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  3. Slow Step Finish: The Next Move to Add to Your Bag

Slow Step Finish: The Next Move to Add to Your Bag

ByQueen Ballers Club| December 30, 2023If you buy something from a link on our site, Queen Ballers Club may earn a commission.

Have you ever watched the master hooper Luka Doncic at work (or at play)? He’s a legend at playing with pace to stay in control of the game and get big buckets. The great news is – even at a time when defenders are more elite than ever before – you can do the same thing. That’s why today we’re going to discuss the slow step finish. Separation is the name of the game. So this move is taking over, and it’s pretty simple to add to your bag. Let’s check out what it is, scenarios it’s most helpful in, and how to do it!

What is the slow step finish?

The slow step finish is basically just a change of pace as you approach the basket to finish with a layup, floater, shot, or even an easy hand-off pass. It’s when, rather than continuing the pace you’re at, as you approach the basket, you pause on one of your steps after you’ve picked up the ball (and you can also fake a shot at the same time), before continuing through your finish. Watch Luka do it here:

Why use the slow step finish?

Basically it’s just a creative way to score. This move is all about throwing off your defender. Your defender and the help side defenders will typically assume you’re going to stay at the speed you’re going at, because they have no evidence to prove otherwise. When you take a slow step, your defender will sag off you because they’re still going your previous faster pace or it will freeze the help side. So you’re able to create some separation and space to either get off a shot, or blow by your defender. As NBA trainer Jordan Lawley says, “Slow steps are a must have finishing option for advanced level players who are looking to increase their ability to play-make on drives. From a younger athlete’s development, it’s also phenomenal for building an understanding of pace (pair fast finishes with slow step finishes while training).” Here’s how it can help you score:

  1. Deception and Misdirection:
    • Why: The slow step finish is a deceptive move that involves deliberately slowing down. This change of pace can catch defenders off guard, making it difficult for them to predict the player’s next move.
    • Advantage: By deceiving defenders, players create opportunities for themselves to exploit defensive reactions and find open paths to the basket.
  2. Creating Separation:
    • Why: Slowing down before a quick step allows players to create separation from defenders. This sudden burst of acceleration can catch defenders flat-footed, providing the offensive player with the space needed to take a high-percentage shot.
    • Advantage: Increased separation increases the likelihood of a successful scoring attempt, especially in one-on-one situations or when navigating through traffic.
  3. Controlling the Tempo:
    • Why: The slow step finish gives players control over the tempo of the game. By varying their pace, players dictate the flow of the play and force defenders to react to changes in speed.
    • Advantage: This control over tempo can disrupt defensive strategies, create uncertainty, and make it challenging for defenders to anticipate the offensive player’s actions.

When to use the slow step finish

Just like any move, you don’t always need to use this. The slow step finish is particularly effective for finishing in situations where your primary ball defender is hanging right with you, and/or if a big is coming up to help on defense. Here are some specific scenarios where you might find it useful.

  1. Isolation Plays: When a player finds themselves isolated against a defender, especially in a half-court setting.
  2. Fast Breaks: In a fast-break situation where you’re charging down the court with a defender right ahead or behind you.
  3. Pick-and-Roll Situations: Doing a pick-and-roll where the defender is hedging or attempting to cut off the ball handler.

How to do the slow step finish

Here’s how to effectively use the slow step finish to deceive defenders and control the pace of the game to create scoring opportunities:

  1. Drive towards the basket.
  2. Pick up the ball.
  3. Slow your pace on your step by pausing – play around with how long you pause, try super short and super long.
  4. You can even lift the ball up towards and basket and look up like you’re going to shoot (this can get your defender to jump too, so you can blow by even more easily).
  5. Remember to stay balanced, and keep the ball protected.
  6. Finish your move by taking your shot or passing the ball.

And no, don’t worry, when executed cleanly, it’s not a travel. “A player who catches the ball while he is progressing, or upon completion of a dribble, may take two steps in coming to a stop, passing or shooting the ball.”

Try the slow step finish today

Work on your game today! Go practice the slow step finish. Here are a few quick drills:

  1. Make 5 layups in a row from the right side, each after a different length of pausing on your step. If you miss more than 2 in a row, restart.
  2. Then do the same from the left side.
  3. Then get 5 buckets on each side where you fake a shot during the pause.
  4. If you have a partner, add in light defense for 3 more made shots, each after the slow step.
  5. Then play 1s with the rule that you must use a slow step of some form to score.

Use the slow step in basketball

Now you’re ready to use the slow step. You might also enjoy learning about the pro hop finish.

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