Player Development: Finishing at the Rim

By John Leonzo

Being able to capitalize and finish the opportunities that you get at the rim is a separator that differentiates good teams from great teams. It is almost a coaching cliche to say “if we make layups we will win the game”, and there is some truth to that statement. Because of various situations that a player may find themselves in during a game situation, it is vital that they are able to execute multiple finishes around the rim. Below you will find a list of essential finishes that every player must have as part of their game:

Finish #1: Extended finish

The extended finish is effective when a defender is trailing you or slightly on your hip. Using the body to prevent the defense from getting closer to the ball while simultaneously extending the ball away from one’s body will allow the offensive player to score with consistency at speed. Getting the ball away from your body and the defender enables the finisher to score without affording the defense a chance to block, alter, or contest a layup.Inside hand finish

Finish #2: Inside hand finish

The inside hand finish can also be used when a defender is trailing the offense or slightly on their hip. By extending the inside hand to score the offense will again be able to get the ball away from their body, while also getting more narrow as a means to slide by their defender and get an advantage. Additionally, the inside hand can be used to score before a help defender is able to time up and block the shot as well due to the surprising nature of the finish.Reverse finish

Finish#3: Reverse finish

The reverse finish is essential because it allows the offensive player a chance to use the rim and net to shield the ball from defenders, and also allows a finishing option if the initial angle of the drive is poor. I am not too bent out of shape as to what hand the reverse is finished with. The key element is for the offense to get their body on the defense and the ball away.

Finish #4: 2 foot finish

This is a great finish for high school players as it promotes balance, control, and coordination when in the paint. This is a great finish to use when the defense is on the hip of the offensive player as they attack the basket. Another time to use this finish is to shield the ball from weakside help defenders. A key to effectively using this finish is to get your chest pointed towards the baseline and your shoulder in the chest of the defense as you score.

Finish #5: Evade finish

The evade finish is used when the offensive player has to avoid a secondary defender while they are attacking the basket. Some examples of evade finishes are spin finishes, euro-steps, or a pro-hop. I chose the pro-hop as my favorite because of the balance and control that come from the 2-foot landing. Regardless of what move the player uses, they need to get close enough to the help defense so that they force the defender to commit to them. If the defender is not forced to commit, the defense will just move with the evade and contest the finish. My teaching point here is “get close to get away”.

Finish #6: Floater finish

If the help side defender does not come out of the paint, it makes no sense for the offense to drive into the defense and take a contested shot. In this instance, a floater is preferable. Some key teaching points to the floater are to “be a high jumper” to avoid the charge, to “always be above the net” so the ball gets over the defense and has a chance to fall, and lastly to use the dominant hand whenever possible.

Here is a video showcasing many of the finishes described above:

Here are some key teaching points to emphasize regardless of the finish being used:

Teaching Point #1: Finish “Above The Block”

The big idea here is dealing with the angle of attack. Generally speaking, when the offense drives underneath or below the block, they have a poor angle to score and their shooting percentage drops. Conversely, when the offense drives through or above the block, good angles emerge and scoring rises.

Teaching Point #2: “Body On, Ball Away”

As referenced throughout this post, the offense should get their body on the on-ball defender and extend the ball away so that the defense does not have a chance to alter, contest, or block the shot.

Teaching Point #3: “Make Layups With Your Eyes”

Simply put, watch the ball hit the target and fall into the net. This will promote and enhance player balance, leading to consistency. Additionally, it will focus the players attention on the intended outcome rather than trying to avoid contact or working too hard to seek contact out.

Drills for Teaching Finishing

Drill #1: Form Finishes

In this drill have the player get a feel for the 6 finishes by having them make 6 shots each of all 6 finishes. Complete for the fastest time possible.

A coach (1) stands with the ball on the baseline. There are two cones set above each block. The payer (2) will cut around the cone, catch a pass from the coach and then perform a finish. Upon finishing, toss the ball back to the coach and execute on the opposite side.

A coach (1) stands with the ball on the baseline. There are two cones set above each block. The player (2) will cut around the cone, catch a pass from the coach and then perform a finish. Upon finishing, toss the ball back to the coach and execute on the opposite side.

Drill #2: Weakside Finishes

In this drill, the player has a chance to score against a live recovering defender. Some great solutions for the offense in this drill would be the evade finish, 2 foot finish, or floater


1 begins with the ball on the elbow and will speed dribble around the cone at the top of the key. Once 1 takes their first dribble, x1 must sprint around the cone and defend. 1 can score only in the paint. Switch after each shot and play first to 7 points by 1s.

Drill #3: Blind Finishes

In this drill the offense has to score against a defender that is recovering. The key skills for the offense to work here are trying to drive through or above the block, using the extended, inside, and reverse finishes, and lastly using there eyes to make layups.


1 begins with the ball on the wing (or any spot you want). x1 faces the basket with their back turned to the offense. The offense puts the ball on the back of x1. When 1 rips the ball, x1 recovers to be a live defender. Play to 7 by 1s.


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John Leonzo

John Leonzo is the CEO of John Leonzo Basketball where he seeks to provide the highest quality training for both players and coaches. Through on the court training with players and online courses for coaches, John is able to make an impact in all the areas of the game.

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March 20, 2016 – St. Louis, Missouri, U.S – Xavier Musketeers forward JALEN REYNOLDS (1) gets inside Wisconsin Badger forward ETHAN HAPP (22) for a reverse layup shot during the second round of the Midwest Region in the 2016 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, where #10 Wisconsin upsets #2 Xavier by the score of 63-60 to advance to the sweet 16., held at The Scottrade Center in St. Louis, MO (Credit Image: © Richard Ulreich via ZUMA Wire)

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