It’s understood that in the game of basketball, centers and forwards will likely spend most of their playing careers in the paint. This is thanks to their tall statures, which allow them to handle more rebounds and score more layups. However, these players can’t rely on their height 100 percent of the time. It’s crucial to be quick, yet graceful, when playing down low.
DICK’S Sporting Goods Associate and former Princeton center Bob Garbade demonstrates how to be a better paint player with the Mikan Series drill set. Bob breaks down a beginner, intermediate and advanced drill that focuses on the importance of solid footwork when playing underneath the basket.
For each drill, you want to keep your momentum moving into each layup and should aim for 20 layups apiece before moving on to the next level of Mikan drills.
Focus on mastering the two-foot, one-handed layup. If you start on the right side of the basket, shoot the ball toward the top-right corner of the painted box (also known as the squad) with your right hand. If you start on the left, aim for the top-left corner of the box while shooting with your left hand.
Next, lay the ball in off the respective corner and make sure to grab the ball high when you go for the rebound. Don’t bring it to your stomach or chest. After you rebound the ball, make sure your outside foot plants underneath the basket, then pivot your other foot around and banking the ball in from the opposite side with your other hand.
Lay the ball in just like you did in the previous drill, but instead of using both of your feet in transition, use only one foot in between shots. For instance, after you lay the ball in from the right side, bring your right foot in and push off of it before shooting on the left. If you start from the left side, bring your left foot in and push off of it when shooting on the right. Remember that you should only use one foot in between shots and rebounds.
Start behind the basket and create one-handed, one-foot layups. This drill is very similar to the intermediate stage in terms of footwork. However, instead of facing the basket, you are going to have your back towards it the entire duration of the drill. Your momentum should take you into the next layup so always make sure you keep your body moving. This drill also requires quite a bit more focus since you won’t be looking directly at the backboard when shooting.