Important Dribbling Techniques in Basketball

Milan Djordjevich
3 min readJun 2, 2022

James Naismith, a physical educator, invented the game of basketball in 1891. The game became part of the Olympics in 1936. Statista, a consumer data company, says that more than 20 million people in America play basketball each year. Several professional basketball leagues exist around the world. The National Basketball Association (NBA) is the largest league In the United States.

Basketball players must be adept at dribbling, which is keeping the ball in motion while in possession. Players dribble to progress up the court with the ball to try to make a basket.

When Naismith invented basketball, he created 13 rules to guide the game. Dribbling was not among the rules. Players could only throw the ball to their teammates from where they caught it. However, his rules were refined as new ideas on how the game should be played began to come, so dribbling in basketball officially began in 1901. Defenders usually have a hard time guarding players who dribble efficiently and with finesse.

Dribbling has various styles, such as crossover and protection. Players use the crossover to alternate the direction of their bodies or hands. A controlled dribble helps in beating the pressure from defenders. In other words, players employ the crossover to maintain control of the ball when a defender puts pressure on them. Typically, players move the ball across the front of the body while switching their hands to distract the defender’s focus. Afterward, the dribbler aligns the position of their foot with the ball. Doing so may deceive the defender as it appears the player intends to dribble the ball in that path.

A player using the crossover dribble usually shields the ball by moving forward and down the arm nearest the defender. The player then brings a foot in the direction of the free hand while dribbling. As the ball makes contact with the floor close to the other foot, the player maintains a low dribble, keeping it near the body for accuracy and control. After transferring the ball to the other hand, the player increases their pace with the ball moving first and the legs following, deceiving and beating the defender.

Coaches encourage players to adopt the protection dribble when pressured by a defender. This dribble places the body between the defender and the ball. The player dribbling can keep an athletic position and quickly scan for an open teammate to pass the ball.

For the protection dribble, it would be best for one to tilt their body to the side. Such movement makes the body a barrier between the ball and the defender. Afterward, one can dribble the ball close to their back foot (the foot that one does not outstretch). It would help to shield the ball from the defense by using the lead foot (shooting foot) to step across it. Likewise, it would help to keep the arm outstretched above the shooting foot to avert a steal from the defender.

To progress with the ball down the court, players can adopt a lateral movement or “big to bigger footwork.” This means that when they intend to move to the right, they should use their right foot to step first, leading to a balanced position with the second step. Most importantly, when adopting the protection dribble, their feet should stay shoulder-width apart.

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Milan Djordjevich
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