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How to shoot a finger roll

What is a finger roll

A finger roll is an upgrade version of a lay up - it is executed underhand with a strong forward spin without using the backboard.

What does it take to make a good finger roll

Because you are high in the air with your arms fully extended during a finger roll, You must become accustomed to snapping your wrist and fingers hard without any arm movement.  This movement is very awkward for many players to begin with because we almost always coordinate arms and wrists movements.  Body balance  is also very important to a good finger roll because, like the leaner, you are also initiating contact with the defender.  Maintaining your balance while executing the finger roll correctly is critical to scoring on a finger roll.  Often, the defender may also collide into your shooting arm, Thus you must also have strong arms that can withstand the pressure posed by your defender and maintain a good shooting posture in the air.  Furthermore, to set up a situation which allows you to do the finger roll, you need to have a good drive towards the basketball hoop.  That opens up the space for you to perform the finger roll

Kobe extends his arm for extra horizontal space in the air

When do I use a finger roll

The very first requirement for finger rolls to be used is that you must have gained considerable speed towards the basketball hoop.  Once you have satisfied this first condition and dribbled into the paint, you will have to quickly evaluate the situation.  If you see an open lane right in front of you towards the hoop.  Do not hesitate take it towards the hoop for a simple lay up or a dunk.  If your lane is somewhat blocked by defenders or penetrated by players and your defender gives you at least one step of space to leap forward, you should consider a finger roll. 

A finger roll requires you to put your arms over your opponent when you are in a higher position than your defender is.  Thus,use it if you have stronger and longer arms than your defender while you are not fast enough to blow by him

Pros-n-cons about doing a finger roll



  • Competing for vertical and horizontal space by leaping forward
  • Competes for further horizontal space in the air by fully extending your arm
  • The extended arm brings the basketball closer to the hoop
  • The extended arm increases the chance of drawing a foul
  • The additional forward spin allows the ball the hit the top of the front rim and falls
  • Very hard to block from behind by help defense
  • Requires awkward and tense wrist-finger movement
  • Awkward movement may reduce accuracy
  • Place the basketball right in front may allow defenders in front to block shot
  • Initiating contact with the defender may result in offensive foul or injury
  • Fully extend disallow the option of last minute passing in the air - do or die

General step-by-step guide to shooting a finger roll

If you have the personal offensive skills and physique, this move is an excellent isolation move because it deters any effective help-defense that can interfere with your shot.  While you are in offensive, this move should be used interchangeably with the jump shot or the fade-away.   Mixing them up this way will create more space for your offensive and open up more options.

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