Dribble close to the basket with your left hand. Since you're doing a left-handed lay up, angle your approach toward the left side of the basket. You want to get close enough to have easy access to the basket, but not so close that you end up directly under it.

  • Lay ups are often taken off of a running dribble. Practice approaching the basket slowly at first, and increase your speed once you've got the footwork down.
  • You can do a left-handed lay up if you're starting near the center or left side of the basket. If you're approaching the basket from the right, you'll want to do a right-handed lay up.

Step toward the basket with your left foot. When you're just a few steps from the basket (around the edge of the painted area), take a step toward it with our left foot.

Jump off of your right foot. As soon as your right foot lands, use it to jump in the direction of the basket. Your body should be moving toward the basket, but don't lean forward. Ideally, you'll be positioned close enough to the basket that you can jump straight up to take your shot.

Shoot with your left arm as you lift your left leg. As you jump, imagine a string attached to your left arm and your left leg. Move them at the same time as you shoot, as though someone were pulling upward on the string. Your left knee should be bent and pointed toward the basket while your left arm moves up to shoot the ball. Arch your arm toward the basket. Shoot with your elbow slightly bent, so that your arm looks like the neck of a swan.

  • When you're doing a lay up, the shooting technique is slightly different from that of a regular shot. Instead of using your right hand to steady the ball, you want to shoot the ball using only your left hand. This gives you more reach.

Aim for the sweet spot on the backboard. One of the reasons a lay up is such a sure bet is because you can always use the backboard to help ease the shot into the basket. When you're doing a left-handed lay up, the sweet spot is the top left of the small square in the center of the backboard. This spot absorbs the impact of the ball and drops it down through the net. There's nothing worse than missing a wide-open lay up, so work on hitting that sweet spot every time.

Practice until your muscles remember the movement. The lay up is a fundamental basketball move that will become second nature after you practice it enough. You should get to the point where your body remembers what to do and you don't have to think about which foot to put forward and which one to jump off. Do lay ups as part of every basketball practice.

  • As you practice, you'll start to get a good sense for how fast to approach the basket and from what distance to begin your lay up footwork and launch into a jump.
  • Work on doing lay ups while you're being defended or off of a long pass.

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