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Basketball Basics: How To Dribble

Mar 17, 2008
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.

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.

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.

This is an important skill in basketball and must be practiced diligently.
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