May 20, 2024


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The Perfect Basketball Dribble

Dribbling is a very important fundamental of both offensive and defensive basketball. Offensively it is used to advance the ball in the back court, to make a drive-in to the basket, and to free oneself from close or congested defensive areas. Defensively, the dribble has become very effective in stalling tactics, especially when a press is being used. The dribbler may bounce the ball with one or two hands. If he bounces the ball with two hands, he is allowed only one dribble. There is no limit to the number of times he can dribble with one hand. If a player dribbles, stops his dribbling action, and then dribbles again, he is said to have discontinued his dribble.

This is a violation which means loss of ball to the opponent. Palming is another violation which occurs when a player momentarily stops his dribble by turning his wrist and “cupping” the ball. Once a player has dribbled and comes to a stop, he must pass the ball or shoot it. Dribbling can be more of a liability to a team than an asset if not used intelligently. Many players get into the bad habit of bouncing the ball every time they receive a pass. This prevents dribbling by the player who has the ball. He is known to be “dead.” If the player in possession of the ball has not yet dribbled, his guard cannot play him tight because the offensive player can dribble around him. He is known to be “alive.” A “live” player is more of a threat than a “dead” one!

Another dribbling mistake occurs when the dribbler watches the ball. He cannot see what is going on around him. This not only slows down the offense, but prevents the dribbler from knowing when an opponent is approaching or seeing one of his teammates cutting in for a pass close to the basket. The temptation to dribble is strong. A player must learn when to dribble and when not to. Dribbling in closely guarded areas often results in the loss of the ball, or the dribbler being penalized for “charging.” Charging is running into a defensive player. Low dribble is used for control and to keep possession of the ball when closely guarded. High dribble is used for speed. It is used whenever there is a clear path to the basket. Moving the ball down court with passes is faster and more effective than the dribble.

Dribbling is done mostly with the fingers, which are spread, keeping the palm of the hand off the ball. You will notice that the palms of your hand are not used in shooting, passing or dribbling! This enables a player to get that fingertip control which is so important in basketball. The weight of the body is forward and on the balls of the feet. The head is kept up so that the player can see his teammates and opponents. A good dribbler learns to keep his body between the ball and his opponent. This will help protect the ball. Learn to dribble with both your right and left hand. This will enable you to go in either direction. Being able to move freely in either direction makes it tougher on the defensive man guarding you. A smart defensive man can stop a player who goes only in one direction. This is also true in shooting and passing. If you are right-handed, use your left hand during your practice sessions. If you are left-handed, use your right hand. In a short time you will be amazed at the skill which results.

There are various types of dribbles that you can use for different purposes.

Speed: In dribbling for speed, use the high dribble. Bounce the ball a little above the waist. This dribble is used when there is a clear path to the basket. It is also used to bring the ball up court after the opposition has dropped back to defend its basket. Be sure that there are no opponents near you as this dribble can be stolen easily.

Control: The low dribble is used for control and to keep possession of the ball when the dribbler is closely guarded. It is more difficult for the defense to steal a low dribble than a high dribble. Many players are adept in “double-timing” the ball. This is done by speeding up the dribble, while the dribbler stays pretty much in the same place. It helps to protect the ball and also aids in faking the opposition. This dribble is very effective for small players.

Change of pace: The change-of-pace dribble is a change of speed. The smart baseball pitcher uses a “change-of-pace” pitch to throw the batter off stride. The same is true of the change of pace in basketball. The dribble is begun slowly to try to get the guard off stride. When you think you have him in a position to drive by him, increase your speed and drive to the basket. The change-of-pace dribble can also be used by dribbling down the court at top speed, then slowing down to get your man off guard. When you think you have your man off balance, pick up speed and drive around him.

Change-of-direction: The cross-over is a change of direction dribble which requires good footwork and ball handling. You drive hard to the right, trying to get your man to lean in that direction. As your right foot hits the floor, quickly shift

Change of direction dribble: This maneuver requires good footwork and ball handling. Shifting weight to left foot and bouncing ball across the body your weight to the left and shove off on your right foot. At this moment bounce the ball across your body, being careful that your guard does not steal the ball. At the same time swing your left leg over, picking up the dribble with your left hand, keeping your body between the ball and your man. If you have succeeded in gaining a half-step on your man, drive in for the basket! The dribble must be kept low until you have eluded your guard. Once you have learned to go to your left side, reverse the technique to go to your right. Picking up the dribble with the left hand keeping the body between the ball and the man.

Another important aspect of dribbling, especially if you are going at top speed, is knowing how to stop. Many times during a game players are called for taking too many steps after stopping their dribbles. This constitutes a violation and means loss of the ball to the opponents. In order to come to a quick stop you must crouch slightly, so that your body will have a low center of gravity. Keep your “tail” low, knees bent and one foot in front of the other. The front foot should be flat on the floor and the rear foot slightly raised. Stopping in this manner will enable you to control your body.