Basketball moves are used by players to pass by defenders to gain access to the basket, or to get a clean pass to a teammate to score. And if you want to become a great basketball player, working on your dribbling, shooting, and passing skills is crucial.
Arguably the most important aspect of basketball, dribbling is bouncing the ball continuously with one hand at a time without holding the ball. On the offense, it's used to free yourself from congested areas and drive the ball up the court. And dribbling in defense can be an effective stalling tactic when you're being pressed. Dribbling with both hands is key to enable you to move freely in either direction and make it harder for a defensive player to guard you, so it’s a good idea to work on dribbling with your weaker hand in your practice sessions.
Shooting is naturally a very important aspect of the game as you need to outscore your opponent in order for your team to win. Though, shooting in practice is very different to shooting in games, as the opposing team will try and stop you. Improving your shooting will of course benefit your team, but it will also strengthen and ensure your position on the team above other players.
Passing is an important skill in basketball as it’s the quickest and most effective way to get the ball from player to player and move it around the court. A successful team makes strong and accurate passes, and always catches the
ball. The more passes that are made by the offense, the more you will challenge the defense.
So what are the best basketball techniques to improve your skills on the court? Discover the best moves and how you can use them in a game.
New to basketball? Find out what you need to know about getting started with the basics of basketball.
1. Crossover Dribble
The crossover involves bouncing the basketball in front of you from one hand to the other. It’s the easiest basketball move for players to perform, and it’s the first move a player will start practicing when they learn how to dribble as a beginner. It works best when the ball handler looks and acts like they are heading in one direction, before crossing over to the other direction. It’s very efficient when executing a drive - a player can cross over to get around a defender and drive to the basket.
Some of the players famous for their crossover dribble include Jamal Crawford, Allen Iverson, Kyrie Irving, Tim Hardaway, and Stephen Curry.
2. Through the Legs Dribble
The through-the-legs basketball move is similar to the crossover where you bounce the ball from one hand to the other, but this time, you put the ball between your legs. When you pass the ball through your legs, the front leg makes it difficult for an opponent to reach in. It also ensures the ball is further away from the defense.
The coordination and timing required for this move can make it difficult for young players. Though when you learn to stay low and explode out of it, this can be one of the most effective basketball tricks.
3. Behind the Back Dribble
This advanced form of the crossover dribble involves the player bouncing the ball off of the floor behind their feet and catching it with the other hand. The behind-the-back dribble allows players to cross the ball from one hand to the other while protecting it from a defender. The ball is protected by your whole body as you pass it behind you.
One of the key advantages of this basketball move is that the ball can be passed out in front of your opposite hand, allowing for a quick offensive attack. So if a defender lunges in to steal the ball while on the fast break, a quick behind-the-back dribble can help you protect the ball and evade the defender without breaking stride.
4. In-and-Out Dribble
This is a great basketball move for players new to the game. Widely used as a counter move to a crossover, the in-and-out dribble technique is designed to trick the defender into thinking you’re about to perform a regular crossover. It’s most commonly used to get a defender to switch their weight to the wrong leg, opening up a driving lane to attack.
Keeping the basketball in one hand, you use a fake move of the head and shoulders to make it look like you're going in the other direction. You move the ball inside and then back out by changing the position of your hand on the ball and then move forwards in the same direction.
5. Hesitation Dribble
The hesitation dribble is a straight-line move often used to whizz past a defender. The technique involves dribbling with speed, then slowing down for a split-second to make your opponent think you’re going to stop. This can be done by slightly raising your body, looking up to the rim like you’re about to shoot, looking up at a teammate, or a combination.
To stay in a good defensive position, the defender will slow down and, as they lose their momentum, you can push off on your back foot and explode past them. This then gives you the opportunity to attack the basket, or create a shot for a teammate.
6. Spin Move
This is one of the most difficult tricks to learn, but it’s an important skill to learn as it can be a quick and effective weapon to use against your opponents. It involves planting your inside foot and reverse-pivoting around a defender while dragging the basketball with you, and protecting it with your body.
When performing the spin move, it’s important that players keep their hand on top of the basketball. If the hand slips under, you may get stopped for a carrying violation.
This is a move developed in European basketball in which a player, after picking up their dribble, takes a step in one direction, and then quickly takes a second step in a different direction before shooting or passing. The aim is to get the defender moving one way, then quickly stepping back the opposite way to create space. Like any move in basketball, in order to master the euro-step, you must learn each step and practice it over and over again.
Argentinian Manu Ginóbili, who arrived in the NBA from the Italian league, is one of the players credited with bringing the move to the NBA. It has since been widely used by many players, such as James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and Dwyane Wade.
8. Bank Shot
All known as “off the glass”, this is a shot where the basketball bounces off the backboard and into the basket. It’s often used for mid-range jump shots from around a 45° angle and layups.
The purpose of using the backboard is to try and hit it at the right angle to slow the speed of the basketball, and increase the chance of it going through the hoop. NBA players who often used the bank shot are Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant, Scottie Pippen, Elgin Baylor, and Dwyane Wade. Tim Duncan is the NBA leader in bank shots. He took 1,934 bank shots throughout his Hall of Fame career. And second on the list is Dwyane Wade with 754.
When you think of famous moves in basketball league history, you probably think of the fadeaway, perfected by NBA legends Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.
A fadeaway shot is a variation of a set jump shot, in which the shooter leans backwards to take the shot, creating the effect of "fading away" from the defender. This makes it more difficult for the defender to block the shot. Though because of the backwards momentum, the fadeaway will usually have less range than a regular jump shot, which makes it tougher to project the ball over long distances.
10. Hook Shot
The hook shot is one of the most effective inside basketball moves. It’s quite difficult to execute, but when mastered, it can become a near-unstoppable move that gives players an important height advantage inside the paint.
To perform a hook shot, start by positioning your body as if you were going to do a normal jump shot, then pivot your lead foot so it’s parallel to the defender and the hoop. Your body should act as a barrier between the basketball and the defender. The ball is then released towards the basket with your outside hand in a “hook” motion.
The hook shot and variations such as the jump-hook and skyhook are effective because they are very difficult for the defender to block. They create space between the offensive player and the defender, although it is harder to hit the shot with precision. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar became the NBA's all-time leading scorer by using his almost indefensible skyhook. And no other player in the history of the game has come close to developing a shot that is more lethal and more effective in crunch-time situations.
So now you know the best basketball moves to dance round the competition, it’s time to put them into practice at your next session. But the important thing to remember is, don't try to overcomplicate it. Instead, you want to keep your basketball moves simple and effective. Afterall, mastering the basics is key.
Want to know more about the different basketball positions? A Guide to Basketball Positions covers all the different positions and their roles in the game.
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