The Importance of the Back Up Dribble and How It Reduces Turnovers Against Pressure.

How many times have you seen a player dribble up into a trap and...

  • Stop
  • Try to dribble through the trap
  • Throw the ball away

I'm sure you see this quite often and more times than not, the results are not good.

With the player's and coach's goal of advancing the ball, we sometimes forget the old saying, "Sometimes, you need to take 2 steps backwards in order to take 3 steps forward."

Let's go back to the first situation where the player dribbles into the trap. Instead of stopping, the player could take two hard back up dribbles to create space. When space has been created, the player can:

  • Cross the ball over quickly and dribble towards the middle of the court.

  • Explode by the defender up the sideline if it opens up. That's a little more risky, but if you have smart ball handlers, they'll be able to recognize when they can do this.

  • Throw a pass over the trapping defenders. Make sure that the player does not float backwards when throwing the pass. This will result in a soft pass that can result in a turnover.

When performing the back up dribble, the player needs to be:

  • Exploding backwards and covering a lot of ground. If they are not explosive, the defenders will easily be able to recover.

  • Protecting the ball and facing forwards. Do not turn your back to the defenders while dribbling backwards.

There are situations where doing this move would be a bad idea such as when you've just crossed half-court and the back up dribble would result in an over-and-back call, or it's been 8 or 9 seconds and you need to get the ball across half-court before a 10-second violation.

Teach the move by using this drill below:

  • Line your players along the baseline in 3 or 4 lines. Have them dribble to the free throw line, take two hard dribbles backwards, then explode forward with the dribble.

  • Perform this move 4 times down the court. At the free throw line, half-court, opposite free throw line, and the end of the court.

  • After the first line has almost reached half-court, start the next group in line.

  • After that, you can progress to the crossover move.

Tip for first time running through this drill:

Have two players or coaches act as defenders that would trap the dribbler near the sideline. After that, the players will have a better understanding how the situation would present itself and the footwork they would need to use when practicing the dribble without defenders.

Another way to work on the back up dribble would be to line them up across the baseline and have them back up dribble the length of the court as fast as they can.

For a press breaker play, you can reference the Line Press Breaker.

Here's a drill to do it by yourself or with limited space:

How To Develop Your Ball Handling Skills - Step-By-Step Workouts

If you'd like to become a great ball handler, check out the Progressive Ball Handling & Footwork Workouts App.

It provides a step-by-step process with professionally designed videos and workouts. It has over 200 drills and 24 levels of workouts.

Image: download free ebook with 72 of our favorite drills

What do you think? Let us know by leaving your comments, suggestions, and questions...


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Daniel says:
11/14/2021 at 8:58:34 PM

I am new to coaching. My school is short on coaches. So I agreed to help and be the head coach for the 7th and 8th grade middle school B team. My knowledge of basketball is ok at best. Are there any good websites (Videos)to help coaches coach, and teach the game/practice.


Vanessa says:
10/18/2019 at 11:23:29 AM

I joined basketball this year but the coaches never let me play that much what should i do to impress him?

  2 replies  

Jeff Haefner says:
10/19/2019 at 4:23:25 PM

Here are a few tips to impress the coach:


Lauren Schumacher says:
2/22/2020 at 9:18:10 AM

Give it time, show up on time or early, work hard, be aggressive,be positive and respectful. They will see you!


natasia says:
1/25/2017 at 9:18:10 AM

spinmoves work and also keep the ball low not to low tho or u will loose the ball if he trys to get the ball from u back up about 3-5 steps then keep ur opposite hand in front of him so he cant get the ball if u have ur hand out it will be hard for him to get the ball. if u know how to the figure 8 move with a ball (u dribble low and fast inbetween ur legs) then u move to one side towards the basket and then I stop take a breath and then I shoot dosent go in every time but it works 98.7% of the time.(coming from a 15 y/o freshman girl in high school) don''''t worry kid he is just mad bc u got more game than he dose , if he says u foul don''''t listen he just wants the ball.


Tim says:
6/23/2016 at 11:41:05 AM

There is a bully at my school who is the same age as me. I am better than him but he said that I foul when I dribble past him......I need some ankle breaking moves to shut him up... Anything can help

  1 reply  

Lee says:
7/31/2016 at 4:52:07 AM

Hey Tim,if the bully at you're school has a lot of height i would try explosive moves and maybe a spinmove?
If we is light on his feet just try to shake him off and he is coming after you try a sham-god. I don't know if this has helped you. (This is coming from a 12 y/o guard) Anyway's i hope this has helped you.



Mattie J. says:
10/28/2014 at 8:55:16 PM

This is such an awesome website overall. It literally has everything I could ever want; drills, skills, workouts, tips, plays, EVERYTHING. Anyone who has not ordered the ebooks needs to do so, they're really great.


Jeff Haefner says:
4/8/2013 at 7:23:21 AM

This video and PDF shows how we beat the full and half court trap:


GCBC says:
4/7/2013 at 8:21:23 PM

We have a hard time against a 1-2-2 half court Trap. My kids (8th grade boys) always hold the ball too long and tries to dribble through traps. What advice does anyone have on how to beat a 1-2-2 trap?


Cd says:
3/8/2013 at 3:19:42 AM

I have to shit


Ken says:
1/26/2013 at 1:44:22 PM

Ryan -

Sometimes you have to take what the defense gives you... IF the D is so tight and your other players aren't open, that usually means the opening is at the basket.

"Burn" him as you say, and just maybe he will give you a little more space.


Ryan says:
1/25/2013 at 10:48:54 PM

I played a game tonight against a very tight man to man defense. I play point guard and I was struggling with whether or not to run the offense or burn my guy since he was playing so tight. Any tips on this or how to protect the ball better so the offense has time to develop.


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