Dribble moves

Just to be clear, that's not your ankles, it's the ankles of the defender as he lurches to try and recover as you speed by him on your way to the basket.


That's what we're trying to do: go past him. You often see players performing a little static dribbling drill in front of their defender. The ball's crossing over, going through the legs, behind the back. All very impressive but a good defender will just stay rooted to the spot because she's not watching the ball; she's watching the middle of the body and until that moves she's not going anywhere.
What we want is to move them one way and then go straight past them on the other side before they get a chance to recover, and that's what these three moves are designed to do.


So we have to move the defender sideways and that means moving our body to prompt that action. With an inexperienced defender, you can move them with just the ball, so a crossover to one side and a quick snap back to the other will leave them off balance and allow you to pass them. For more experienced players, you'll need to make a strong movement with your body whilst staying in control of the ball.
We're beating the defender by a change of direction and a change of speed.


As with all skills, you're going to have to practice these to get them to work. Start slow and get the movements nailed and then repeat them continually looking to increase the speed and efficiency of execution until you can do them without thought.

Set up Crossover

This is the first and simplest move and it involves a crossover with an initial move to the opposite side in order to get the defender moving. These are the key points

  • Make a strong, definite move to one side, don't just drift.
  • Go 'slow to fast' to lull the defender
  • Make the crossover fast, snappy and low
  • Go forwards, past the defender rather than round him

Half Spin

This move fools your defender into thinking you're going to spin from one side to the other. As he repositions you actually complete half a spin and then spin back to the same side and blow past him. These are the key points

  • Make the half spin slow and lei surly and then spin back fast.
  • Perform the move tight into the defender.
  • Keep a low position but an upright upper body in order to keep your centre of mass over your feet. This will make the spin fast and controlled.

Switch back

I don't know if this move has an official name but I've called it the Switch back. it starts as a behind the back crossover but then you pump the ball back to the original side and take off for the hoop as the defender reacts. These are the key points

  • Make the first move slowly and then accelerate as the ball comes back to the original hand
  • As you dribble behind your back move your body as if you're going to follow the ball, turn your head to look the same way.
  • With the other hand reach far round your back to be able to tap the ball straight back. You're aiming to push it forwards not sideways.
  • If you've succeeded in this then you can go straight past your defender rather than going around him.

Practice setup

To get these moves efficient and effective is going to take some repetitions. Here's a suggestion for how you can set up your practice:
Take two chairs and set one of them at the top of the key and the other just behind the free throw line.
Choose a move and then run in and perform it on each chair, finishing with a lay up.
You can mix them up so you go, crossover on the first chair and then half spin on the second. Try and make is as fast an efficient as you can.
Do sets of 10. Don't count it if you lose control of the ball or miss the basket. After 10, shoot two free throws and then do a set of 10 with different moves.

Onwards and Upwards

Click on the resources below to take you to some more information on how to manage and structure your practice and for specific ideas for drills and skills.

Practice theory

Structuring your practice


Free throws

Basic ball skills

Dribble moves