Why You Should Stop Doing The 2-Line Lay Up Drill In Warm Ups

One thing that I see in almost every pregame warm up is the traditional two line lay up drill.

Even though I'm guilty of doing this at the beginning of my coaching career, I think it's a mistake to do this. I think it's a waste of time and you could be doing something else that makes your players better.

Here's why...

Rarely does anybody shoot a lay up in a straight line, from the same spot, at the same angle, with the same amount of dribbles, and with no defense present.

But over the course of the season, we're wasting hundreds of repetitions doing this in warm ups.

At the very least, change the angle and the distance on every repetition. Similar to this drill:

I think you should also run some 1v1 finishing drills. Here is an example of one:

Kyrie Irving does something similar in his warm ups.

Here is an excerpt from a recent ESPN article on Kyrie Irving which is a good read.

When he (Irving) played for the Cavs, he would instruct Shumpert to ambush him in the layup line during pregame warm-ups. Instead of benignly rebounding the ball for him, Shumpert was to turn, without warning, and aggressively aim to block Irving's shot. "That way," Shumpert says, "Kyrie could practice suddenly changing angles on his finishes."

Some will say that they just do the traditional lay up drill to warm up. If that's true, I believe you are wasting valuable court time.

You should have your warm up finished before you even get on the court. You can warm up in the hallway, locker room, or some other small space.

If you'd like to learn more common mistakes about pregame warm ups and solutions to help you overwhelm your opponent at the start of the game, check out this article:

Avoid These Game-Day Warm Up Mistakes That Could Cause You To Lose Games!

What do you think? Let us know by leaving your comments, suggestions, and questions...


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Brian says:
1/12/2020 at 11:17:43 AM

The two line lay up drill is the traditional next step after running out on to the floor. It is simply designed to combined running, dribbing, passing and keeps everyone involved It allows for everyone to be moving, loosen up and burns off some game time nervous energy. It's something that we did for 4 mins max before one on one defensive slides and block out drills. After these drills half shot around while the other half stretched. Then we switched off.
If you are a coach who see a team doing this and you think they arent doing what needs to be done to prep for the games correctly. You are going to be an easy W. Games are won in the off season. Running plays repeated is for October and November. If your system is working then kids have been learning, practicing and executing the same basic offense for year with more options added as they understand the flow and begin to execute.
How a team warms up is their preference. If it is the two line lay ups then so be it. If is running side to side sprints then ok. If it's only shooting free throws then perfect. Each team is unique to what they need to focus on in each situation. To each his own.


Randy says:
1/24/2018 at 12:52:44 PM

For my 7th grade boys basketball team, we do the same two lay up drills to start each practice and as our pre-game warm up. Boys at this age miss far too many layups. My thought is to eventually minimize missed layups and to ingrain that this is a higher percentage shot than taking a contested three point shot.

  1 reply  

Randy says:
1/24/2018 at 12:54:38 PM

"rather than" taking a contested three point shot


Michael says:
1/23/2018 at 4:13:10 PM

While I agree the kids should be warmed-up prior to getting into the gym, many also want to watch the current game. Doing the lay-ups is a good way to warm-up, gain confidence in shooting and get a feel for the backboard.
Running plays, etc. for practice is too little, too late. Get the blood flowing, get them comfortable and then get started with the game.

  1 reply  

Joe Haefner says:
1/23/2018 at 4:46:09 PM

Thanks for your thoughts, Michael.

I don't practice plays in my pregame warm up. More drills and thoughts are in this article about the pregame warm up.


You also need to mentally "wake up" your players with decision-making and other things. I've found that physically warming up and mentally warming up are two different things. Otherwise, they won't perform as well early in the game as they're capable.

Once I made these changes and more mentioned in the article, it helped us perform better early in the game and develop over the course of a season.


Gary says:
1/23/2018 at 3:49:35 PM

This is spot on. When I see the team we are about to play using layup lines to warm up, I can tell that they have not put too much time into game prep.

We use a 5 out motion offense, so our pregame warmup drills put emphasis on those fundamentals. For example, we run a give and go drill where we have two wings and one player on the baseline with the ball. This player passes out to one of the wings, then immediately closes out on that player. The wing that received the pass, passes it to the other wing, then front or back cuts the defender to the basket, receives a return pass, and shoots a layup, or short jumper. The defender then turns around and becomes one of the wing players. We do this on both sides of the court, so that once you make your layup, you become the baseline player on the other side.

This gives us a ton of good passes, layups and jumpers, and closing out, pregame, and helps to put the players in the mindset of our offense.


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