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Finishing at the rim – How to improve

In a previous article that I had written about shooting, I had divided the shooting into three types: finishing in layups, jump shot, or stopped. In this article, I will focus on finishing at the rim-layups.

The second most common throw in basketball is the layup, that typical layup that you learn when you start playing basketball. However, this release is less and less used in the game, unless there is a clear situation of 1x0.

Several types of layups, 1 foot layup, reverse layup, reverse under the rim, inside or outside hand, floater, euro-step, and many more were created.

However, to know how to finish close to the basket, you need a set of skills that will help you be successful and master this very important skill in the game.

Focus on footwork

Footwork is the basis for everything in the basketball game and knowing how to use the feet according to each game situation will make it easier for the player to finish near the basket. It is very common on the right side of the field to know how to do 1st foot with the right foot and the 2nd foot with the left foot and finish, but it is also necessary to know how to do left-right and finish with the left hand on the right side.

For this, it is necessary to know how to use both feet on both sides of the field.

One of the finishes that is used a lot in which the footwork is evident, is the Rondo finish.

Note that it is necessary to make a stride stop and use the axle foot to gain space. This finish demonstrates that without a good footwork there was nothing.

Finishing Strong with contact

By step, the older the players are, the stronger the opposition will be. There will be stronger, bigger players and any player (big, small, strong or less physically strong) will have to be able to finish with contact.

It is extremely important to know how to “suffer” contact from one side of the body and finish with the hand further away, or even create legal contact to get the defender out of play.

Finishing with contact is trainable, often it is enough for the trainer to “simulate” contact with a mattress or a Swiss ball.

Diversify finishes moves

The last important aspect is to be able to finish in several ways, using both hands. However we can know how to finish in several ways, but it is also important to know how to read the defender to adjust the finish.

For me a fantastic player in this aspect is Goran Dragic who practically only finish with his left hand (his strongest hand), but always adjusts his finish according to the position of his defender.

Take a look at this video, made by the channel By any Means Basketball, where the form of Goran Dragic is analyzed in detail.

Types of Finishes

To master the ability to shoot close to the basket, it is necessary to start from the simple to move on to the complex. For that, I will leave here some types of finishing that I use with my athletes when they are in an initial learning phase.


Normal layup

Normal Layup but with inside foot, finishing with inside hand

Euro-Step for the baseline and to the middle

Under the basket

1 foot finishing with both hands

Inversion and finishing with both hands

As they evolve, I demand some execution speed as well as adding and simulating some contact. In this way they are able to transfer training to the game, as they are training real game situations.

How to improve the finishing at the rim?

To improve this aspect of the game, you need a lot of practice and a lot of repetition of the movement. The exercises I use, I look for finishing under the basket after dribbling and under the basket after passing. Because I believe that although the finish can be the same, in terms of footwork and speed of execution are different.

Drill Nº1: X Finishes

Finishing - Drill Nº1: X Finishes

The drill starts with four columns, two in the midfield facing each other and two in the forward position. The forward columns all start with a ball and only the first of one of the midfield columns with a ball. The first player of one of the columns of the midfield makes 3 passes with the first player of the opposite column of the midfield. After the third pass, he will cut to the basket on the opposite side where he was and finish with a pass from the end.

Rotation: whoever finishes catches the bounce and goes to the end of the row on the side where he shoot it. The winger who passed the ball goes to the end of the midfield column on the side where he was. Example: 1-6-2-5-1

In this exercise I am looking for several finishes, it is also possible to train finishing from post positions.

Drill Nº2: American Wheel

Basketball Drill - Shooting: American Wheel

 This exercise is very simple and quite adaptable to any team and any level. It aims to work the shoot under and near the basket on a marital basis.

The exercise begins with two columns to the extreme, all athletes with the ball except the first one column only. The player without the ball cuts to the basket upon completion and receives the ball from the first player in the column with the ball. Then, the player who made the first pass cuts to the basket to the opposite side of the previous player and receives the pass from the player who is in the row on the side to which he cuts. And always like this successively. It is possible and advisable to vary all types of finishes (normal pass, counter pass, euro-step, hoop pass, post-cut, direct block, …).

Basketball Drill - Shooting: American Wheel

In the explanation presented, it only demonstrates the low pitch and close to the basket after passing, however, a ball can be added to the player without a ball and finished after the dribble, alternating between the first of each column to finish.

Other types of drills

Working finishing near the basket is a lot of work in individual training. In this type of training, if the player already knows the movement it is important to do it at the highest possible intensity.

This exercise that I will present here is not my own, but it is a drill that I do regularly when I give individual training and in these, finishing is the main focus.

This drill contains several variants and it is important to develop the shooting touch, Kyrie Irving was one of the first players to appear publicly to do this exercise.

Mikan Drill

Ready to become an expert in finishing at the rim?

Being an expert finishing near the basket is not an easy task, especially if you are a short player. Because you will face players much taller and stronger. However, there are many players who are shorter and have an extraordinary ability to finish in spaces near the basket and often over taller players.

So, regardless of height, it is extremely important that any player knows how to finish close to the basket.

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