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Finishing School (I) - Game Finishes

Updated: Oct 30, 2020

Part I of the Finishing School blog series is going to focus on game footage finishes. These are certain finishes that have been taught in the practice setting, and then applied in games.

Finishing School is a term I use on my practice plans which simply refers to a portion of practice where we work on the skill of scoring at the rim. This usually is a 15-20 minute window of practice in which we do a progression of drills that work on finishing.

In these drills we are presenting players with an opportunity to practice a number of different finishes. Within these drills we not only teach the footwork and technique behind them, but the appropriate time to use them. The majority of players will probably lean on 1-2 of these finishes in game, but we feel as though the exposure to all of them will give them more tools at the rim.

Single Foot Finishes

Single foot finishes are ones in which you are taking off from one foot and extending yourself towards the rim. These are probably the finishes that players have the most experience with and will come more naturally to them. With single foot finishes we are trying to get the basketball to the backboard before a help defender can block the shot.

Extended Arm

Extended Arm Finishes are the easiest to find on game film. The offensive player will open his chest to the middle of the court and extend the basketball as high to the rim as he can get it. We will sometimes practice these with the players picking the ball up with only one hand to simulate the extension.

This finish allows the offensive player to get the ball to the backboard before a help defender or shot blocker can get there.

Inside Hand

The Inside Hand finish is something we will often practice on the left hand side of the rim. With the majority of players being right handed we want to encourage players to finish at the rim with their strong hand. With similar form to the extended finish we will teach players to open their chest to the sideline and extend the basketball as high to the rim as they can.

Not only are we trying to get the ball to the backboard to avoid a shot blocker, but it can sometimes throw off the rhythm of the defender who might be anticipating a left handed finish.


The Scoop Finish is a unique finish that a lot of players do not have in their repertoire. This is a finish that can helpful to smaller players or players who are challenging taller guys at the rim. Once again we are trying to get the basketball on the backboard before that shot blocker can get there.

The technique we would teach would have the player's chest towards the baseline, not open like in extended arm. We still want the ball extended out in front of us to avoid the blocked shot as well. As depicted in the video often times the offensive player may cut his defender off and slow down, shielding him from the shot.

Two Foot Finishes

Two Foot Finishes are generally finishes that we are using in traffic or when we are looking to stop quickly. These finishes are better at absorbing body to body contact and also allowing you to stop & use other options (reverse pivot, up fake, pass etc). If you have not created a large advantage, these two foot finishes also allow you to stop and perhaps use the momentum of your defender against them.

Jump Stops

The Jump Stop is a finish that we are practicing on both sides of the rim. We are looking for 2-3 dribbles and the last dribbles being a large leap towards the rim. We are landing softly on two feet, getting our shoulders squared to the rim, and finishing with our outside hand.

We really encourage this move when players are driving into a crowded area. We also really like this finish if it is a scenario where we are looking to deliver contact to a defender.

Stride Stops

A Stride Stop finish provides us with many of the same advantages as the two foot Jump Stop, but this time we will have our back turned to our defender and have slightly different footwork. Our footwork with the Stride Stop is "Inside Foot" then "Outside Foot". This allows us now to either finish, be prepared to pass, or be prepared to pivot to the backside.

We are generally encouraging players to use the stride stop if the advantage is small or they need to shield them the ball from the defense.

Stride Stop, Reverse Pivot

The Stride Stop, Reverse Pivot is used when a defender has closed the advantage late. You can no pivot away from the defender and shield your layup attempt (or jump hook) from the defense.

Concluding Thoughts

Drilling players on a number of different finishes will allow them to gain exposure to different solutions, and ultimately decide what they are most comfortable using. In Part II of the Finishing School Series we are going to take a look at some 1/0 and 1/1 Guided Defense Drills we can use in practice to help teach these techniques.

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