Points of Emphasis (Attack Dribble)

Published by Aram Parunak on

Points of Emphasis (Attack Dribble)

Initiator (Attacker/Ball Handler)
  • Drive to Create Offense
    • At the point that player comes in possession of the ball, they should look at the basket.  Their first question that they have to answer is “Do I shoot?”  This is a question of shot selection which will be addressed in another post.  If the answer to that question is “No”, then they should ask, “Should I drive?” We encourage players to attack the basket as much as possible.  However, this attack is to CREATE OFFENSE. They must make a decision during their drive to pass or shoot.  If they draw a help defender, a teammate is open.  They should look to pass to their open teammate. We want our players to use dribble penetration to enter offense, just like they would use the pass. Just the threat of aggressiveness may be enough to open up a teammate. This doesn’t mean we want to score quickly. We just want our team to constantly be aggressive and search for the best shot on every possession.
  • Proper Footwork on 1 on 1 Moves
    • A player who has the ball and who has not dribbled must practice proper footwork to learn how to beat their defender without dribbling. Jab steps and shot fakes should be practiced with left and right foot pivots. Players may not always be able to catch the ball with their “favorite” pivot foot.  Being able to attack their defender both ways off of both feet without travelling is important.
  • Straight Line Drives
    • Players must learn to attack in straight lines.  Many players try to drive in arcs which means they are driving into help side defenders. This ruins spacing and reduces scoring opportunities. A solid downhill attack will force the help defender to come further off of their player to help and open up more of a passing lane.
  • Passing with Proper Hand
    • Once a player has decided to attack the lane, they must always be ready to deliver a good pass to a receiver.  A good pass is made quickly, crisply, and on target to an open teammate.  In order to maximize, effectiveness of the pass, ball handlers must be comfortable making push passes and bounce passes with both hands.  Any receiver to the left of the ball handler should receive a left handed pass. Any receiver to the right of the ball handler should receive a right handed pass. A right handed pass to the left is slower and more likely to be deflected than a properly thrown left handed pass.  Passing with the proper hand is just as important is dribbling with it.
  • Awareness of Receivers
    • Attackers must always know where receivers are supposed to be on any drive. They must be looking for receivers in their new spots, not in the ones that they were in before they attacked. This is best developed through repetition of Attack Dribble breakdown drills.
  • Trust of Receivers
    • Attackers must also trust that their receivers will get to their spots.  There may be times when attackers may have poor vision of teammates if they are in traffic.  They must be able to trust that their teammate will be in proper position and ready to receive a pass. Proper practice builds that trust.
  • Identification of defensive rotations
    • When a player attacks, defenses are going to help and rotate.  Attackers must recognize these rotations quickly to find open teammates.  These rotations may not be that complicated or difficult to recognize.  However, attackers must be able to recognize who helped and if a player is helping the player who helped.
  • Stopping footwork
    • One of the more underrated skills in the game for a ball handler is their ability to stop with the ball. Coaches may have different ideas on how they want their players to come to stop if they have yet to pass the ball.  This is important to teach so that players do not travel when they pick up their dribble and so they don’t pick up offensive foulls for being out of control.


Reactor (Receiver)

  • Instant Reaction
    • Receivers must react instantly to dribble penetration.  Any delay in their reaction may prevent them from creating enough space away from the defense to be open. This only comes with repetition until the point that the reaction is a habit.
  • Aggressive Movement
    • Receivers must also react aggressively.  Along with their instant reaction, they must move as quickly as possible to get separation early from the defender. The more aggressively they approach their spot, the more time they will have to get their feet set and evaluate their next action.
  • Proper Footwork
    • The footwork for this action is dependent on the coach and the player.  Some coaches may want players sprinting to the spot.  I advocate an aggressive slide so that the receiver never loses sight of the ball and is ready to change direction quickly if necessary.  This also puts them in a more balanced position when they receive the ball to be able to shoot quickly.
  • Proper Placement for Attacker
    • We want receivers to get to their spots.  However, it’s more important that they are open.  There may be times where receivers need to stop short of their spot or go past their spot in order for the attacker to be able get them the ball. Usually, if they are in their spot, they are in decent position. Sometimes, they may need to adjust in order to give the ball handler vision of them.
  • Knees Bent
    • All receivers must have their knees bent at all times.  This is prior to the attack, during the attack and before they receive the ball.  The only way players will be able to act quickly is if they are ready.  The best shooters are ready to shoot before they receive the ball.  The best drivers are ready to drive before they catch the ball. This starts with being in an athletic stance.
  • Hands Ready
    • Receivers must also have ready hands.  Their hands should be out in front of their bodies ready to receive a pass.  This is another small detail that is easily overlooked.  However, it helps players be much more efficient in their movement if their hands are ready to receive the pass.
  • Evaluate Defense for the Next Action
    • Receivers must always evaluate the defense to determine their next action.  Will I shoot, drive or make a fake? How can I beat my defender if the ball comes to me? Have they stopped my teammate in such a way that I need to move to be an outlet? This evaluation is constant. It can’t wait until they receive the pass.  


These points of emphasis are crucial in hammering out the small details of the Attack Dribble. Not all of these points will be able to be emphasized with everyone all the time.  Over time though if players can learn to improve at each of these small things, it will make marked differences in the end.

Aram Parunak

After 18 years of coaching college basketball, Aram wants to use the Hoops College platform to have a greater impact on the game and the players who play it. Allow him to join you on your journey to be the best player with the most options you can possibly have.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.