How to Do a Drop Step in Basketball (5-Step Guide)
The drop step is one of the most basic moves on a basketball court, and should be a staple for any player who wants to score around the basket.
It’s a move that every youth player should be introduced to at the youth level, and every advanced player should fine tune over time - regardless of their position.
Though it is simple, the drop step can still be one of the most effective ways to score around the basket when performed correctly.
What is the Drop Step?
The drop step is an easy-to-learn move that is designed to create an open layup for a player who is trying to score on the block.
At a glance, it appears that the offensive player is merely catching the ball, taking a step towards the basket, and shooting a layup…
But, of course, perfecting the move requires more than that.
How to Execute the Drop Step in 5 Steps
The drop step is the perfect first post move for a young player to learn because it can be taught in very basic steps:
1. Catch the Ball in a Low, Wide Stance
Setting up the perfect drop step begins with fighting for position on the block.
In order to put yourself in a good place to score, this means getting yourself in an athletic position with your defender on your back.
Your arms should be out wide, giving the passer a big target to throw the ball, and also preventing the defender from getting around you to steal the entry pass.
Another goal should be to catch the ball with both feet on the ground.
When using the drop step, you will usually step towards the baseline - but you want your defender to think that you could go either direction.
2. Take a Big Step Towards the Baseline
After catching the ball with both feet on the ground, your top foot becomes your pivot foot when performing the drop step.
With your bottom foot, take a big step towards the baseline.
Ideally, this step will seal your defender on your high side so that you have an open layup.
The quickness and size of this step are crucial to the effectiveness of the drop step.
If that step does not get you past your defender or at least in a better position to finish, then the drop step will be much easier to guard.
3. Square Your Shoulders to the Backboard
After sealing your defender with a big step towards the baseline, that foot becomes your new pivot foot.
Use one power dribble and step through with your top leg and get your shoulders parallel to the backboard.
Depending on how effectively your drop step has worked, it may not always be possible to get your shoulders all the way square with the backboard.
If your defender is still closely defending the move, you’ll want to get as close to square as possible, while also using your body to protect the ball.
4. Jump Off Two Feet
The drop step is a power move.
It starts on two feet, requires strength to execute, and it ends on two feet.
Once you’re squared up to the hoop, jump off both feet with the idea of exploding up at the rim.
This could vary based on age level, but a good goal to set is jumping high enough to slap the backboard while finishing.
5. Use the Backboard for a Power Finish
Even if you were unable to get your shoulders all the way square to the backboard with your drop step, you should have an angle that allows you to use the backboard for a finish.
Some post moves like the hook shot allow for more finesse or the opportunity to aim for a swish instead of using the backboard…
But the drop step should finish with a shot off the glass 99% of the time.
Tips for the Perfect Drop Step
Now that we’ve established the basic steps of performing the drop step, here are a few pointers that can help players perfect the move:
1. Seal Your Defender on the High Side
The drop step is a usually move that takes you toward the baseline, which means it will be more effective if that space is open for you.
It may not be possible in all cases, but sometimes you can set yourself up for the perfect drop step before even catching the ball by using your body to seal the defender on your high shoulder.
2. Check the Middle of the Floor
Since you may not have been able to completely seal your defender before catching the ball, there’s a good chance that he will still be between you and the basket when you catch the ball.
When this happens, you should bring the ball to your chin and then first look to the middle of the floor to see how the defense has reacted to the post touch.
Checking the middle will allow you to see where your own defender is guarding you, and will also be the quickest way to see if a teammate may be open on the opposite block, cutting through the lane, or available for a kick out three point shot.
3. “Sell” That You’re Going Middle
Again, the drop step is designed to take you towards the baseline…
So the more you can convince your defender that you are actually going toward the middle, the more effective the move will be.
Even if your defender is playing straight behind you when you first catch the ball, you can still set up a drop step by making a shoulder fake to the middle.
You could also use an extra dribble to set your defender up in that direction.
4. Change Speeds
Regardless of whether you are able to seal your defender right away or if you have to set him up towards the middle before making your drop step…
One big key to the effectiveness of the move is how quickly it is made.
Setting up for post position can be a slow, physical process -- and setting your defender up should be as well.
Then, once you have slowly convinced him you’re making a move towards the middle, the spin back and step towards the baseline need to be quick in order to create an open layup.
The drop step may be seen as elementary to some higher level players, as it is a basic move that doesn’t include any flash.
However, when used effectively, it’s still a very powerful and effective way to score around the basket.
The goal of any offense is to create easy scoring opportunities, and when the finer details of the drop step are perfected by a player who has a presence around the basket, the drop step has the potential to create the highest percentage shot in the game.