Basketball moves

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Basketball moves are generally individual actions used by players in basketball to pass by defenders to gain access to the basket or to get a clean pass to a teammate to score a two pointer or three pointer. Michael Jordan performing jab step, pump fake, dribble drive, pump fake and layup in a series.


Dribbling is bouncing the ball continuously with one hand at a time without ever holding the ball. Dribbling is required in order for a player to take steps while possessing the ball.

Crossover dribble

In a crossover dribble, the ball handler changes the ball from one hand to the other using a single dribble. The crossover is a fundamental dribbling technique in basketball used to keep the ball in the hand furthest from the defender (preventing a steal) while maintaining a desired speed and orientation on the court. It is very efficient when executing a drive. Make the crossover, get around your defender, and drive to the basket. A crossover functions best when the ball handler looks and acts like they are headed in one direction, before crossing over to the other direction. This can often be achieved by a simple head fake, or a step in that intended direction.[1]

In and out dribble

An in and out dribble is widely used as a counter move to a crossover, whereby the ball handler fakes the crossover, and pushes the ball back out on the same hand.[1]

Hesitation dribble

In a hesitation dribble, the ball handler pauses before making their next move, often a prelude to another dribbling move. This essentially freezes the defender and keeps them guessing, with regard to your next move.

Between the legs

This is a commonly used variation of the crossover in which the ball-handler bounces the ball off of the floor between his legs and catches it with the other hand on the opposite side of his body. It is used as a safer way to cross over while directly facing a defender, but requires more slowing of forward momentum than the crossover dribble.

Behind the back

This advanced dribbling technique involves dribbling the ball behind the back either once (as a form of crossover) or continuously. Dribbling once or a few times in this way can be effective in a given situation, but doing so for prolonged periods of time brings dangers of losing the ball or a turnover. The advantage of this move is a decreased chance of a steal, as the ball handler can change direction without bringing the ball in front of the defender.[2]


The wraparound is similar to a behind-the-back except; instead of the ball being thrown in a sideways direction and bouncing behind the ballhandler's back, it is swung further around the back and thrown in a forward direction, bouncing on the side or in front of the ballhandler's body. This move is mostly used when a defender lunges toward one side of the ballhandler's body for a steal. The ballhandler would then simply throw the ball around his body and quickly pass his defender.

Different heights dribble

This technique involves dribbling the ball in different heights. This is usually combined with other dribbling techniques to make it more effective. It is mostly effective on players smaller or taller than you but NOT quite on players that has the same height as you. The fundamentals are if you have a smaller opponent, you can lure them by pretending to bring the ball low and then suddenly turning the ball very high. If the opponent is taller, you can lure them by pretending to bring the ball high and suddenly changing its height very low. This dribbling technique can be used if you want to drive past your opponents. If your opponent does not bite on your lure/trap, maintain the height of your dribble, and you can drive through them but with more speed. Note, if you're going to pass or shoot after your dribble, make sure that you will go back to your usual pace to maintain the momentum for your dribbling.

Ankle Break Dribble

A high-level speed dribble that disrupts his opponent's balance and makes them stumble to the ground. This situation occurs when the opponent's center of gravity is on their pivot leg while they're turning. Players' collapsing due to this rarely occurs under normal circumstances.

After the dribble

Euro step

The Euro step (sometimes "Eurostep") is a move developed in European basketball in which a player, after picking up his dribble, takes a step in one direction, and then quickly takes a second step in the other direction before they attempt a layup. It is an attempt to evade at least one defender before attacking the basket.

Šarūnas Marčiulionis, a Lithuanian, is generally credited with bringing the move to the NBA. It was popularized in North America by Manu Ginóbili, an Argentine who arrived in the NBA from the Italian league, and has since been used by many US-born players, such as Dwyane Wade, and James Harden.

Pro Hop

The combination of a euro step and a jump-stop, the pro-hop is a move in which a player picks up their dribble with a synchronized right hand dribble/right foot step, or... a synchronized left hand dribble with left foot step. The player then rips the ball to the opposite side of their body while landing on a jump-stop. The pro hop's ability to split defenders, or throw an opposing defender off rhythm through 'change of direction speed' is a move popularized by Shantay Legans, former point guard for University of California at Berkeley.

Pro-hop Euro step

It is a pro-hop, without landing on a jump stop. Player picks up their dribble with a synchronized right hand dribble/right foot step, or a left hand dribble with left foot step. Player then rips the ball to opposite side of their body (behind the back if skilled), takes two steps, and finishes with a reverse layup.

Power up

The power up is a move in which the player lands on their outside foot then inside foot, and powers up toward the basket. An effective move because of its balance and power resulting from a two-foot gather and take off.


Bounce pass

The bounce pass is a fundamental and very effective passing technique. This pass consists of one player passing the ball to a teammate by bouncing the ball off the floor with great energy. Because the ball will be at ground level as it passes a defender, a successful bounce pass can easily result in a scoring assist because a bounce pass is harder for defenders to intercept. Still, a bounce pass may be intercepted due to its slower speed. Thus, a player must use his best judgment when he decides whether to make such a pass. The move has to be executed perfectly because a bounce pass may be kicked by rapidly shifting players and might be a difficult catch for the intended receiver.

Chest pass

This pass is performed best by stepping towards your target with one foot, then throwing the ball out towards their chest with two hands while turning the hands over, ending with the thumbs pointing down. It is best used in the open court and on the perimeter.

Overhead pass

An overhead pass is another fundamental passing technique. It is used by snapping the ball over the head, like a soccer throw-in. This pass is especially effective in helping to initiate a fast break. After a defensive rebound, a well-thrown overhead, or outlet, pass can allow a breaking offensive player to quickly score without even dribbling by catching the ball near the basket.

Touch pass

A touch pass is an advanced passing technique in which a prior pass or a loose ball is immediately redirected to another player by tipping or slapping the ball. This is the quickest pass in basketball and is therefore very effective when executed correctly.

Baseball pass

The baseball pass or lance pass is a long pass in which the passer throws the ball with one hand, as if it were a baseball or a football. It is infrequently used, mainly to set up last-second plays off a baseline inbounding situation.

Jump pass

A jump pass is a pass performed while the passing player's feet are off the floor. When done intentionally, usually when a teammate gets open during the shot, it can sometimes confuse the defender, causing him to believe that the passer is shooting instead of passing. At times, however, it is done as a result of the player having their shooting lane blocked and often leads to the player turning the ball over to the opposing team. This kind of pass is risky to execute, and the chances of perfectly passing the ball to an open teammate are considerably low, as it leaves the offensive player very vulnerable to turnovers.

Blind pass

Also known as a no-look pass, the blind pass is performed when a player looks in one direction but passes the ball to his target in another direction. Blind passes are risky and infrequently attempted, but when done correctly, they can confuse the defense. The no-look pass has been popularized by players such as Stephen Curry, Pete Maravich, Isiah Thomas, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Jason Kidd, Rajon Rondo, Michael Jordan, John Stockton, Ricky Rubio, and Steve Nash.


Behind-the-back passes are passes dealt to a target behind the passer's back. Usually done to confuse the defender, behind the back passes can either be bounced off the floor or passed directly to a teammate's chest. However, most behind-the-back passes are direct. Earl Monroe was famous for this move. Steve Nash used this move often, and Chris Webber is famed for using this move down in the paint.

Two person game

Give and go

"Give and Go" is an offensive play that involves passing the ball (give) and then running (go) to an open spot to receive the ball back, usually near the basket, for an easy score. This play can be effective when the defender pays too much attention to the ball instead of the player who moves after passing the ball. This is also known as a "One-Two" in street ball.

Dribble pitch - handoff

The dribble pitch or the handoff, is an offensive play, whereby the ball-handler passes to a player (often a bigger player) and runs by him to collect the ball, whilst the big sets a screen.

Pick and roll

"Pick and Roll" is an offensive play in which a player stops to screen (block) a defender for the teammate handling the ball and then slips behind the defender to accept a pass as the handler makes a move towards the basket. In the NBA, John Stockton and Karl Malone of the Utah Jazz are the quintessential pick and roll tandem and used this play to great effect in the 1990s. Steve Nash and Amar'e Stoudemire when playing for the Phoenix Suns proved to be extremely effective at the pick and roll throughout the 2000s. Tony Parker and Tim Duncan of The San Antonio Spurs and Blake Griffin and Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers are currently among the best pick and roll tandems.

From the initial position of the pick and roll maneuver, the player who receives the ball has many different options as to whether he/she passes it, or fakes and then goes for a jump shot. These variations typically include the pick and pop, where by the roll man instead of heading to the basket trails behind and is wide open for a jumper, hence the 'pop', as well as slipping the screen, whereby the defender of the screener attempts to cheat and get ahead of the screener, at which point the screener does not set a screen, but merely slips by, leaving him open as his defender trails behind.


A backdoor play is when a player without the ball gets behind the defense and receives a pass for an easy score. This can be executed if the defenders are unaware of the open space behind them. Also, when a defender strongly commits on defense (e.g. tries to steal or deny a pass), they are vulnerable to a backdoor play.


An alley-oop is an offensive play which involves one teammate lofting the ball up near the rim in anticipation of another teammate jumping up to catch and dunk it. Because this move requires both teammates to know what the other is thinking, the alley-oop is a rare and exciting play. The Los Angeles Clippers, led by point guard Chris Paul, and big men Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan, are known for their spectacular alley-oops. For that, they have earned the name "Lob City" as a result.



A layup is a two-point attempt made by leaping from the ground, releasing the ball with one hand up near the basket, and using one hand to tip the ball over the rim and into the basket (lay-in) or banking it off the backboard and into the basket (lay-up). The motion and one-handed reach distinguish it from a jump shot. The layup is considered the most basic shot in basketball.

An undefended layup is usually a high-percentage shot. The main obstacle is getting near the rim and avoiding blocks by taller defenders who usually stand near the basket. Common layup strategies are to create space, releasing the ball from different spots or using an alternate hand. A player tall enough (or with sufficient leaping ability) to reach over the rim might choose to perform a more spectacular and higher percentage slam dunk (dropping or throwing the ball through the basket from above the rim) instead.

As the game has evolved through the years, so has the layup. Several different versions of the layup are used today. Layups can be broadly categorized into two types: the underarm and the overarm. The underarm layup involves using most of the wrist and the fingers to 'lay' the ball into the basket or off the board. The underarm layup is more commonly known as the finger roll. Notable current NBA players who rely heavily on the underarm finger roll are Mike Bibby and Dwyane Wade.

Finger-rolls today have many forms, including the Around the World which involves a complete circle around the player before the layup and a variety of faking in the approach to the rim. A classic example is a play by former Kings point guard Jason Williams during his time with Sacramento, in which Williams brings the ball behind his back with his right hand, in a fake of a back pass, and then brings it front again with the same hand for the finish (reminiscent of Bob Cousy who pioneered the move).

The other layup is the overhand shot, similar to a jump shot but from considerably closer range. Overhand layups almost always involved the use of the backboard. Players like Scottie Pippen (formerly of Chicago) and Karl Malone (formerly Utah) have used this move to great effect.

In addition, another variation of the lay-up is the wrong-foot layup. Typically, this move can be seen by inexperienced players with poor footwork, however, when done intentionally, a wrong-footed layup can deceive a defender into mistiming his block attempt. In a normal layup, the left foot is used to step off when laying in with the right hand, and vice versa. However, in a wrong-footed layup, the right foot is used to step off when laying in with the right hand. This also helps to shield the defender from reaching across to block the shot; in reaching across however, the defender will likely get called for a defensive foul. Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs relies heavily on the wrong footed layup, largely due to his smaller size and deceptive quickness.

Reverse layup

A reverse layup is a layup that is finished on the opposite side of the court's split-line, than the player began the attack on.

Finger roll

A finger roll is performed when a player shoots the ball with one hand during a layup and then lifts his fingers, rolling the ball into the basket. The rotation produced provides the ball with a soft touch, and the ball will roll around the rim and then drop into the basket. Former San Antonio Spurs guard George "The Iceman" Gervin was known for having one of the best finger rolls in the game along with Lakers center Wilt Chamberlain. Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen are other notable practitioners, while former NBA star Jason Kidd is renowned for his smooth finger rolls as well.

Tear drop

The tear drop, also called a runner or a floater, is usually performed by undersized players (mainly point guards). A player usually starts the layup procedure a good distance away from the basket. The ball is generally released earlier and in a higher arc than the normal layup. The ball should be away before the taller defender has the chance to block it. The purpose of this shooting move is to make the defender miss blocking the ball as the ball is released from the hand one moment sooner than expected. It is so-named because the ball drops down from the high point of the arc like a falling tear drop. Gary Payton of the Seattle SuperSonics and John Stockton of the Utah Jazz during their primes, the former in the mid-to-late 90s and the latter in the early-to-mid 90s were considered to have the best tear drops in the game. Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers, Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs and Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors frequently use the tear drop with great success.[3] Antawn Jamison of the Los Angeles Lakers has one of the most highly effective tear drop shots in the league despite being a power forward. Ben Gordon of the Charlotte Bobcats, Juan Carlos Navarro of FC Barcelona, Steve Nash of the Los Angeles Lakers, Rajon Rondo of the Sacramento Kings, J.J. Barea from the Dallas Mavericks, and Derrick Rose from the Chicago Bulls are currently known for the tear drop move.

Power stop/drive

Power drive is a continuous shooting move in which a player stops dribbling and makes a huge leap forward, while securing the ball in both hands from the dribbling hand, then making a layup. The move is generally used as a layup because the huge movement coming from the leap provides the momentum for the player to jump forward for a layup. The move is a great way to squeeze the player under the basket for a fast layup.

Double clutch

A double clutch is a move associated with a layup or a dunk; it is a change of ball position in mid-air (similar to the "up and under" move, but performed while the player is in the air). It is effectively used by many players.

Bank shot

A bank shot in basketball is a shot that relies on the ball bouncing off the backboard and into the basket. It is frequently used for mid-range jump shots from around a 45° angle and layups. It is not commonly used for long-range shots or shots from the middle or near the baseline. The purpose of using the backboard is to try to hit the backboard at an angle, thus slowing the speed of the ball and increasing its chances of falling into the hoop. Researchers at North Carolina State University found that bank shots may be 20 percent more effective up to a distance of about 12 feet than direct shots.[4] Another term for a bank shot is "off the glass." NBA players known for using the bank shot often are Sam Jones, George Gervin, Tim Duncan, Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki, Scottie Pippen, and Kobe Bryant.

Putback and tip-in

A putback describes a situation where a player secures an offensive rebound, then immediately scores a basket. If the player secures the rebound while in the air, for the shot to be considered a putback, the player can land on the ground before shooting, but cannot dribble before taking the shot. If the player does not secure the rebound but instead taps the ball into the basket, it is considered a tip-in. There is a point where the difference between a putback and a tip-in is subjective (e.g., a one-handed rebound in the air followed by a shot before touching the ground). A putback jam is a spectacular alternative to the tip-in, where the ball is slam-dunked off the rebound in the same motion. Josh Smith and Kenyon Martin are the perfectors of the putback jam. It is also a primary source of scoring for All-Star center Dwight Howard, who led the NBA in dunks in the 2008–2009, 2009–2010 and 2010–2011 seasons.

Triple threat position and related moves

Triple threat is the position when a player facing a defender receives a pass but has not dribbled yet. The offensive player's feet are slightly wider than shoulder width and slightly on the balls of their feet, their knees flexed, with both hands on the basketball in front of them or almost resting on their thigh, presenting the defender with an opponent able to move in any direction. One foot is held as the pivot and the other slightly ahead. From this, the player can choose from three options: to jump-shoot, to dribble (drive) past the defender or to pass it to a teammate. There are also options to get the defender out of their defensive stance by using jab steps and pump fakes.


Pivoting is the act of rotating one's body while keeping the ball of one foot in place on the floor. Most of the player's balance should be on the pivot foot while slightly raising the heel in order to pivot on the ball of the foot. Pivoting can be done with or without the ball as it is an important tool to quickly change direction or orientation to the basket.[5]

Jab step

A jab step, also known as side step, is performed when a player holds onto the ball before dribbling while his non-pivot leg performs a jabbing forward or side motion. This move is used to test defender's defensive weaknesses and stance. A combination of the pump fake, the drive, the shot and the crossover drive can be performed along with the jab step to lure the opponent out of his defense. New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony is well known for taking the jab step, as was 13-year pro Kiki Vandeweghe. When the player does this, the defender falls off from their defensive stance, creating a space between the player and the defender, allowing them to take a quick mid-range jumper, a three-pointer, or a drive "to the lane."

Pump fake

A pump fake (also called a shot fake) is a feigned attempt at a jump shot, restrained before the feet leave the ground. The pump fake is a fundamental move in basketball, used to cause defenders to jump (known in basketball slang as "lifting" the defender) or be shifted off-balance. Its main applications are in the low post area, where a player is much more likely to have his or her shot blocked. On the perimeter, it is useful in creating open lanes to the basket by "showing" the ball enough to entice a defender to attempt to block or steal it, allowing the dribbler to penetrate easily. Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant are known to be masters of the pump fake.

Drawing contact

An offensive move intended to produce a foul call on the defensive player. A typical strategy is to drive into a defensive player whose feet are not stationary. When the two players make bodily contact, a blocking foul can be called on the defensive player. If the defensive player has a set position (i.e., both feet are stationary and arms are not in a downward motion), the contact can result in a charging foul against the offensive player (this is known as taking the charge for the fouled defensive player). Another way of drawing contact is to pump fake and then jump towards the defender, make contact and then shoot; this gets you to the foul line. If you make the basket (often made in the paint), you get the basket and one foul shot.

Posting up

To "post up" is to establish a position in the low post, the area near the basket below the foul line, usually in order to take advantage of a smaller defender. The offensive player usually faces away from the basket, so that his body can protect the ball from the defender. From this position, options such as spinning or backing down the defender to close in to the basket for better scoring opportunities become available.

Up and under

Mason Rocca making a hook shot for Eldo Napoli, 2006

The up and under is a move consisting of two parts: a shot fake (the up) and a step-through (the under). First the player with the ball fakes a shot by thrusting the ball above his head as if to take a shot, then when the defender jumps in an attempt to block the shot, the offensive player steps by him and attempts a clear, unguarded shot.[6]

Generally used by post players, Kevin McHale was considered a master of this move.[7]

Hook shot

The hook shot is one of the most effective inside moves, but it is also quite difficult to execute. A hook shot begins when the player puts his body between the ball and the opponent. He then releases the ball towards the basket with his 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, although it is harder to hit the shot with precision. The advantage the hook shot offers is the space it creates between the offensive player and his defender. This extra space can reduce or eliminate the advantages enjoyed by a taller defender. The hook shot is most often used by post players because it is difficult to make the shot from a distance.[8] Kareem Abdul-Jabbar became the NBA's all-time leading scorer by using his almost indefensible skyhook.

Drop step

Also called a reverse pivot, the drop step is a move in which the player posting up takes a back step on the side of a defender behind him and spins to that side to gain leverage.[9]

Power move

The power move is executed by pivoting towards the basket to seal the defender, then using a two handed power dribble followed by a jump stop to get closer to the basket. Immediately after the jump stop the player jumps up for a power shot or jump hook.[10]

Spin and drive

When the offensive player receives the ball in the low post, the player either fakes in one direction and then spins in the opposite direction, or immediately after catching the ball, the player spins around the defender and goes up for the shot or takes one hard dribble and then takes the shot.[11] Low Post Spin Move on YouTube

Sikma move

Named after Jack Sikma, the post player receives the ball with their back to the basket and keeps the ball at forehead level. The post then pivots to face the basket while bringing the ball overhead (almost behind the head) to shoot a jump shot. The ball is released high over the head making it difficult for the defense to block.[12] Sikma Move on YouTube

Dream shake

Named after Hakeem "The Dream" Olajuwon, this move is executed when a post player dribbles alongside the baseline and with one hand under the ball fakes a layup, then pivots to the outside for a jump hook. If the defender recovers and jumps at the hook shot, the post player can pump fake the hook and step through for the unguarded layup (similar to the up and under move).[13] Hakeem Olajuwon Dream Shake on YouTube


Pull up jumper

A pull-up jumper is an offensive move, where the ball handler in the act of dribbling, 'pulls up' to shoot the basketball. This is especially effective as the defender is not able to react in time to affect or block the shot. This move is widely used by players in the NBA, such as Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder, and LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Turnaround jump shot

When a player posts up, in order to shoot he has to turn around to face the basket. This can be done by turning in the air, timing the jump shot when the defender is not likely to jump and challenge the shot. Though a fade-away version of this move was perfected by Larry Bird and Dirk Nowitzki, players such as Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Kevin Garnett are also well known for it.


A fadeaway shot is a variation on a set jump shot in which the shooter attempts his shot leaning backward, creating the effect of "fading away" from his defender. This makes it more difficult for the defender to contest the shot. The fadeaway usually has less range than a regular jump shot, because the ball has backwards momentum due to its inertia, making it somewhat tougher to project the ball over long distances. Michael Jordan, Reggie Miller, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki, Karl Malone, and Steve Nash are famous for their use of the fadeaway. Wilt Chamberlain was criticized for his frequent use of the fadeaway jumper, since the follow-through usually carries the shooter away from the basket and out of rebounding position.

Step-Back Jump Shot

The shooter takes a quick jab step away from the goal and takes a normal jump shot. Stephen Curry is famous for his step-back jumper.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Gandolfi, Giorgio. NBA Coaches Playbook: Techniques, Tactics, and Teaching Points., p. 29. Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL. ISBN 9780736063555.
  2. Gandolfi, Giorgio. NBA Coaches Playbook: Techniques, Tactics, and Teaching Points., p. 29-30. Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL. ISBN 9780736063555.
  3. Cacciola, Scott. "With Hop and Flick, Little Guys Get Upper Hand", New York Times, May 8, 2013. Retrieved December 18, 2014.
  4. Kulikowski, Mick (March 10, 2011). "The physics of bank shots". Archived from the original on March 28, 2011. Retrieved March 12, 2011. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Krause, Jerry V., Jerry Meyer, and Don Meyer. Basketball Skills & Drills: Third Edition, p. 9. Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL. ISBN 9780736067072.
  6. Gandolfi, Giorgio. NBA Coaches Playbook: Techniques, Tactics, and Teaching Points., p. 45. Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL. ISBN 9780736063555.
  7. Thorpe, David. Scouting breakdown: The game's best post players,, accessed March 29, 2007.
  8. Gandolfi, Giorgio. NBA Coaches Playbook: Techniques, Tactics, and Teaching Points., p. 44-45. Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL. ISBN 9780736063555.
  9. Gandolfi, Giorgio. NBA Coaches Playbook: Techniques, Tactics, and Teaching Points., p. 42-44. Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL. ISBN 9780736063555.
  10. Krause, Jerry V., Jerry Meyer, and Don Meyer. Basketball Skills & Drills: Third Edition, p. 140. Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL. ISBN 9780736067072.
  11. Gandolfi, Giorgio. NBA Coaches Playbook: Techniques, Tactics, and Teaching Points., p. 47. Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL. ISBN 9780736063555.
  12. Gandolfi, Giorgio. NBA Coaches Playbook: Techniques, Tactics, and Teaching Points., p. 48. Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL. ISBN 9780736063555.
  13. Bobb, Maurice. "SLAM 147: Hall of Famer and low-post wizard Hakeem Olajuwon is happy to share his knowledge with today's stars". SLAM Online. Retrieved March 18, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>