Before you dribble
Catching the ball
It may seem silly, but a few words need said about catching the ball. You might not realize how often you catch a ball in a basketball game, but it is probably more often than a wide receiver catches passes in football. With that said, everyone should understand the importance of catching the basketball. We do not wish to complicate an instinctive action, but would like to give a few basics.
Always catch with two hands: It may look fancy to catch with one hand, you may even see NBA players do it, but catching with two assures you will always make the catch. Look the ball into your hands. Mistakes are commonly made when a player begins to make a move or take a shot before catching the ball. In this split second they take their eye off the ball, and do not catch it cleanly.
If there is a long pass thrown and you can catch it before it bounces…DO IT: When a ball travels through the air any type of strange spin can develop. When this happens, occasionally the ball hits the ground, and rather than bouncing right up to you like you thought it would. The ball bounces out of bounds or to the other team.
Once you have the ball
Once you have the ball it is important to be a constant threat…In basketball the stance used is commonly referred to as the triple threat position.
Triple Threat Position: For a right-handed player to get into triple threat position the player should hold the ball with both hands close to the body on your right side, it should be around chest height. The elbow should be bent and in toward your body. Feet should be just slightly wider than shoulder width, with knees and waist also slightly bent; to ensure a solid base and great balance. The player should be facing the hoop with eyes up to see teammates and the defense. Once in this position you are a “triple threat” meaning you are ready to shoot, pass, or dribble past a defender at any instant.
Often, players catch the ball and put the ball over their head. DO NOT DO THIS. This encourages the defender to creep closer to you and take away some valuable real estate. It also makes the offensive player less effective and less of a threat.
Pivoting and Footwork
A good defender isn’t going to just let an offensive player stand around with lots of space and good vision to see the hoop and all of your teammates. They will apply pressure to the player with the ball and try to force them to bend to the defense. When a defender applies pressure, the offensive player should remain in the triple threat position and select a pivot foot. For simplicity some coaches teach a “permanent pivot” essentially having a player always pivot on the same foot. Once the pivot foot is selected the offensive player should use ball fakes, body fakes, and jab steps to back the defender off. See the footwork section for additional information