There are a lot of games that are won by the team that scores most in the paint. On the other hand there is nothing more frustrating for coaches and players alike than getting to the rim and then missing the lay-up. There are very few times in the game when a player gets the chance of a lay-up that is wide open. This is why it is so important that players be taught how to score while being closely guarded. I’ve put together several points that emphasize finishing at the rim with contact.
Jump off both Feet
Being able to finish at the rim really has more to do with leverage than about who is the taller player. To create leverage, players first need to be taught about correct balance. The jump stop should therefore be among the first skills that are taught players how to do. This helps to cut down on traveling violations as well as prepare them to finish at the rim by jumping off steadily with both feet.
The dribbler, when attacking the rim, must be aware of defenders and keep the eyes up. When a defender has established a good position, he should jump-stop to either shoot or pass the ball out to the open team mate. If he chooses to shoot, then he’ll have a good balance. When the player jumps with just one foot, he’ll be out of balance and will have problems when contact is caused by the defender.
Square your Shoulders to the Board
Whenever you jump-stop, make sure your shoulders a squared to the backboard. This will allow you to absorb contact by using the inside of your shoulder while keeping the ball away from a good shot blocker. When players jump off one foot, they tend to open up their shoulders to the defender. This will expose the ball and it increases the likelihood of a blocked shot. Players who are smaller and square their shoulders to the backboard have a better chance to finish at the rim when going up against a taller player.
Once you have jump-stopped with your shoulders squared to the backboard, lean into your defender slightly in order to create contact with your defender. When contact is created using the inside shoulder it helps with negating any size differential that may exist between two players. Having contact also tends to straighten the body of the shooter so that it is parallel and vertical with the rim. This helps to keep your shoulders squared to the backboard. Not too many shot blockers will take a charge, therefore the risk of committing the offensive foul through creating contact is relatively low. It forces the defender to try to block your shot while committing a foul or allowing you to take a lay-up. You need to emphasize strengthening the body’s core in strength training. This will allow you to be able to score consistently while absorbing contact.
Players need to be taught to finish high for a better chance of making the shot. Finish with a high arch and a high release. This skill needs to be practiced and drilled in order for you to consistently score at the rim. Having a video of the players doing the drill is a good idea for coaches, since it will highlight all the advantages that finishing high offers. Even when the shot is missed, it provides an opportunity for teammates to get an offensive rebound and score.
Finishing With Both Hands
Shooting lay-ups with both hands, in addition to teaching jump-stops, should also be among the first skills that you should be taught. All players need to have the ability to finish at the rim using either one of their hands, no matter which hand is their dominant one. This is necessary in order to finish from any angle, even when there is contact. Some referees have a tendency to not call fouls against players shooting lay-ups using the inside hand, so scoring with both hands needs to be taught from early on. Good players should dedicate time outside of practice working on it to become a good finisher at the rim.