6 Basketball Layup Variations, Part 2: Underhand Layup

April 11, 2013 | Mike Meister

Must See Basketball Videos

In our second installment, we focus on the "true" layup or, as it's better known, the underhand layup. It's nicknamed the "true layup" because when you do it correctly, you actually lay the ball up to the backboard. Because it's a misunderstood layup, it's less often taught by coaches.

Although the overhead layup is easier to learn and score with, the underhand layup is often required in fast moving games. It is an essential skill for basketball players to master, because most of the other types of layups are also shot with an underhand motion.

Underhand Layup

  • Up until the actual release of the ball, everything is the same as for the overhand layup.
  • As with any layup, the ball starts at the chest. Then, as you elevate, you lift the ball by keeping your hand under it, palm up. Your fingers should be closer to the basket, and your wrist should be slightly bent backward.
  • As you extend your arm up, give a slight flick of your wrist toward the basket.
  • Your follow through should be reaching toward the rim, slightly across your body, no more than past your face.
  • This looks like a finger roll, but they are different things. The lift on the ball comes from your legs as you jump and from the full extension of your arm—not from flinging it up with your arm. The ball should go up softly and hit the top corner of the square before dropping into the basket.

When to Use the Underhand Layup

The underhand layup is best used when you are attacking at a fast pace and cannot slow down to shoot in a more fluid motion from a good angle.  The release angle is better than it would be if you were almost under the basket; and the softer touch you get from the lift of the ball (as opposed to the push of the ball in an overhand layup) makes it easier to score at faster speeds. Most players miss an underhand layup because they try to shoot with one hand without slapping the ball to get a better handle on it. This makes them take their eyes off the top corner of the box, start the shooting motion below their chest, or rock the ball to the side before shooting. (See also (Five Training Keys to Getting Quicker for Basketball) and Point Guard Drills for Ball Handling and Court Vision.)

Drills to Practice the Underhand Layup

Perfecting the underhand layup and developing proper footwork are the same as with the overhand layup. The following drills build on that progress at a faster speed to make the underhand layup more comfortable.

Three steps, one dribble, going faster:

  • Start on the right elbow facing the baseline in a triple threat position with the ball on your right hip.
  • Aim for the top corner of the box.
  • Step with your left foot and dribble hard with your right hand.
  • Step with your right foot and continue with the layup (as described above).

Four steps, two dribbles, from the wing:

  • Start on the right wing (3-point line or free throw line extended) facing the basket in a triple threat position with the ball on your right hip.
  • Aim for the top corner of the box.
  • Step with your right foot and dribble hard with your right hand.
  • Step with your left foot and dribble hard with your right hand.
  • Step with your right foot again and continue with the layup (as described above)

Three steps, two dribbles, going faster from the wing:

  • Start on the right wing (3-point line or free throw line extended), facing the basket in a triple threat position with the ball on your right hip.
  • Aim for the top corner of the box
  • Step with your left foot and dribble hard with your right hand.
  • Step with your right foot and continue with the layup (as described above)

Attacking from half court:

  • Start at half court on the right sideline facing the basket in a triple threat position with the ball on your right hip.
  • Aim for the top corner of the box.
  • Take more dribbles. It will be harder to keep your head up and not look down, but it gets easier as your ball handling improves.
  • Dribble toward the basket with your right hand.
  • When you are between the first and second hash marks, scoop the ball up and as your right foot hits the ground, slap the ball.
  • Remember, your angle to the basket is different, and you will be on the right of the side of the key.
  • Continue shooting as before, jumping off your left foot.

Watch the video below for demonstrations of correct underhand layup technique. Catch up on the series by checking out Part 1: Overhand Layup.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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
How to Perform the Euro Step With Iman Shumpert How to Perform the Euro Step With Iman Shumpert
Views: 86,655
Peyton Manning Dumbbell Bench With 80+ Pounds Peyton Manning Dumbbell Bench With 80+ Pounds
Views: 41,682,998
Evan Longoria's Hitting Drills Evan Longoria's Hitting Drills
Views: 9,799,510

Featured Videos

Tobin Heath Closed-Space Dribbling Tobin Heath Closed-Space Dribbling Views: 1,175,905
Path to the Pros 2015: Shaq Thompson Path to the Pros 2015: Shaq Thompson Views: 71,092
Basketball Shooting Drill With Kevin Love: 5 Spots, 5 Shots Basketball Shooting Drill With Kevin Love: 5 Spots, 5 Shots Views: 245,612
Load More

Resources

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

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Dwight Howard Stays in the Gym All Night Dwight Howard Stays in the Gym All Night
Views: 5,845,858
Colby Lewis's Four-Seam Fastball Technique Colby Lewis's Four-Seam Fastball Technique
Views: 5,017,563
Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill
Views: 9,499,251
Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied
Views: 11,442,976
Two-Ball Dribbling Drill With John Wall Two-Ball Dribbling Drill With John Wall
Views: 3,362,836

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like
10 Essential Point Guard Drills From Skylar Diggins

10 Essential Point Guard Drills From Skylar Diggins

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

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

'Squash the Bug' and Other Softball Batting Tips That Don't Work

'Squash the Bug' and Other Softball Batting Tips That Don't Work

WATCH: 5 Post Moves From Nerlens Noel

WATCH: 5 Post Moves From Nerlens Noel

2 Drills to Help You Play Lockdown Basketball Defense

2 Drills to Help You Play Lockdown Basketball Defense

Become a Better Point Guard With This Training Program

Become a Better Point Guard With This Training Program

Basketball Shooting Technique: How to Shoot a Floater

Basketball Shooting Technique: How to Shoot a Floater

Drills for a Better Pole Vault Swing

Drills for a Better Pole Vault Swing

Success With Health: How Trevor Bauer Increased His Velocity

Success With Health: How Trevor Bauer Increased His Velocity

4 Tips to Become a Better Softball Pitcher

4 Tips to Become a Better Softball Pitcher

How to Create a Killer Crossover Without a Basketball

How to Create a Killer Crossover Without a Basketball

3 Steps to Better In-Game Baseball Hitting

3 Steps to Better In-Game Baseball Hitting

Become a Better Baserunner With This Agility Drill

Become a Better Baserunner With This Agility Drill

How QB Ryan Tannehill Beats the Blitz

How QB Ryan Tannehill Beats the Blitz

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

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

Drive Defenders Crazy With These Super Moves from NBA Legends

Drive Defenders Crazy With These Super Moves from NBA Legends

Preparation Nation: DeMatha Stags

Preparation Nation: DeMatha Stags

Learn from Steph Curry: Stay the Course to Beat the Defense

Learn from Steph Curry: Stay the Course to Beat the Defense

3 Things You Are Doing Wrong In Your Basketball Training

3 Things You Are Doing Wrong In Your Basketball Training

Learn to Shoot a Basketball with the BEEF Method

Learn to Shoot a Basketball with the BEEF Method

Winter Soccer Workout to Improve Ball Handling

Winter Soccer Workout to Improve Ball Handling

4 Tips for Coaching Low-Velocity Softball Pitchers

4 Tips for Coaching Low-Velocity Softball Pitchers

How Ryan Mathews Returned to Highlight Reel Status

How Ryan Mathews Returned to Highlight Reel Status

Build a Better Layup With These Basketball Speed Drills

Build a Better Layup With These Basketball Speed Drills

Teach the Layup with the Two-Step Drill

Teach the Layup with the Two-Step Drill

Improve Your Basketball Passes With Med Ball Exercises

Improve Your Basketball Passes With Med Ball Exercises

3 Secrets of the NBA's Best Shooters

3 Secrets of the NBA's Best Shooters

10 Tips Every AAU Player Must Know

10 Tips Every AAU Player Must Know

5 Drills to Improve Your Soccer Dribbling Skills

5 Drills to Improve Your Soccer Dribbling Skills

How Stephen Curry Became the Best Shooter in the NBA

How Stephen Curry Became the Best Shooter in the NBA

Why Basketball Players Must Improve Their Weak Hand

Why Basketball Players Must Improve Their Weak Hand

Basketball Speed Drills for Offense

Basketball Speed Drills for Offense

4 Soccer Drills to Shoot Better While on the Move

4 Soccer Drills to Shoot Better While on the Move

How to Improve Your Basketball Skills in the Weight Room

How to Improve Your Basketball Skills in the Weight Room

Why You Shouldn't Specialize in One Sport Too Soon

Why You Shouldn't Specialize in One Sport Too Soon

Boost Your Fastball With This Weighted Baseball Workout

Boost Your Fastball With This Weighted Baseball Workout

The 4 Fundamentals of Hitting a Baseball

The 4 Fundamentals of Hitting a Baseball

These 3 Route-Running Drills Will Help You Get Open

These 3 Route-Running Drills Will Help You Get Open

The Football Route Tree, Explained

The Football Route Tree, Explained

Improve Your Jump Shot with Core Strength

Improve Your Jump Shot with Core Strength

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

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

YardBarker