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How to Finish at the Rim Like Kyrie Irving

September 8, 2017

Kyrie Irving is a wizard around the basket. Call it whatever you want but the English, the spin he puts on the ball, his jelly, his layup package, his creative finishing ability is a spectacle.

Kyrie can execute his signature reverse finishes with both hands by putting the right amount of spin on the ball and kissing it off of the glass at just the right angle. All of this takes split-second calculation often while being swarmed by defenders. This is why Kyrie's finesse can seem so ridiculous at times and why not everyone in the league can do what he does.


To figure out how to spin it properly, the direction of spin you need, how much spin to put on the ball, and how to calculate the right angle at which the ball needs to hit the backboard all takes practice.


Irving is phenomenal below the rim, and while there's no denying his innate ability, what he does can be learned, practiced and improved upon.


In a video with USA Basketball Irving explains the methods he used to develop his ability and you can use his advice to become a better finisher at the rim.



Following Kyrie Irving's advice here is how you can practice your finishing ability:

  • Mikan Drill

    • The Mikan drill requires you to make layups with both hands on both sides of the basket. This drill is simple but will keep your touch around the rim sharp and will serve as the base upon which you can vary your finishes within the drill.

  • Various angles to the basket

    • The first variation of the Mikan drill you can use is standing and laying the ball up from different spots on the floor (instead of being directly under the basket like normal). This will force your layups to take different angles and allow you to get comfortable finishing from different spots in different situations.

      • Practice the Mikan drill from both in front of and behind the backboard as well as using both hands on each side to replicate different game-like finishes.

  • Different spots on the backboard

    • While you are practicing the Mikan drill lay the ball up using different places on the backboard (high, low, outside, inside). This will also increase your ability to finish in various situations and be able to keep the ball away from defenders on the shot.

  • Off Different Legs

    • As Kyrie explains, he uses many different types of finishes. Sometimes you can jump off of one foot with the intention to finish using one hand and then quickly have to change and shoot with the other. Practicing the Mikan jumping off of one leg, using all four combination of leg-hand finishes will help you get shots off quicker or in a more crafty fashion to avoid a block.

These variations will force you to experiment with the amount and direction of spin you put on the ball. This is something that will take  repetition to master as each different spot and angle will require a unique spin, but eventually you'll be able to make the calculation by just determining where you need to put the ball on the backboard.

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