Exploring the Different Types of Basketball Dribbles

Morgan Wolf

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Exploring the Different Types of Basketball Dribbles

Dribbling is an essential skill in basketball that allows players to maneuver the ball while maintaining their dribbling hand’s control. 

It is a fundamental technique that enables players to move freely on the court, evade defenders, create scoring opportunities, and execute offensive plays. 

In this article, we delve into the world of basketball dribbles and explore the various types of dribbling techniques that players employ to enhance their gameplay. So, get ready to dig deep in the following sections. 

What Are the Dribbles in Basketball?

Dribbling is a fundamental basketball skill that allows players to maintain control of the ball while moving. It involves bouncing the ball off the floor using one hand, while the other hand is used to protect the ball from defenders. 

Dribbling is essential for players to navigate the court, create scoring opportunities, and initiate offensive plays. 

Let’s explore the different aspects and subtypes of dribbling that players utilize to enhance their gameplay.

Purpose and Importance of Dribbling

Purpose and Importance of Dribbling

Dribbling serves several purposes in basketball, including:

Ball Movement

Dribbling enables players to advance the ball up the court, transition from defense to offense, and initiate fast breaks.

Court Navigation

Dribbling allows players to change directions, avoid defenders, and find open passing lanes.

Scoring Opportunities

Effective dribbling can create space for drives to the basket, set up shots, and draw defenders away from teammates.

Mastering the art of dribbling is crucial for players at all positions, as it enhances their overall offensive capabilities and makes them more versatile on the court.

Key Elements of Effective Dribbling

Successful dribbling relies on several key elements that players must master:

Hand-Eye Coordination

Dribbling requires synchronization between the hands and eyes to react quickly to the ball’s movements and make split-second decisions.

Ball Control

Maintaining proper control of the ball is essential. This involves using the fingertips, not the palm, to dribble and exerting the right amount of force to ensure a consistent bounce.

Body Positioning

Players must maintain an athletic stance with knees slightly bent and their bodies low to the ground. This enables better balance, quick changes of direction, and improved control over the ball.

Timing and Rhythm

Dribbling with the right timing and rhythm helps players maintain control, deceive defenders, and execute effective moves.

What Are the Types of Basketball Dribbles?

These dribbling techniques add versatility, creativity, and excitement to the game of basketball, enabling players to elevate their performance and contribute to their team’s success. Check them out below. 

Basic Dribble

Basic Dribble

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The basic dribble, also known as the “controlled dribble” or “power dribble,” is the foundation of all dribbling techniques. 

It is executed by using one hand to bounce the ball off the floor, focusing on maintaining control and keeping the ball close to the player’s body. 

The basic dribble is essential for ball security and enables players to navigate the court while keeping the ball within their reach.

Crossover Dribble

Crossover Dribble

Source: basketballforcoaches.com

The crossover dribble is a versatile technique used to quickly change direction while dribbling. It involves bouncing the ball from one hand to the other in front of the body. 

By crossing the ball over in front of them, players can switch directions and deceive defenders. 

The crossover dribble is particularly effective for creating separation, opening up driving lanes, and setting up scoring opportunities.

Between the Legs Dribble

Between the Legs Dribble

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The between-the-legs dribble is a stylish and effective move where the ball is bounced between the player’s legs. 

It requires coordination and precision to execute smoothly. By employing this dribble, players can create space from defenders, change direction rapidly, and set up scoring opportunities. 

The between-the-legs dribble adds flair to the player’s offensive repertoire and showcases their ball-handling skills.

Behind the Back Dribble

Behind the Back Dribble

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The behind-the-back dribble involves bouncing the ball from one hand to the other behind the player’s back. It is a flashy move that not only captivates spectators but also serves a practical purpose on the court. 

The behind-the-back dribble allows players to evade defenders, create separation, and generate shooting or passing lanes. It requires excellent ball control and spatial awareness to execute effectively.

Spin Dribble

Spin Dribble

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The spin dribble is a dynamic movement where the player spins their body while maintaining control of the ball. It is a powerful technique that enables players to change direction quickly, evade defenders, and penetrate the defense. 

By executing a spin dribble, players can create mismatches, exploit openings in the defense, and navigate through tight spaces. The spin dribble showcases agility, body control, and the ability to deceive opponents.

When Does a Player Need to Dribble in Basketball?

When Does a Player Need to Dribble in Basketball

Dribbling is an essential skill in basketball, but knowing when to dribble is just as crucial as knowing how to dribble. Here are some key situations where a player needs to dribble in basketball:

Advancing the Ball

When a player receives a pass or gains possession of the ball, they must dribble to advance it up the court. 

Dribbling allows the player to move closer to the basket and initiate offensive plays. By dribbling, players can navigate through defenders, create passing angles, and maintain control while on the move.

Avoiding Violations

Dribbling is essential for avoiding violations such as traveling. In basketball, players are allowed to take two steps without dribbling, commonly known as the “gather step” or “gather dribble.” 

However, after those steps, the player must either shoot, pass, or dribble. Dribbling ensures that the player does not exceed the allowed number of steps and helps avoid turnovers due to traveling violations.

Creating Scoring Opportunities

Dribbling is crucial for creating scoring opportunities. Skilled ball handlers can use dribbling techniques such as crossovers, between-the-legs dribbles, and behind-the-back dribbles to deceive defenders, change direction, and create separation for shots or drives to the basket. 

Dribbling allows players to maintain control of the ball while maneuvering around defenders and setting up scoring opportunities for themselves or their teammates.

Breaking Defensive Pressure

When faced with aggressive defensive pressure, dribbling becomes instrumental in breaking free from defenders. 

Skilled dribblers can use their ball-handling abilities to navigate through tight spaces, dribble through traps, and elude defenders attempting to steal the ball. 

Dribbling effectively in these situations can relieve pressure, create passing lanes, and open up opportunities for the offense.

How to Dribble in Basketball Successfully?

To become a proficient dribbler in basketball, players should focus on honing the following key aspects:

Ball Control

Maintaining control of the ball is crucial for successful dribbling. Players should use their fingertips, rather than the palm of their hand, to have better control and feel of the ball. This allows for precise movements and quick adjustments while dribbling. 

Additionally, keeping the ball low to the ground reduces the chances of turnovers and makes it harder for defenders to steal the ball.

Hand Placement

Proper hand placement is essential for effective dribbling. Players should position their hands on top of the ball, using their fingertips to exert control. 

This technique provides a better grip on the ball, allowing for improved dribbling control and maneuverability. 

Avoiding palm contact with the ball ensures that it stays centered and reduces the risk of losing control.


Maintaining good court vision is vital while dribbling. Players should keep their heads up, rather than constantly staring at the ball, to be aware of the surrounding players, defenders, and open teammates. 

This enables them to make accurate passes, identify scoring opportunities, and react swiftly to defensive strategies.

Change of Pace

The ability to change the pace of dribbling is a valuable skill that keeps defenders off balance. By mixing up the speed of dribbles, players can create opportunities to drive past defenders or create open shots. 

Switching between slow, controlled dribbles and quick bursts of speed can create hesitation in defenders and open up scoring chances.

Practice and Repetition

Improving dribbling skills requires consistent practice and repetition. Players should dedicate time to specific dribbling drills that focus on various aspects of ball control, coordination, and agility. 

Regular practice helps develop muscle memory, enhances hand-eye coordination, and builds confidence in dribbling skills.

By paying attention to these key aspects of successful dribbling, players can significantly improve their ball-handling abilities and contribute to their team’s offensive effectiveness.


Can I dribble with both hands in basketball?

Yes, players are allowed to dribble with both hands while moving, but they must always maintain control of the ball. 

Dribbling with both hands provides versatility and makes it harder for defenders to anticipate the player’s next move.

Are there any limits on how long I can dribble the ball?

As long as a player is moving or attempting to make a play, there is no time limit on dribbling the ball. 

However, dribbling excessively without purpose can make the player more susceptible to turnovers and defensive pressure.

Can I start dribbling again after I stop dribbling?

No, once a player stops dribbling, they cannot dribble again unless they pass, shoot, or are blocked by a defender. 

If a player picks up their dribble and then tries to dribble again without a valid reason, it is considered a violation known as a “double dribble.”

What happens if I lose control of the ball while dribbling?

If a player loses control of the ball while dribbling, it is considered a turnover, and the opposing team gains possession.

It is essential to maintain control and protect the ball while dribbling to avoid turnovers and give the opposing team an advantage.

Can I dribble with my non-dominant hand?

Yes, it is important to develop proficiency with both hands to have a versatile dribbling skill set in basketball. 

Dribbling with the non-dominant hand enhances ball-handling abilities, improves coordination, and allows players to maneuver past defenders more effectively. Practicing with both hands is key to becoming a well-rounded player.

Bottom Line

Dribbling is an integral part of basketball, allowing players to maneuver the ball, create scoring opportunities, and maintain possession. 

Mastering different types of dribbles, such as the basic dribble, crossover dribble, between-the-legs dribble, behind-the-back dribble, and spin dribble, can elevate a player’s skill level and effectiveness on the court. 

By understanding when and how to dribble successfully, players can enhance their ball-handling skills and contribute to their team’s success. 

So, lace up your sneakers, practice those dribbles, and unlock new dimensions in your basketball game. Best of luck. 

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Morgan Wolf

Journalist with experience covering the intersection of sports with business. Demonstrated expertise in digital, video and social media content covering major sports including soccer, NBA, NFL, MLB, tennis and Olympic sports. But basketball is his passion. Specialties: expert for sports related content management LinkedIn