This article was written by VMI assistant men's basketball coach Chris Kreider
Starting anything without finishing it is pointless. It is literally “pointless” when it comes to having the moves to get all the way to the rim and then not finishing the play by converting a lay-up or dunk. For any serious player this is something that immediately demands attention.
In fact, the ironic thing is that most young players wait until it is too late to start dissecting this skill and realizing the importance of finishing around the basket. The fact of the matter is that the best players at every level are able to both – get to the paint or rim while finding a way to finish the play in every possible scenario.
Why not START NOW by studying and working on THE FINISH! Here are 10 keys for becoming a better finisher at the rim.
Study every single finish you can find! Watch film. But not just your game film. Watch the best players in the world in the NBA Finals for example. Granted, there are varying levels of basketball and obviously varying levels of skill sets within the game.
The goal of every single player or team at their respective levels is to play at the “next level” – which means the best thing to do would be to watch that “next level” for learning purposes! The speed of the game and the size at every position makes the attention to every detail that much more important!
Break each offensive possession down at the moment of truth and evaluate the technique and details of each finish.
Improve your “touch”! Just like ball-handling and shooting, finishing can be improved by working on it daily. This is a great way to start off any workout or practice (varying speeds). Have a routine and stick to it!
Develop a sense of creativity! The game isn’t perfect. Neither should our workouts when it comes to finishing. Varying the way in which we get to the paint and basket is one thing (dribble moves/using screens/etc.), but we also need to allow for variation when it comes to how we are getting the ball on the rim!
Get to Your Spot
Get to the rim when you can and always know how to get to your spot! Whatever you do, don’t drive it too deep into the “teeth of the defense”! The best finishers live at the “SoCon” (logo) or the rim and have a plan for both!
Work on both types of finishes so that you are able to read every situation and get the finish that you want and not what the defense tries to make you take.
Evaluate the “take off”! Perhaps the most important part of the finish is the location of the ball right before take-off. Bringing the ball back to the defense or “rocking the ball” at that point will be the difference between being able to get the ball on the rim and allowing the defender to get a hand on the ball or worse yet turning the ball over.
To avoid this, always position the ball on the outside shoulder at the time of “take off”!
Go To Move
Have a “Go-To-Move” but also have a repertoire of finishes (and give them a name while you are at it)! The game is not a lay-up line! Due to the speed of the game and 9 other moving bodies, more times than not you will not be able to get to the front of the rim.
So now what? Be prepared to be able to get the ball on the rim in multiple ways (over-hand, under-hand, inside-hand reverse, outside hand reverse, runner or floater off one foot or both feet, euro, etc.) and give them each a name for easy reference!
Be able to change your release point at any point in time! You might have a clear path to the basket on some drives, but most times that will not be the case. Prepare for these different scenarios by being able to adjust and release the ball in different ways at every position on the floor!
Weaknesses to Strengths
Work on your weak hand continuously! Not only do you have to work on it, but you have to trust it. These are both separate things and both equally important.
Knowing when to use it and coming up with basketball drills to work on it is one thing, but actually using your weak-hand in live action (especially when the game is on the line) is the tough thing. When your weak hand is needed don’t second guess it! Trust it!
Use the Glass
Have a relationship with the glass! You need it! Don’t be stubborn! I love this quote by Kevin Eastman, “Eyes make lay-ups. Feet make jump shots.” The more you use the glass around the rim, the higher percentage shooter you will be.
You are moving, but the target is not! “High off the glass” is the teaching point!
Finish Through Contact
Deliver the first blow at all times and play 1-0 at the rim instead of 1-1 whenever possible! If you have the angle on your defender look to create contact before finishing. If you allow the defender to come to you and bump into you first, it will cause you to take an off balance finish.
Creating the contact also helps to eliminate a shot blockers ability to get off of the ground to contest your finish.
Missing is never ok! It doesn’t matter it is 1-0 or 5-5; a missed lay-up or dunk is exactly that…a missed lay-up or dunk and results in an empty offensive possession for your team. Not finishing a play in the paint or at the rim has to have consequences at all times!
The summer is a great time to get in the gym on your own to get shots up and work on your ball-handling, but be sure not to neglect the skill of finishing around the basket!
Don’t wait until it’s too late to incorporate this segment into your workout routine – this season, next season, etc.! START NOW BY WORKING ON THE FINISH! Checkout our Finishing at the Rim category for training videos specific to finishing.