3 Point Layup: Is It Allowed In Basketball?

If you’ve ever thought about laying up a three-pointer, then you’re a certified basketball addict.

After all, why not combine the easiest shot with the shot that has the most points in one, right?

But is it even legal?

A 3 point layup attempt is allowed in basketball as long as you took off from outside the three-point line and lay the ball up to the basket. However, this shot is rarely attempted since it’s difficult to do.

Since it’s allowed, why exactly is it so difficult to do? Let’s find out.

Can You Do a 3 Point Layup?

A layup is one of the most efficient and highest-percentage shots in basketball. This is why it is also the first thing players try to master as early as possible.

However, with the emergence of the three-point revolution pioneered by Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors, the three-point attempt slowly became one of the go-to moves of basketball players of all levels.

But this begs the question, why don’t players merge the efficiency of a layup and the added one point by a three-point shot?

Because it only makes sense that a 3 point layup should be better than its two-point counterpart, right?

First, let’s define a three-point attempt. Technically, any shot attempt from outside the three-point line will be considered a three-point shot.

So looking at this rule, if a player takes off from the three-point line to attempt a layup, even if he lands inside the three-point arc, the shot is still considered a three-point shot.

Therefore, technically a 3-point layup is allowed.

However, while this is theoretically a “good” shot because of the marriage between an efficient layup and a three-point shot, players and coaches beg to differ. Here are some reasons why.

Reasons Why 3 Point Layups are Rarely Seen in a Basketball Game

Player doing a between the legs layup

1. It is not efficient

A layup is an efficient shot for any player. A three-point shot attempted by a good shooter is also an efficient shot. However, joining these two shots together starts to be inefficient.

Since you are jumping from a long distance of the three-point line, your body control and aim for the rim becomes harder, and the probability of making the shot becomes lower.

Think about the differences between the two shots. A good three-point shot requires setting the player’s feet towards the basket and squaring up. He also needs to bend his knees and use his non-dominant hand as a guide for the ball.

On the other hand, a good layup requires holding the ball in only one hand and jumping from one foot. So, the layup shot and a three-point jump shot are two very different shots.

2. It is not the best shot in any situation

Shot selection is very crucial in basketball. That is why coaches overemphasize the importance of choosing the right shot by the right person in the right situation.

For example, Stephen Curry (the right person) attempting a three-point shot (the right shot) during a defensive mismatch (the right situation) is always a good shot. However, a three-point line layup is hardly the right shot in any situation because a jump shot is still the best way to shoot a three-point shot.

3. It can easily be blocked

A layup and other variations are one of the best shots a player can attempt to avoid getting blocked, especially when defenders are trying to stop you from behind.

However, a layup shot from the three-point line can easily be defended and blocked if you put the ball in front of you while doing a layup.

4. It can be physically impossible

A variation of a layup shot is a dunk, and it is a fantasy of basketball fans to see a player jump from the three-point line to dunk the ball. However, the laws of physics and the physical limitation of humans wouldn’t allow that.

If you Jump From Behind the 3-point line to Layup, is it 3 points?

Yes. Any shot attempted behind the 3-point line, as long as both his feet are behind the line, is considered a 3-point shot. So, if a player decides to take off from behind the three-point line for a layup will be counted as three points.

Where he lands is also not a problem since regular three-point shooters almost always land inside the three-point arc after the shot attempt.

So, if a player starts jumping from the three-point line to do a layup, it is still three points even if he lands close to the painted area.

Is a Three-Point Dunk Possible?

Basketball player dunking

Many of us want to see a successful three-point dunk without a trampoline. However, the physical limitations of the body and the natural laws of physics wouldn’t allow that.

Imagine these scenarios. We all saw free throw dunks successfully made during Slam Dunk Competitions by Michael Jordan, Julius “Dr. J” Erving, and Zach LaVine. However, some of these shots are mostly made without dribbling the ball. So in a regular basketball game, these free throw dunks would not even count because the players traveled.

Consider the distance difference between the free throw and the three-point line. The standard free throw line distance is 15 feet from the front of the backboard. At the same time, the standard NBA three-point line is 22 feet from the side and 23 feet 9 inches from the center court.

Since a three-point dunk attempt will most likely be from the center because the player must have enough runway to create momentum for the jump, so let us set the distance at 23 feet and 9 inches.

The world record for the long jump is 29 feet, give and take, but the leap requires minimal jump height. However, If you want to dunk the ball, you must also include the height of the rim of 10 feet.

So to dunk from the three-point line, the jump should not only be long, but it also needs to be high. Given these considerations, doing a dunk from the three-point line is physically impossible.


The 3 point layup is one of the shots we love thinking about because it seems to be a good shot to make, given the efficiency of the layup and a three-point jump shot.

However, after providing why players don’t do this and why coaches don’t encourage it,  it should be clear that a 3 point layup is legal and allowed in basketball. Unfortunately, it is inefficient.

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