The first players I remember seeing use the off foot finish were Steve Nash, Tony Parker, & JJ Barea. At first my reaction was “did he mean to do that?” or “man that looked weird”. Now nearly every NBA & WNBA player uses this layup at one point or another regardless of size or athleticism.
If you are like me, from a certain age when you started playing basketball you were taught that there is a “right” way to do a layup and a “wrong” way. In other words, if you are performing a right handed layup you jump off your left foot every time, if you are performing a left handed layup you jump off your right foot every time. Yes, this is true to some extent-but the higher the level you plan to play on the more pivotal it becomes to be able to perform the off foot finish in different situations. Here’s why:
It throws off the defenses’ timing
Most shot blockers are accustomed to watching an offensive player jump off a certain foot for their layups- so they prepare themselves to block the shot accordingly. When you use the off foot finish it throws their timing off just enough to get your shot on target. It is effective against both the man guarding you and the shot blocker lurking around the paint.
You don’t need to jump high
I know this layup has become even more popular with players such as Steph Curry and Kyrie Irving using it, but where do you think they got it from? Steve Nash will be the first to say that he was not the fastest at his position, but part of what allowed him to be one of the best point guards of all-time were crafty finishes at the rim (such as this finish). Parker and Barea have won NBA championships and had great international success. Though Parker and Barea have been two of the quicker guards in the NBA for some time, neither of them has ever been known for their leaping ability.
You don’t need to be quick to use it
Like Nash, if you combine footwork with a finish such as this you don’t need to be the quickest player on the floor. You can even get away with using this finish when you are side by side with your defender if you are crafty enough. This means you don’t have to be able to blow by your defender like Russell Westbrook does, you just have to be able to get them on your hip.
How can you work on it?
The cool thing is you don’t need a rebounder or a ton of space for this one. I teach athletes to start slow and work their way up towards game speed from there. If you’re playing pickup ball you can do this a few times while you’re waiting for the next game (but please don’t get in the way of the game or I cannot save you).
Start just a few feet away from the basket and take two steps into and underhand finish. Most of the athletes I work with start by literally walking in slow motion into the finish until they feel comfortable. People walking by may scratch their heads, but it is effective. When things begin to feel natural then you can go a little faster or take a step away from the basket while adding a dribble. Continue that process as far away from the basket as you want. Next thing you know you are going to surprise yourself by using it in a game!