6 Basketball Layup Variations, Part 1: Overhand Layup | STACK

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

6 Basketball Layup Variations, Part 1: Overhand Layup

April 5, 2013 | Mike Meister

Must See Basketball Videos

In basketball, the layup is the highest percentage shot in the game. Many players know how to correctly execute only one or two variations. This limits their performance, because there are actually six basic layups: overhand layup, underhand layup, power layup, backhand layup, middle reverse layup and backhand reverse layup.

Even if an athlete knows how to correctly perform some of these layups, sometimes he or she fails to understand when to use them. Increase your percentages on this popular shot by learning proper footwork, technique and when to implement a variation in a game. (See also Two Drills to Develop Your Weak-Side Layup.)

Overhand Layup

The overhand layup is the one most commonly taught and the perfect place to start our series. It's usually taught first, because most players in youth leagues are too weak to get the ball up high enough and in control. The overhand layup is the easiest in-motion layup to learn and is shot like a regular shot.

Layup Footwork

The best way to start developing your layup is to work on your footwork without dribbling the ball. (Struggling with your feet? Try 5 Footwork Drills for Basketball.) This example is for a right-handed layup.

  • Start  facing the basket on the first hash mark from the block with the ball in your right hand.
  • Aim for the top right corner of the square on the backboard and don't take your eyes off that spot. (Sometimes players need to aim slightly higher to ensure they shoot high enough. Driving to the basket from different angles can change exactly where you need to hit the backboard, but hitting the corner is still best in most cases.)
  • Begin by stepping with your right foot toward the basket; as your foot hits the ground, bring your left hand to your right side and slap the ball hard. Do not swing the ball in any direction. The ball should stay near your heart.
  • Next, step with your left foot toward the basket and jump as high as you can. To jump higher and go closer to the basket, drive your right knee up as you take off. As you lift off the ground, your body and right arm should extend to shoot. Your shooting elbow should be under the ball, your wrist bent backward and your palm facing toward the basket as you release the ball up, just like shooting a jump shot.
  • Your follow through should be similar to your jump shot follow through, just less snap and arch. The ball should bounce softly off the backboard and go in.
  • Release the ball to hit the top corner you have been aiming at. The ball should hit the corner softly and at the peak of the shot. If you're really accurate, the ball will hit the backboard, then swish through the net.
  • As you release the ball with your right hand, your left hand should stay up and be strong to protect the ball. If a defender tries to block your shot, he should hit your left hand instead of the ball, which will allow you to finish the layup. Your left hand needs to be strong so that it does not get hit into your right hand and cause you to miss.

When to Use the Overhead Layup

The overhand layup is best used when you jump closer to the rim or you're almost under the rim, where you have to shoot straight up. The choice of which layup to use is determined by the angle you are attacking from, where the defense is and where you jump.

Overhead Layup Drills

To continue practicing the overhand layup, work on your form and footwork. Start with the first steps above, then add distance and dribbles.

Three steps, one dribble:

  • Start on the second hash mark facing the basket in a triple threat position with the ball on your right hip.
  • Aim for the top corner as before, step with your left foot toward the basket and dribble hard with your right hand.
  • Next, step with your right foot toward the basket while scooping the ball with your right hand. Scooping is cupping your right hand under the ball and bringing it up toward your heart.
  • As your right foot hits the ground, slap the ball hard and step with your left foot again to jump and shoot, as before.

Four steps, two dribbles:

  • Start on the right elbow facing the baseline in triple threat position with the ball on your right hip.
  • Aim for the top corner as before, step with your right foot and dribble hard with your right hand.
  • Next, step with your left foot and dribble hard with your right hand.
  • Step with your right foot again and continue with the rest of the layup, jumping off your left foot, s before.

Watch the video below for overhead layup technique:

Mike Meister
- Founder of Thunder Sports Institute (Irving, Tex.), Mike Meister has coached players and teams from the youth recreation level up to the professional ranks across...
Mike Meister
- Founder of Thunder Sports Institute (Irving, Tex.), Mike Meister has coached players and teams from the youth recreation level up to the professional ranks across...
Must See
Skylar Diggins Attacks the Off-Season On and Off the Court
Views: 2,733,015
How to Perform the Euro Step With Iman Shumpert
Views: 80,931
Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied
Views: 7,134,231

Featured Videos

Quest for the Ring: University of Kentucky Views: 297,020
Add Core Power for Basketball With Damian Lillard's Med Ball Throws Views: 4,255,927
Path to the Pros 2015: The Journey Begins Views: 28,363
Load More


STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers


Latest issues of STACK Magazine


Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice


Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes


Find the latest news relevant to athletes

More Cool Stuff You'll Like

QB Skills and Drills: How to Master the Bubble Screen

4 Soccer Drills to Shoot Better While on the Move

Build a Better Layup With These Basketball Speed Drills

These 3 Route-Running Drills Will Help You Get Open

Basketball Dribbling Drills: Use Chaos to Develop Killer Handles

This 13-Year-Old Girl Would Strike You Out

10 Essential Point Guard Drills From Skylar Diggins

3 Secrets of the NBA's Best Shooters

How to Recover After Getting Hit by a Pitch

Shooting Drills That Will Make You a Knock-Down Shooter

Andrew McCutchen Is Raking His Way to Consecutive MVP Honors

WATCH: 5 Post Moves From Nerlens Noel

Preparation Nation: DeMatha Stags

Wide Receivers: Learn to Catch Every Jump Ball, Every Time

Tony Wroten's Lethal Crossover Leaves Defender in the Dust

Develop an Unstoppable Crossover Dribble With Just 3 Drills

Use These 3 Principles to Improve Your Basketball Defense

Drive Defenders Crazy With These Super Moves from NBA Legends

Improve Your Jump Shot with Core Strength

3 Steps to Better In-Game Baseball Hitting

Improve Your Basketball Passes With Med Ball Exercises

The 4 Fundamentals of Hitting a Baseball

Winter Soccer Workout to Improve Ball Handling

Top 3 Hockey Training Mistakes

Success With Health: How Trevor Bauer Increased His Velocity

Become a Better Point Guard With This Training Program

Why You Shouldn't Specialize in One Sport Too Soon

How to Improve Your Football Skills Mid-Season

5 Things You Can Learn From Playing Pre-Season Basketball

Why Basketball Players Must Improve Their Weak Hand

4 Drills That'll Help You Become an Elite Running Back

3 Things You Are Doing Wrong In Your Basketball Training

Boost Your Fastball With This Weighted Baseball Workout

How to Create a Killer Crossover Without a Basketball

Basketball Shooting Technique: How to Shoot a Floater

3 Offensive Line Drills That'll Help You Keep Your QB Clean

How Ryan Mathews Returned to Highlight Reel Status

4 Tips to Become a Better Softball Pitcher

5 Drills to Improve Your Soccer Dribbling Skills

Softball Pitchers: How to Play Your Best Over a Complete Season

How QB Ryan Tannehill Beats the Blitz

2 Drills to Help You Play Lockdown Basketball Defense