The game of basketball may seem crude at first, with its simple goal of getting an orange ball to drop through a netted hoop that is ten feet off the ground. In contract, there are actually dozens of offensive team strategies, in addition to dozens more types of shots a player can take on the rim. An excellent player has an extensive arsenal of weapons to choose from.
One of the simplest and most reliable shots is the lay-up. Unlike a jump shot or other attempt, lay-ups are almost exclusively taken near the rim, usually in motion towards it, and are simply an attempt where the player gently lays the ball off his or her hand near the basket. It can be thought of as, on a scale of closeness to the rim, the next step down from a dunk: The hand never actually touches the rim, but can be within mere inches.
A basic lay-up would consist of a player on an undefended fast break running towards the rim, jumping from a close distance and, as he or she glides towards the basket, raising the hand carrying the ball and, at its apex, lifting and releasing the ball toward the backboard, hoping that it bounces off and into the net.
That is the essence of how to shoot a lay-up! Once mastered, it is a shot that can usually be depended on for scoring success, especially when presented with an open opportunity. Anyone learning the game should start with a simplistic lay-up shot: Use the strong hand, jump from the opposite foot, attack the rim from an angle, aim for the square on the backboard.
Then, for advanced players, there are advanced version of the lay-up, with slight adaptations based on situation.
Used when driving down the baseline under the rim, the Reverse jumps from in front of the rim but ends on the other side, with the player flipping the ball up and backwards toward the rim or backboard. This misdirection can prove advantageous when defended hard in the paint.
The finger-roll is a classic lay-up, used almost in a taunting manner, because its dainty nature implies that an adequate defender should be able to smash it into the stands. The player jumping towards the rim keeps the ball flat on his or her up-facing palm; then, at the last possible moment, when the hand is passing directly next to the rim, just neatly lets the ball literally roll off the tips of the fingers. When done properly, it is a very graceful looking shot, and requires a bit of finesse.
Only for players capable of massive hang-time, the Switch happens when a player goes up with one hand but, in midair, finds the shot defended by an opposing player. Then, hoping for it to be a surprise, the offensive player will actually switch the ball to the other hand and attempt the lay-up. Done correctly, this provides a newly undefended attempt. A Switch can also be utilized when attacking the rim from an awkward or unfavorable angle, when using the weak hand will actually provide a better shot.
Those are the basics of the lay-up and, as shown as nightly highlight reels during the NBA season, it is an essential and potentially exciting shot, absolutely necessary for all developing players looking to add a close-range, high-percentage shot to their repertoire.