Basketball Lay up, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

Technically, the layup shot (to lay the ball up against the backstop) is one of the easiest shots to make in basketball because of the backstop: it is a tool that even beginners and shorter players especially can make good use of. In a video made of student players on a girls’ team practicing in their school gym, one can watch them take their turns as they receive a pass, run a semicircle and then move in for the shot. Time after time, they score. Finally, their concentration lagging from boredom or fatigue, they begin to occasionally miss (BasketballKorea.com, 2009). But this is only in practice. During a game, the ease of making a layup shot will depend entirely on the quality of the opposing team and the shooter’s own energy level, which will in turn depend on whether the game is full or half-court play, and which side of the basket a player is on. Players must practice the shot itself and all the defenses needed to make it in the face of one or more opposing players with matching energy levels. For these reasons, the layup shot is highly suitable for sustained drill, with or without defenders and blockers.

A picture is worth a thousand words, and there are many pictures and videos of the layup and its varieties. In brief here, the classic layup shot is made on the run and with one hand, the hand you are dribbling with.  And that will depend on which side of the court you are approaching. If you are approaching on the left, you will dribble with your left hand, keeping the ball on the outside away from any inside defenders. Upon getting within layup range of the basket, you will spring up with your right leg (opposite the left shooting hand) and while in the air, left leg cocked for balance, make the shot with the left hand. It is not a dunk. Instead, using your fingertips, you flip the ball up in an arc towards the basket. For beginners especially, the back of the hand should be facing the player’s face to allow the ball to be pushed up and away. The move is called the overarm layup. This is in contrast to holding the ball with the back of the hand facing towards the ground, basically cupping the ball from below. That technique allows for what is called an underarm layup. The ball is controlled by the fingers more than the palm of the hand, and for this reason this shot is also called the finger roll. It allows the ball to roll off the fingers as you flip the ball up and over the rim or against the backstop, with the back of the hand still more or less parallel to the ground.

As will become clear in practice, shorter and less experienced players at first depend on the backstop to rebound the ball into the basket, and most backstops today have a painted square that gives players an aiming point. Such players will also use the backstop in approaches from the side, but they are in good company here, as professionals do the same thing. Generally though, the taller and/or experienced the player is, the less the backstop will be deliberately used in layup shots, either under- or over-arm. As I mention below, this is causes problems.

Exactly how you will approach the basket will depend on how you got there. In full-court games, you will often see a layup shot done as the completion of a flat-out run down the length of the court after an intercept. The opposing team, caught flatfooted, can only play catch-up. This allows the shooter a clear approach to then perform either the classic no-frills rebound from the backstop into the basket, or the player’s own exuberant signature move.

In standard play however, the players are close together in position with every bit of court space in contention. The player holding the ball is either going to shoot for the basket from his present position (which, if far enough away, will not be a layup); pass to another teammate who may then make the layup; fake a pass; fake and then shoot; fake and move in; or just outmaneuver the player(s) covering him, moving around or through them to make a successful layup shot. Regardless, something dramatic will happen to the ball within seconds.

In this situation, much will depend on both how aggressively the player defends both himself and how fast he can spot an opening, either to move in or to pass. If moving in, the shooter driving the baseline keeps the ball on the outside, away from defenders as he moves in. Moving in on the left side of the court and utilizing the two-step traveling rule on the final approach, the skilled player keeps his back parallel to the backstop to block defenders whose inside position he either knows or can guess at. His momentum allows for a higher jump.

As noted, the layup shot is principally a shot made from either the left or right side of the basket. For non-professional play, this is a crucial factor, because which side is approached will (at least in theory) determine which hand will be used to make the shot. Of course, many layups are made with both hands, and there is nothing wrong with that if it works, but depending on the skill of the opposing team, it can work less often. It also limits the height of the jump as it is awkward (at least for non-professionals) to make a two-handed shot from the side while on the run. Regardless, shooting with one hand means favoring one hand over the other, depending on whether you are left or right handed. Ambidextrousness can be achieved in basketball as it can in handwriting, but it takes a lot of practice. In school play, it is going to be a factor and one that at least some opponents (or their coaches) will try to take advantage of when they can.

In games with official referees, the layup shot can be used to get fouls called on an opposing player, a deliberate strategy in official games, even at the middle-school level. This can be done when the shooter moves in and holds his ground in the face of an incoming blocker. So it is critical for a layup shooter not to fade in the face of a strong and moving blocker, but instead to absorb the blow. School coaches will even prepare their players for this by using a pad to bump them (Hobson).  The strategy to be used is called drawing contact and occurs when the defensive player basically charges or flies directly into the shooter; or even better, when the shooter positions himself where he expects an already airborne player to land. The defensive player does not have his feet firmly planted, meaning he is not in a legal guarding or blocking position, and that is a foul. In the event a foul is not called (or made), standing your ground will leave you correctly positioned, rather than forcing you to shoot while leaning back. Take care not to have an offense foul called on you, in this case the foul of charging, which happens when you run into a defense player who is already stationary, holding his ground (The Gym).

As your skill level advances (if it advances) not all of your layups will be made cleanly from the side you start from. Instead, success doing layups will eventually depend on your ability to advance to the next level of play: rather than moving in from (say) the left side and making the shot with your left hand, you continue under the basket and make the shot from the other side, in this case the right (Morrissey, 2009). This may or may not require you to make the shot with your other hand. Some reverse layups feature the shooter turning around and making the shot while facing the court, or even spinning 180 or 360 degrees before making the shot with the appropriate hand. These moves are rarely successful for less skilled players, as they depend on sheer skill and luck. (They are correspondingly more common in the best professional play.) Whatever reverse layout is used, having that skill makes defense more difficult, as it effectively makes the shooter ambidextrous while at the same time opening up both sides of the basket for a shot. And since such shots are dependent on strong forward movement, the defense must be already in place in order to get charging fouls called on the offense. It should be clear from this that earning fouls is an integral element of basketball strategy in official games.

As mentioned earlier, layups are particularly well-suited for drill. There are several specific approaches. The most common are the Mikan layup drill and the Fordson drill. The Mikan drill uses only one player, basically shooting from one side, catching the ball as it drops from the basket, taking a step forward and then shooting from that side. This drill can be continued as long as the shooters interest or energy lasts. The Fordson drill uses two players, one standing at the free-throw line, the other one step out of bounds under the basket. He calls out either left or right and throws the ball to the shooter, who then either charges or dribbles once before making the layup from the side that was called. The two players then switch positions.

There are as many variations on this theme as one can think up, but they are the same in that they don’t involve a defense. Bringing in blockers is that next stage. The trick here is to keep the drill from degenerating into the equivalent of a pickup game. This can be done by either limiting the number of non-layup shots, or requiring a minimum number of them. The main new element, however, is to practice getting and avoiding fouls. So fouling should always be a part of advanced layup drill, and of course this requires a neutral and skilled referee (usually the coach).

All that is old school. That school still in session, but there is a new kid on the block: computer games, and web-based videos such as are available on YouTube. The games are getting better, cheaper (for resale), and more powerful all the time (YouTube.com, 2009). With the popularity of the iPad, they can be brought directly to the sidelines, both for drill and active play. Now, players can not only study games and moves in sharp and realistic computer graphics, giving them a clear view from any vantage, they can watch actual games as well. This allows them to replay those games, turning pivotal moves into drills. Computer games now give so much greater control over imaginary players that a whole new vocabulary of basketball has arisen, consisting of terms relating to game-console controls (R2 Flick Analogue being an example). These technologies will change the way basketball is learned, practiced, and played.

In some of the schoolyard and gym games I witnessed in researching this paper, I recognized almost all of the layup moves and plays I’d seen online. However, at the non-professional level, the reverse layout didn’t contribute much to the games and was shortly dropped. The problem is that, not being mastered, it is detrimental to team play. The experimental player soon learns that the basics still apply, and that old fashioned practice and play is a requirement. Instead of trying for a reverse layup, a pass would have been better.

Even the basic layup was done badly at least as often as it was done well. Players were often poor in transitioning from the run to the shot, often stopping and then hopping with both feet aloft and trying to shoot with both hands, almost like a free throw, a mistake occasionally made even by older players who should have known better. Wrong approaches made shooting with the wrong hand necessary (although in about half the time the shots were made anyway). Fouls were missed, either by the referee or the players themselves, and too many shots that would have made with the backstop were missed because they rebounded off the rim when the shooter tried to get the ball directly into the basket. The better players were let down by their teammates and so their games provided poor examples of the layup shot in action, as there was no need to carry it out correctly. In the end, the games I saw failed both as games and as drill.

My first recommendation for improvement is a simple one: require a minimum number of backstop layup shots to keep players focused on the square within the backstop. Some observers think that professional players are using the square less and less, and that is probably true. But at the student-level of the game, the square remains essential for the layup shot.

My second recommendation is that in both layup drill and play, shooters be regularly videoed and then critiqued. I think this will prove decisive, and will increasingly be seen even in pickup games on the driveway. By comparing their own layups in instant replay and then comparing that same shot in clear videogame graphics, players both young and old will be able to better polish their layups. Soon all players will be seeing themselves as others see them.

Analysis/Skill Sheet

Scale of 1 – 5 (5 is best)

In Drill

Analysis Skill Sheet

References

Basketballkorea.com. (2009, October 29). Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBClmShJqWs

Hobson, S. (n.d.). Finishing layups after contact. Retrieved from http://www.ehow.com/video_4959192_finishing-layups-after-contact.html

Morrissey, H. (2009, March 29). How to shoot a reverse layup in basketball. Retrieved from http://www.mademan.com/mm/how-shoot-reverse-lay-basketball.html

The Gym. Top ten most misunderstood basketball rules. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.thegym-il.com/pages/10_most_misunderstood.pdf

YouTube.com. The evolution of the basketball video game. (2009, September 3). Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFmzl0QD2BU

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