Dribbling is a fundamental skill in the game of basketball and serves as the primary method for a player to move across the court while maintaining possession of the ball. It involves the continuous and controlled bouncing of the ball on the floor with one hand, as the player advances towards their objective, whether it be to score, pass, or create opportunities for their team. Dribbling plays a crucial role in maneuvering past opponents, executing offensive strategies, and dictating the pace of the game.

Mastering the art of dribbling requires a combination of ball control, hand-eye coordination, and spatial awareness, which allows players to execute various dribbling moves and techniques effectively. These moves may include crossovers, behind the back dribbles, and more, all employed with the purpose of evading defenders and maintaining control of the game. Additionally, understanding when and how to dribble efficiently can enhance a player’s overall basketball IQ, making it an essential skill for players looking to excel in the sport.

As a core element of basketball, the importance of dribbling cannot be overstated. Developing a strong foundation in dribbling techniques, along with consistent practice, can significantly elevate a player’s ability to navigate the court and contribute to their team’s success. By honing these skills, players can unlock their full potential and truly immerse themselves in the dynamic and exciting world of basketball.

Understanding Dribbling in Basketball

Dribbling is a fundamental move in basketball that involves bouncing the ball on the floor with one hand while the player moves around the court. This skill allows players to advance the ball down the court, evade defenders, and create scoring opportunities. It’s essential for young basketball players to learn and master dribbling techniques to become successful on the court.

Dribbling Techniques

There are several dribbling techniques that players can use to maintain control of the ball, change direction, and keep defenders at bay. Some of the most common techniques include:

  • Crossover Dribble: This is a quick change of direction by moving the ball from one hand to the other while it’s being dribbled. It helps players get past defenders by shifting their momentum quickly.
  • Through the Legs Dribble: A dribble that goes between the player’s legs, used to protect the ball from being stolen and to create space in tight areas.
  • Behind the Back Dribble: A type of dribble that involves shifting the ball from one hand to the other behind the player’s back. This can be used as a deceptive move to evade defenders.
  • Spin Dribble: The player spins 180 or 360 degrees while dribbling, changing direction and protecting the ball from the opponent.

To improve dribbling skills, players should focus on maintaining a low stance, using their fingertips for control, keeping their head up to see the court, and practicing their moves at varying speeds.

History of Dribbling

Dribbling has been a part of basketball since its inception in 1891. Early rules did not allow players to take more than one step with the ball, necessitating the need for a method to advance it – dribbling was born. As basketball evolved, so did the importance of dribbling, with new techniques and strategies emerging throughout the years. Early dribbling methods often involved “spinning” the ball on one’s fingers or scooping it up and pushing it towards the ground.

It was not until the 1950s and 1960s that players like Bob Cousy and Oscar Robertson introduced a more modern style of dribbling, using quick and deceptive moves to outmaneuver defenders. This evolution continued with legendary players like Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Michael Jordan, who popularized advanced dribbling techniques, turning them into essential components of today’s game. The history of dribbling in basketball showcases how the sport has evolved and how vital this skill is in the world of basketball.

Rules and Violations

Double Dribbling

Double dribbling is a violation that occurs when a player:

  1. Dribbles the basketball, picks up their dribble, and then starts dribbling again.
  2. Touches the basketball with both hands simultaneously while dribbling.

When a double dribble occurs, the opposing team gains possession of the ball at the spot of the violation.


Carrying, also known as “palming,” is another violation in basketball. It happens when a player:

  1. Places their hand under the ball while dribbling.
  2. Holds the ball for an extended period with the hand on the side or under the ball without releasing it for a pass or a shot.

If a carrying violation is called, the possession of the ball is awarded to the opposing team at the spot of the violation.


Traveling is a common basketball violation that takes place when a player:

  1. Moves one or both feet illegally without dribbling the ball.
  2. Takes too many steps (more than two) without dribbling while holding the ball.

To avoid a traveling violation, a player must establish a pivot foot and keep it in contact with the floor until they release a pass or a shot. If a traveling violation is called, the opposing team gains possession of the ball at the spot of the violation.

Dribbling Drills and Skills


The crossover is a fundamental dribbling skill in basketball that helps players change direction quickly and deceive defenders. By practicing this skill, players can maneuver around opponents and maintain control of the ball.

To perform a crossover:

  1. Start by dribbling the ball with your right hand.
  2. As you approach your defender, plant your right foot and bounce the ball low across your body.
  3. Switch to dribbling the ball with your left hand and continue forward.

A drill to practice crossover: Set up a row of cones and practice dribbling around each cone, using a crossover to change direction at each obstacle.


The behind-the-back dribble is a more advanced skill that allows players to protect the ball from defenders and create space for themselves. This skill can be difficult to master, but it can be very effective when used correctly.

To perform a behind-the-back dribble:

  1. Begin by dribbling the ball with your right hand.
  2. As you reach your defender, plant your left foot and wrap your right arm around your back.
  3. Bounce the ball behind you and quickly catch it with your left hand.

A drill to practice behind-the-back dribble: Set up two cones about six feet apart. Dribble toward the first cone, execute a behind-the-back dribble, and then quickly change direction and dribble to the second cone. Repeat this process, alternating hands and directions.


The between-the-legs dribble is another advanced skill that can help players evade defenders and maintain control of the ball. This skill requires good ball handling and footwork to execute effectively.

To perform a between-the-legs dribble:

  1. Start by dribbling the ball with your right hand.
  2. As you near your defender, step forward with your left foot and bounce the ball under your left leg.
  3. Catch the ball with your left hand and continue dribbling.

A drill to practice between-the-legs dribble: Set up a row of cones and practice dribbling through them by executing a between-the-legs dribble as you pass each cone. Work on maintaining control of the ball and building speed as you progress.

Famous Dribblers in Basketball History

Throughout the history of the NBA, there have been many exceptional dribblers who dazzled fans and opponents alike with their extraordinary ball-handling skills. Some even had signature moves named after them, a testament to their influence on the game of basketball.

God Shammgod is one such legendary dribbler, and the move “The Shammgod” was named after him. This impressive move involves throwing the ball out in front of the body and pulling it back with the opposite hand, a technique that many elite NBA dribblers continue to utilize today.

Another extraordinary dribbler is Steve Francis, who displayed phenomenal ball-handling abilities during his time in the NBA. His quick crossover and deceptive moves often left defenders off-balance, earning him a place among the top dribblers in the history of the sport.

In recent years, the NBA has seen a new generation of remarkable dribblers emerge. For instance, Kyrie Irving has become known for his extraordinary dribbling skills, as he glides past defenders with ease and leaves them wondering where he went. His ball-handling abilities coupled with his knack for making clutch shots create a truly mesmerizing playing style.

James Harden is another highly skilled dribbler, incorporating his talent into a highly effective offensive arsenal. The Beard’s step-back three-pointer and signature Eurostep often leave defenders struggling to keep up, making him one of the most challenging players to guard in today’s NBA.

Chris Paul and Stephen Curry are two more examples of extraordinary dribblers. Chris Paul’s expert control and decision-making abilities make him a truly elite point guard, while Stephen Curry’s incredible handles often create enough space to unleash his deadly three-point shot.

This list only scratches the surface of the talented dribblers that have graced the NBA throughout its history. These players have left an indelible mark on the sport, showing fans that with the right skills and finesse, anything is possible on the basketball court.