The Back Leg Finish: How Basketball Players Can Hit More Contested Shots

Learn a move that Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki and and Steve Nash used to create space and score. Performed correctly, it renders even bigger defenders helpless.

Finishing at the rim isn't always about trying to be more athletic than or going overtop your defender. When you start playing against higher levels of competition, you must be able to use different types of finishes to get your shot off.

There are all kinds of great finishing moves you can work on and add to your game, but one I really like is the back leg finish. It creates space and results in a high-percentage shot if you spend time mastering the move.

A few of the players who gave this move notoriety are Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash. Each of them used it in slightly different ways, but were able to turn it into a great move to get a shot off.

I am going to break down the back leg finish in three game situations that you can work on in your basketball training, and once you master them, you can use them in games.

Transition Back Leg Finish

There are two types of transition back leg finishes. In one, you attack at full speed, then decelerate to let the defender's momentum carry him past the basket so you get an open look. In the other, you use your body to bump the defender backwards, then rise up on your back leg to create space.

Which one you choose should depend on your read of the defender. If you feel the defender is out of control trying to run with you, go for the the deceleration version. If your opponent is body to body, use the bump-and-back-leg finish.

One of the biggest keys for the transition finish is body control. Make sure you are under control and able to shoot a nice balanced shot off your back leg.

Flashing Back Leg Finish

This type of finish is ideal for attacking a zone defense, or when you spot one of your opponents falling asleep on D.

First, you flash, or run to an open area where one of your teammates can pass to you. Ideally, you want to flash and shoot a catch-and-shoot shot, but maybe you're up against a bigger and more athletic defender who's ready to step up and help. In that case, you can use the back leg to create a little space for yourself and get your shot off—even over a taller opponent.

Post-Up Back Leg Finish

Dirk Nowitzki made this move famous and now Kevin Durant also uses it. It creates space to get your shot off in the post, especially if you are playing against a bigger defender.

Even though you use your back leg to create space on your shot, it's important to work to get great post positioning. The deeper you get on the catch, the higher percentage the shot.