drill at game speed.
  • You can make a team competition out of it by requiring the team to make a certain number of lay-ups within two-minutes. If they fail, everyone does 5 or 10 push-ups. Making it competitive forces players to run the drill up-tempo. But make sure they don't "cheat" by allowing the lines to creep in too close.

3-Line Layup Drill

This drill helps improve players' passing, cutting, receiving and ability to make lay-ups. You can use it as a pre-game warm-up drill.

A few players line up at the top of the key, one player in the right corner, and the rest of the players line up at half-court near the right sideline. Use two balls as seen in the diagram.

Player #1 passes to player #2 and makes a sharp basket-cut from the right wing. Player #2 passes the ball back to #1 who shoots a lay-up (see diagram A). After shooting, #1 goes to the top-of-the-key line.

3 Line Lay-up Drill setup Running the 3 Line Lay-up Drill

Player #2 rebounds and passes to player #4 in the corner. Player #2 follows the pass and goes to the corner. Player #4 passes to the next player in line, follows the pass, and goes to the end of half-court line. Run this drill for both right and left handed lay-ups.

You can vary this drill by having the shooting line shoot jump shots, or reverse lay-ups. You can also make another variation: pass it into the high post, and have the high post player take a shot or make a step-hop move, while the original passing lane now gets the rebound and makes the outlet.

Vanderveer 3-Line Backdoor Layup Drill

This drill is used by Hall of Fame Coach Tara Vanderveer (Stanford). It features good passing, layups and passing to a wing back-cutter. It reinforces the "dribble-at, back-cut" rule used in many offenses. You can use it as a warm-up drill.

See diagram 1. Use three lines and a rebounder under the basket. O3 passes to O1. O1 takes a dribble or two toward O2. O2 back-cuts and gets the pass from O1, and finishes the lay-up. O4 rebounds and passes to the next O3 in line. The pass to the back-cutter should be a good bounce pass, right up the lane line. Use three balls and go quickly. Players rotate over to the next line (O3 to O1, O1 to O2, O2 to O4, O4 to O3).

After one time through (bounce passes to the cutter), have players make an air pass to the back-cutter the second time through. You can add token defense with an assistant loosely guarding each passer, and a third assistant with a foot above the arc denying the pass to O2, who then back-cuts. Make sure the O3 passers are making good outside-hand air passes to O1.

Lastly, reverse the drill and do left-handed layups (diagram 2). O2 passes to O1, and O3 is the back-cutter.

Backdoor Lay-up Drill Backdoor Lay-up Drill

2-Minute Full-Court Left-Hand Lay-up Drill

This is a favorite drill that we often run at the end of practice. It helps us with our left-handed lay-ups, left-handed dribble and conditioning. It is a competitive drill where the team has to make a certain number of left-handed lay-ups within 2 minutes. We use 75 for high school boys varsity and 65 for girls varsity. If they fail to make the goal, they run or do push-ups.

Half of the players are on each end of the court with the first two players in each line having a ball. With only two balls on each end, this is a much more difficult goal to make than if every player has a ball.

On "Go!" the first two players from each end start the left-handed speed dribble and shoot the left-handed lay-up. The next player on that end gets the rebound and speed dribbles up the other side. Players must speed dribble quickly and make most of their lay-ups to achieve the goal.

Full-Court Left-Hand Lay-up Drill

If the team fails to make the goal, they run or do push-ups. If we have had a good practice with good effort, we give them a "second chance" by having everyone shoot a half-court shot. If just one player makes it, nobody has to run! So instead they should celebrate as a team mobbing the shooter with lots of "high-5's" - it's a fun thing and a good way to end practice on a positive note.

Variation #1, Adding a Dribble Move.

Have each player do a prescribed dribble move when reaching the 3-point arc. You can do a rocker step, in-and-out, crossover, behind the back, thru the legs, spin move, etc.

Variation #2, Finish the Lay-up Against Pressure.

Place a defender in the paint at each end (a coach or manager), who offers a token defense against the lay-up - no blocks or steals allowed (nothing that would slow the flow of the drill). The defender could bump the shooter with a pad.

Of course, you could run this drill with right-handed lay-ups as well, especially for younger teams and make the goal easier to achieve.

For additional full-court dribble-layup drills, see:

Contested Lay-ups

Finishing Lay-ups with defensive contact (demonstrates standard power lay-ups, inside dominant hand lay-ups, and reverse lay-ups):

From "Phil Martelli: Individual and Team Skill Development" DVD

From "King Rice: Transition Offense and Secondary Break Attacks" DVD