AT THE FINISH: ONE FOOT OR TWO?

by
Brian McCormick
High Five Hoop School

Throughout the season, I saw numerous examples of players missing shots or getting their shots blocked because they simply were unaware of their surrounmdings, their strengths in the situation, and their options.

Frequently, a small player beats a bigger defender and has a step advantage to the basket. Instead of using this advantage, keeping the defender behind him, and using a one-foot jump to extend to the basket and away from the defense, the player uses a two-foot jump stop. While this move enables the player to gain more power, which one may think would be an advantage against a bigger player, the offensive player needs to use his advantage in that situation.

By jump stopping, the offensive player allows the defender an extra half step of recovery. Instead of the defender being behind and out of position, suddenly he is in position to contest the shot. The power and balance gained through the jump stop are nullified as the defender is bigger, and thus already has the power/size advantage. The offensive player creates a much more difficult shot for himself, and gives athe defender a much better opportunity to contest the shot without fouling by using the jump stop in this situation.

Similarly, bigger players often missed shots off-balance because they failed to use a jump stop. As long as the biggger player uses his body and keeps the ball high to protect the ball, he should be able to finish over a smaller defender. However, many times the bigger player hurried his shot, fearful, I suppose, of the quicker player blocking the shot, and missed. In these instances, the bigger player should play to his strength, power and strength, and use the jump stop to create a solid base and better balance before powering to the basket.

As a player drives to the basket for a lay-up, he must decide whether to stop with a jump stop and jump off two feet for the shot or to continue to the basket jumping off one foot for the shot. Both are correct methods. However, the situation dictates which method is more correct.

The advantage of the shot off one-foot is that it is quicker and more explosive. When shooting off two feet, the player has better balance, control, and power. The player must understand the avantages of each shot and know when he should utilize each move.

One common rule is to use the jump stop anytime one expects contact. By gathering oneself with the jump stop, the player has a solid, low base of support to power to the basket, absorb the contact and finish the shot. While this rule is sound for big, strong players, it certainly is not a hard and fast rule for smaller, quicker players.

Many great guard finishers use the one-foot lay-up or runner effectively in traffic to finish around and over bigger players. The Dallas Mavericks' Steve Nash is a player who uses his body and the ability to shoot with either hand as well as any player in the league to finish around the basket. He shoots shots that appear nearly impoossible, but through practice, he is able to remain on balance and use the quickness advantage to get his shot off in the key. The Sacramento Kings' Mike Bibby is another diminutive player who finished mnay shots inside off one-foot. Duke University's Chris Duhon shoots the soft runner as well as anyone in the NBA or college game.

Nash and Bibby get to the basket and extend away from their defensive player, or the help defender, and protect the ball with their body. They keep their body between the defender and the ball, and extend with their arm to create the length needed to get their shot off against bigger defenders. Once they have a player on their hip, they keep them there and extend away from the defensive pressure; they use the one-foot take-off for a more explosive, quicker jump, and one that is more long jump, than high jump.

In many of these instances, if they jump stopped and tried to power through or over the bigger defender, they would be roofed by the defender and have little chance to make the basket or draw the foul.

Duhon uses the runner off one foot to shoot over bigger defenders. The runner is a quick shot that surprises the defender and throws off their timing. While Nash and Bibby typically extend past and away from the defense, Duhon shoots before he gets to the help defender, shooting the shot quick enough to float it over the out-stretched hand of the defense. If he stopped on two feet and tried to shoot a jump shot in these cases, or tried to power through the defense, his chances for success would diminish.

This is not to suggest that these players never use a jump stop. They do. However, they are selective and understand the situation. Oftentimes against a smaller defender or similarly-sized defender, they will use a jump stop in order to absorb the contact and still make the shot. Or, if they do not have a clear advantage to extend away from the defense, and anticipate contact, they will use the jump stop to collect themselves and power to the basket, trying to protect the ball, draw the contact, and then shoot the basket.

With no steadfast rule on when and how to use a one-foot or two-foot stop before shooting a lay-up, experience and understanding will improve decision-making skills. Players must understand the situation and their strengths in the split-second when they must make the decision. In general, play to the player's strengths in the situation. If the player is quicker and smaller, use the one-foot jump to extend away from the defense to create space for the shot. If the player is bigger and more powerful, use the jump stop to insure proper bfalance in order to power through the defender.

THANKS to BASKETBALL SENSE, The magazine for Winning Coaches, for permission
to use this article by the Director of the High Five Hoop School in Sacramento, CA
Go to: http://hi5hoopschool.tripod.com for Hoop School information.