Basketball Dribbling Moves

The goal of the dribbler (and the entire team on offense) is to advance the ball towards their basket in order to set up a scoring opportunity. In a perfect world, the dribbler’s path to the hoop would be clear—but the basketball world is far from perfect and just when you thought you were home free, those pesky defenders always rear their heads.

Although opponents do pose an obstacle, skilled dribblers have a few tricks up their sleeves to blow past the defender. Here is a list of five effective “change-of-direction” maneuvers to help you quickly switch directions while dribbling in order to protect the ball. Add these moves to your ball handling repertoire and you’ll be able to neutralize any defender and advance the ball towards the basket.

Hesitation Dribble

The hesitation, or change-of-pace dribble, is probably the easiest technique to execute, but that doesn’t make it any less effective. This move is used to trick a defender into thinking the ball handler is either slowing down or about to end their dribble. Once the defender hesitates or loosens their defensive posture, the dribbler can kick it into high gear to blow past.

Follow the steps below to execute the hesitation dribble:

  1. Make sure you are dribbling at a quick pace and being closely guarded before you begin the hesitation dribble.
  2. When the defender is tightly guarding you, quickly slow down your dribble and almost come to a stop.
  3. Start to straighten your back as if you are looking to pass the ball, but continue to maintain your dribble.
  4. Once the defender loosens or relaxes the position, quickly bend low and take an explosive dribble step to the side and ahead of the defender.
  5. Continue to dribble by the defender while simultaneously protecting the ball with your opposite hand.

Crossover Dribble

The crossover is an explosive change-of-direction move that is often used to maneuver around an opposing player. It can be an effective way to shake a defender, but the crossover dribble does leave the ball unprotected, and it is important to execute the move smoothly so as to not turn the ball over to the defense.

Follow the steps below for the crossover dribble:

  1. Begin to dribble the ball with your strong hand as you advance towards a defender.
  2. When you’re ready to execute the crossover dribble, push off the foot that is on the same side as your dribbling hand.
  3. As you shift your weight from the dribbling side of your body to the opposite side, simultaneously bounce the ball across your body towards the other side of your body.
  4. Keep in mind that the lower you bounce the ball, the quicker the crossover, and the less chance the defense has to steal it during the move.
  5. Take a step with the foot on the receiving side as your receiving hand contacts the ball.
  6. Continue to dribble away from the defender using your opposite hand.

Sell Your Move

The crossover is most effective when the defender buys your initial move. For example, make the defender think you’re slashing to the right by pushing off your back foot and lowering your shoulder. Once the defender moves his feet, quickly change directions and cut back to your left. The crossover is only effective if the defender doesn’t expect a cut-back, so disguise your move and catch the defender off guard.

Between-the-Legs Dribble

The between-the-legs dribble is a type of crossover dribble. The purpose of the maneuver is to shield the ball from a defender while simultaneously changing the direction of your dribble.

Follow the steps below to execute the between-the-legs dribble:

  1. Start with your feet shoulder width apart and your knees bent.
  2. Begin to dribble the ball with your dominant hand.
  3. Maintain your dribble as you take a step forward with the foot opposite your dribbling hand.
  4. Bounce the ball between your legs so it contacts the floor directly beneath your staggered legs.
  5. Catch the ball off the bounce with your non-dominant hand.
  6. Resume your dribble with your non-dominant hand.

Behind-the-Back Dribble

The behind-the-back-dribble is another example of a fantastic change-of-direction maneuver. It is basically the same move as the cross-over dribble, but done behind the back. This move is usually most effective when used against a defender who is over-playing to one side (either the right or left).

Follow the steps below for the behind-the-back dribble for a right-handed player:

  1. With your right hand, dribble the ball in front of your body and towards your right side.
  2. Once you’re close to the defender plant your inside foot and step past the defender with the outside leg.
  3. As you move past the defender, move the ball from the right side of your body to the left by bouncing the ball behind your back.
  4. Resume dribble with the left hand.

Reverse/Spin Dribble

The reverse, or spin dribble, is an explosive move that requires the ball handler to simultaneously spin and dribble the ball. The move can executed in both directions, but the instructions below will be for executing the move while dribbling to right.

Follow the steps below to execute the spin dribble:

  1. Move towards the defender using a low and controlled dribble
  2. As you come into close proximity with the defender, stop forward motion for a split second while continuing to dribble the ball.
  3. Shift the majority of your weight to the foot opposite your dribbling hand. It will become the pivot foot.
  4. Once you have established the pivot foot, pivot approximately 180 degrees clockwise so that your back is now facing the defender.
  5. Remember, that in order to avoid traveling you must continue to dribble. While you pivot switch dribbling hands with a low crossover dribble (your back should be towards the defender).
  6. Finish the move by swinging the leg and shoulder opposite your pivot foot around the defender, thus completing a 360 degree spin (don’t forget to maintain your dribble).
  7. Explode past the defender into the open court.

The Payoff

The moves listed above will create separation between you and the defender. However, mastery requires dedication and practice. It’s a good idea to start slow at first, to get a feel for the move. Once your execution is flawless, start increasing the difficult by performing the maneuver at a faster pace. If you log the practice hours, you’ll be an expert ball handler in no time.

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