The Power Dribble has a few different points of emphasis that should be part of teaching this layer. Among other things, the Power Dribble is a great way to turn an uncomfortable situation into an attacking situation. No matter what it is used for, but these points of emphasis are vital to its proper execution.
Imagine your guard picks up his/her dribble at an inopportune time. The other perimeter players are being heavily denied and your post player comes to the perimeter to relieve the pressure and receive a pass. So what happens now? This probably isn’t a very good shooting opportunity. You may not want your post player attacking the rim off the dribble. This player may not be a very good passer either. Their post player may be coming up to pressure this player as well. You may be saying to yourself, this situation has gone from bad to worse. This is where the power dribble can be helpful. The post player can turn their back to the defense and make a power dribble in the direction of a perimeter player. Normally this would be a dribble at and this player would go back door, but because the player has their back to the basket, the player will start in a backdoor cut and then come back to the ball for a hand off. This dribble hand off can send the perimeter on an attacking dribble with the post player’s defender having to switch out and help on an attacking guard. Now our story has taken a turn for the better don’t you think? The post player can roll to the basket or pop to the perimeter. More importantly, pressure has been relieved and the offense can run freely again.
The dribble must take the ball handler towards their teammate. This helps close the gap and helping the handoff occur more quickly. The dribble must be strong and protected. If the ball handler needs to take more than one dribble that is fine but they must be sure to keep the ball away from the defense.
Setting up the Handoff
The receiver must set up the handoff well in order to maximize the effectiveness of the power dribble. Since this action is similar to a dribble at, the receiver should take a step or two towards the rim just like they would if it actually were a dribble at. Then they should come back to the ball to receive the handoff. If the defensive player doesn’t respect the cut, they should be wide open. If they do, the handoff should be able to be executed simply and cleanly.
The ball hander must allow their teammate to take the ball from them. The ball handler should not try to pass or flick the ball to their teammate. This handoff must be practiced properly to insure a solid transfer even under heavy pressure. If the ball handler doesn’t feel like the handoff can be completed safely, they can take the ball away from the cutter. The ball should be well protected by the ball handler. It should be held close to the body and in a position where only the offense can get to the ball.
After the Handoff
The new ball handler should look to get to the basket on the handoff. Similarly to a ball screen, it is very possible that the ball handler’s defender gets caught up in the handoff. This could leave the ball handler an attack lane or the opportunity to shoot if the defender goes under the handoff. As the handoff is occurring, the other players should be filling spots. However, they should be anticipating that the new ball handler will attack which would mean they would rotate back in the opposite direction.
The player who initiated the power dribble has the freedom to roll to the basket or to pop to the perimeter based on that player’s skill set. The coach may dictate this decision, or the coach may let the player make this decision. Either one can be very effective if it is matched to the player’s skill set.