What is a Crossover in Basketball?

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The only legal way for a player to move with the basketball is through dribbling. It is one of the five basic skills in basketball. Being adept at handling the ball is a must, especially in today’s highly versatile style of play. It doesn’t matter what position you play, you need to be good at dribbling. One of the more popular dribbling moves is called the crossover. What is a crossover in basketball?

This article will tackle crossover dribble meaning, why basketball players should master the crossover, and how to defend it. 

What is a Crossover Dribble in Basketball_What is a Crossover Dribble in Basketball?

crossover dribbling technique

The crossover is a dribbling technique to create separation from a defender. It usually involves faking to one side and drawing the defender’s attention before bouncing the ball back to your other hand. This throws the defender off balance and out of position, allowing you to shoot, drive the lane, or pass. The crossover, with enough practice, can be a lethal offensive weapon.

Point guards usually use it when they are trying to dribble down the court under pressure. The crossover dribble is also called an “ankle-breaker” since it could literally make defenders fall if done right.

Richard Kirkland, a.k.a “Pee Wee,” was credited with having invented the modern crossover. Kirkland reportedly pulled the move at Rucker Park in New York City during his heyday. However, some also claim that Oscar Robertson actually first did the crossover back in the 60s. Regardless, the move did not become popular until the 80s and 90s, especially when Tim Hardaway used it frequently in games. Hardaway’s tight, low crossover basketball dribble always left defenders in the dust.

Although any position player on the court can perform a crossover, guards and forwards are more likely to do so due to their ball-handling skills and agility. If a ball-handler can effectively execute the dribble move, it is a wonderful method to use in 1-on-1 situations to dribble by their opponent. One important thing to remember is that when performing a crossover, the ball-handler must keep their hand on top of the ball to avoid being called a carry violation. However, dribbling violations are rarely called in the NBA.

What is a Crossover Dribble in Basketball

Variations of Crossover Dribble in BasketballVariations of Crossover Dribble in Basketball

variations of crossover dribble

They say there are many ways to kill a cat. In the same vein, the crossover dribble has different variations. Here are some of them:

  • Normal or Basic Crossover. A normal crossover has the player quickly changing direction while switching the ball to the opposite hand. This move is primarily based on speed. There is no big fake that you must sell in this crossover; instead, you simply move one direction and use the crossover to make a sudden and unexpected change of direction. Remember, the standard crossover is ultimately about speed.
  • Pound Crossover. The pound crossover is exactly what it sounds– you take one pound dribble, sell that you’re going in one direction, and cross the ball over in another direction.
  • In and Out. In this move, the ball handler fakes a crossover in one direction before returning to his original direction. A variation of this move could include the player performing a normal crossover after a hesitation to make the defensive player’s life more difficult.
  • Hesitation. Otherwise known as the “hesi,” this type of crossover uses timing as a weapon. The offensive player hesitates for a second to freeze the defender and then does a crossover to ruin the defender’s timing.
  • Behind the back Crossover. This variation is the same as the basic crossover but done behind the back of the ballhandler. It’s hard to do and even harder to master, but the ball is less likely to be stolen.
  • Between the Legs Crossover. This is similar to the basic crossover, but instead of a simple left-to-right (or right-to-left) dribbling, the ballhandler puts the ball through the legs.
  • Double Crossover. The double crossover is simply two basic crossovers done in succession. The goal of the double crossover is to confuse and disrupt the defender’s balance rather than to break free. This movement can also be performed between the legs or behind the back. If done right, the double crossover leads to a wide-open jumper.
  • Shammgod. The Shammgod is a fancy crossover where the offensive player bounces the ball forward to a dangerous position on one side of his body, then uses the opposite hand to pull the ball back to the opposite side of his body. It is named after former Mavericks player and streetball legend Shammgod Wells, who made it famous. However, it appears that the first basketball player to consistently do a similar move is Dejan Bodiroga of Serbia.

Benefits of Mastering the Crossover DribbleBenefits of Mastering the Crossover Dribble

mastering the crossover dribble

There is a reason why the crossover dribble is probably the single most popular dribbling move in basketball. It is the easiest way to get by your defender or make him off-balanced. If the defender is not in the proper position, it allows the ballhandler to make a decision. He can either shoot, drive, or pass and put so much pressure on the defense. 

How to Practice Basketball CrossoversHow to Practice Basketball Crossovers

Like every basketball move, the crossover dribble needs a lot of practice. You can’t develop a good crossover overnight, so consistency is the key. Before suggesting a couple of crossover dribble drills, you may try practicing in the most basic way possible. Check out this video:

The best thing about that drill, aside from its simplicity, is that you can practice it without cones and other equipment. If you have a ball, you can fire away and work out by yourself.

Here are two basketball crossover for beginners drills if you want to know how to improve crossover skills in basketball:

Stationary Crossover Drill

Starting with feet approximately shoulder-width apart, take two dribbles with your right hand before crossing over to the left hand. Continue doing this for 30-45 seconds.

For the second repetition, take one dribble with the right hand, crossover, one dribble left hand, and crossover. On the third repetition of the drill, just do crossovers with no dribbles in between.

These fundamental crossover drills should be practiced as frequently as possible. Losing the ball should be the least of your concern. Just continue with this drill until your feel for the ball improves over time.

Straight Line Crossover Drill

Begin with several cones about three feet apart for this drill. If you do not have cones, you may use chairs or anything that acts as a stationary roadblock. 

Dribble the ball in your right hand and go to the first cone, crossing from right to left.

Take a large, quick step with the right leg as you dribble by the cone. The idea is to get the leg between the cone and the ball. Continue on to the next cones, and don’t forget to switch hands each time you start the drill.

How to Beat a Defender Using a CrossoverHow to Beat a Defender Using a Crossover

beat a defender using a crossover

As you execute the crossover, you just don’t expect the defender to fall for it every time. More often than not, high-level defenders either have swift reaction times, or are excellent anticipators. Therefore, the first key in beating a defender using a crossover is to read the defender’s body position. The idea here is to lead the defender to commit or lean in one direction so that you can go the other way. The defender’s momentum won’t allow him to keep up as fast as he wanted.

With all the deception and foolery going on, ballhandling skills are of utmost importance. If the defender knows that your left-hand dribble is not as effective as your right, he’ll just wait for you to come back right to defend your shot. However, if you can use either hand just as effectively, you are much harder to predict and defend.

11 Best Crossover Moves in the NBA11 Best Crossover Moves in the NBA

best crossover movers

1. Allen Iverson crosses Michael Jordan

Iverson’s crossover is shifty but not as tight as his predecessors. The ball hangs in his hand for a long time and he does a shimmy with it. Apparently, Michael Jordan hasn’t seen anything like it before so he wasn’t able to stop AI on this play.

2. Jamal Crawford Cross Everybody

The best thing about Crawford’s crossovers is that he can do three variations in rapid succession. He may do a simple crossover and then counter with a behind-the-back cross just for good measure. And for the record, he may be the only player recorded that can pull off a behind-the-back in-and-out dribble. That’s some nasty stuff!

3. Tim Hardaway’s Killer Crossover

If there is a textbook crossover, it has Tim Hardaway’s name on it. Hardaway’s famous killer crossover is tight and explosive that defenders couldn’t do much against it. As many fans would agree, this is a crossover without any hint of “carrying” or “palming” like what many players do now. He truly was a master of the low crossover basketball dribble.

4. Jason Kidd crosses Ron Harper and Scottie Pippen

Kidd wasn’t really known for fancy dribbling, but he can pull off some crazy stuff every now and then like this play. J-Kidd started by refusing the screen that left Harper in the dust. Pippen helped and tried to cut him off, but he crossed him before making a drop pass for the bucket.

5. Steph Curry snatched Chris Paul’s ankles

Steph Curry is known for cooking people with those crazy handles, but this one he pulled on CP3, no less, must be the most insane. Paul must still be having nightmares after this moment on.

6. Iso Joe made Paul Pierce look silly

Before Paul Pierce and his silly takes on ESPN, it’s this play that made him look like an amateur. Iso Joe completely gave Pierce sauce and then some. The truthful lesson Pierce learned that day was, ”Don’t you ever reach, old-timer.”

7. Kyrie Irving took Brandon Knight’s lunch money

Brandon Knight is on the receiving end of some of the nastiest basketball plays and this is one of them. Irving did Knight dirty on the big sage– NBA All-Star Weekend– by crossing him up and making him fall. As Chris Webber puts it: OH NO!

8. James Harden took Wesley Johnson’s soul

This one is just disrespectful. After James Harden made Wes Johnson sprawl on the floor like a drunk, he just stared him down and made the shot. That’s the kind of play you don’t recover from.

9. Iggy Crosses Quincy Miller

The only negative here is that Iggy did not finish the shot. But it doesn’t matter. The crossover itself is the appetizer and the main course rolled into one. 

10. Jameer Nelson erased Jannero Pargo from the play

Nelson was a pretty underrated point guard back in the day. His pick-and-roll playmaking is excellent, his shooting is respectable, and his ballhandling is effective. In this play, Jannero Pargo found out that sometimes it could be too effective. 

11. Steve Francis toyed with Troy Hudson

The Franchise was a bad man back in the day and although his outside shooting left much to be desired, his athleticism and fancy ballhandling made up for it. Francis actually crossed Hudson like three times before pulling back and baiting him with an up fake. That’s what you call toying with the defender.

Wrapping Things Up: What is a Crossover in Basketball?

crossover in basketball

A crossover in basketball is a dribbling technique when an offensive player moves the ball from one side of their body to the other with only one dribble. More often than not, the ballhandler fakes or sells going one way and goes to the other as quickly as possible so that the defender could not recover. That’s the basic crossover dribble meaning.

The crossover is used to get by a defender in a one-on-one, isolation scenario or under intense defensive pressure.

To effectively become a master of the crossover dribble, it’s important to practice consistently. You may begin with solitary crossover drills and move on to more challenging exercises when you gain skill. 

The key to beating a defender using the crossover is ballhandling. If defenders notice that you dribble better with the right hand than the left, they will simply sit on that side and won’t bite on any fakes you attempt to throw. That is why it’s crucial to develop excellent dribbling skills with both hands so you can go either direction and beat defenders.

To conclude this article based on the question, “What is a crossover in basketball?” it’s not the end of the world if you can’t pull off a mean one like Kyrie Irving or Steph Curry. You can still work on the different aspects of the game and excel. But if you want to become a skilled scorer, then the crossover is a must. There is no other way around it.

We hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, be sure to check out our other basketball FAQ articles here.

You might also be interested in our posts about:

What is a Basketball Foul?

> What is a Slasher in Basketball?

> What is Cherry Picking in Baskeball?

> What is Goaltending in Basketball?

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