Because a lay-up may be the highest-percentage shot in basketball, offensive players should try to perform as many lay-ups as possible during each game. Individual players and teams must develop a mind-set that producing lay-ups is a top priority when playing offense. Offensive teammates need to do the little things on offense, such as setting screens for each other, cutting to open areas close to the basket, and making precise passes to teammates, in order to create as many lay-up opportunities as possible.
Various game situations where lay-ups and other inside shots are typically used include when a player cuts to the basket (e.g., the curl cut or backdoor cut) and receives a pass from a teammate; when a player uses a strong dribble-drive to advance the ball to the basket; when a player involved in a fast break receives the ball close to the basket and finishes the fast break; when a player establishes post position close to the basket and receives a pass from a teammate; and when a player gets an offensive rebound close to the basket and immediately shoots a second-chance shot. In each of these situations, the offensive player should remember to elevate off the ground using the correct foot, use the correct shooting hand, use the nonshooting hand to support the basketball, use the nonshooting arm and elbow to protect the basketball when a defender is challenging the shot, go up strongly and anticipate body contact when a defender is challenging (this may result in a defensive foul, generating two free throws for the offensive player), and use the target point on the backboard to maximize shooting success.
A few game situations may not warrant the use of the backboard with an inside shot, including times when an offensive player approaches the basket from the baseline or when an offensive player approaches the basket from the middle of the lane. Neither of these situations provides the offensive player with a good angle or view of the target point on the backboard. However, players should try to approach the basket using a good angle so that the target point on the backboard is in full view and usable for the inside shot whenever possible.
This is an excerpt from Basketball Fundamentals.