What is a Double Dribble in Basketball?

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Today, we are going to help you understand what is a double dribble in basketball. Basketball is a game with many rules, some more complex than others. Double dribble is a very controversial rule that some people don’t understand, but in this article, you will be given all the information you need to recognize a double dribble when you see it.

What is a Double Dribble in BasketballWhat is a Double Dribble in Basketball?

The rule that governs the violation of double dribbling is a pretty simple rule, often times the simplicity of the rule is overlooked by the complexity of understanding it. This violation can happen in one of two ways. 

Firstly, a double dribble occurs when a player dribbling the ball allows it to rest in one or both of their hands and then continues to dribble afterward. 

Secondly, a double dribble also occurs when a player dribbles the ball with both hands at the same time. An important thing to know is what starts a dribble. A dribble starts when a player who has control of the ball bounces, rolls, throws, or taps it against the court and touches it again before another player. 

For example, if you grab a rebound, once you intentionally bounce the ball, it’s considered a dribble. 

Some Basketball Moves That Can Be Mistaken as Double DribbleSome Basketball Moves That Can Be Mistaken as Double Dribble

There are a couple of scenarios that will occur, and some players who don’t understand the rules will think it’s a double dribble. Some of the common things that will occur and be mistaken for a double dribble violation include: 


A fumble happens when a player accidentally unintentionally loses control of the ball. Even if the ball drops or slips from the player’s hands, this is not a double dribble.


If a player tries to gain control of a ball by tapping it away from other players, they are allowed to grab the ball with both hands and then dribble again. This is because tapping the ball away from other players is not a dribble.

Deflecting a pass

When players deflect a pass, and the ball bounces before they grab it, they are allowed to dribble after. This is because deflecting a pass is not considered a dribble, even if the ball bounces.

Throwing against the backboard

Throwing the ball against the backboard and regaining control is not considered a dribble, so a player can dribble the ball after they have caught it.

What Happens If You Double Dribble in BasketballWhat Happens If You Double Dribble in Basketball?

So, yes, double dribbling the ball is a violation, and a call would be made against you by the referee or your friends if you are playing pick-up ball in the park. 

But does it go any deeper than this? Unfortunately, yes, it does. You should learn how to avoid double dribble in basketball because when you commit a double violation, the ball will be awarded to your opponent. You won’t just be giving the ball to your opponent; this means your team would have lost that particular possession, and as a result, you won’t be able to attempt a shot. As you know, the more you score, the more your chances are of winning. 

On the other side of the ball, since your opponents will get a new possession, they can attempt a shot and possibly score. 

Rules of Basketball Double Dribble in Different LeaguesRules of Basketball Double Dribble in Different Leagues

Unlike some rules in basketball that may vary from league to league, double dribbling is constant. Once you cause the ball to rest in one or both of your hands after dribbling and then start to dribble again, it’s a double dribble. Or, if you dribble the ball with both hands at the same time, that is also a double dribble. These rules apply the same wherever you play. 

Double Dribble vs. Travel

The rule for traveling is a bit confusing as it has been reworked a few times over the last decades. If you know what a double dribble is, it will be easy for you to know the difference between double dribbling and traveling. 

For a traveling violation to occur in a basketball game, a player must either move their pivot foot illegally or take more than the allowed number of steps while not dribbling.

The rule for traveling has to do with foot movement, while the rule for double dribbling has to do with hand movements. That’s an easy way to recognize the difference. 

If a violation occurs because of how a player moves their feet, that’s traveling. If a violation occurs because of something a player did with their hands, it could be a double dribble.

Double Dribble vs. Carry

Carrying the ball and double dribbling are both violations and based on how they are done, they can be confused with each other. It does not matter whether you carry or double dribble the ball in the game; the result is the same. They are both violations that will result in the ball getting turned over to the opponent. 

Neither a carry nor a double dribble carries a number limit like fouls, where you are allowed five or six fouls before getting fouled out of a game. You can commit both violations as many times as you want, but the bad thing is your team loses possession. 

Double dribbling and carrying are both committed by incorrect actions with your hands. Carrying or palming the ball occurs when a player dribbling the ball decides to put any part of their hand under the ball and then carry it from one place to another. Additionally, it is also a carry. If you are dribbling the ball, bring it to a pause and then start your dribble again. This last bit is sometimes confused as a double dribble. 

On the other hand, a double dribble occurs when you either dribble the ball with two hands at the same time, or if you dribble the ball, voluntarily stop your dribble and then continue to dribble again.

How to Avoid Committing a Double Dribble_ 5 TipsHow to Avoid Committing a Double Dribble: 5 Tips

There are many reasons why a player may commit a double dribble, and as such, there are many ways to prevent or avoid committing a double dribble. Let’s take a look at them:

1. First off, learn the rules

To be a good basketball player or a good player for any game, you must first learn the rules of the game. If you are committing double dribble because you are not aware of the rule governing double dribble, the first thing you need to do is learn the rules to consciously work towards not committing the violation.

2. Do ball handling/dribbling drills 

Ball handling and dribbling drills will help you improve your dribbling skills and master your control of the basketball while dribbling. When you practice to properly dribble the ball, the number of turnovers you commit will be significantly reduced.

3. Practice dribbling against others

Practicing on your own is totally different from practicing with other people. These are both important types of practices that you need to do to become a successful basketball player. After you have practiced dribbling on your own and have built up enough skill and confidence, you need to start practicing against others. 

You can work out against your coach, trainers, or your peers. These exercises will aim to strengthen the skills you have learned so that you can comfortably dribble in games when opponents are trying to take the ball away from you.

4. Focus while you are playing

Some aspects of basketball or the entire game come naturally to some people, but for others, they need to focus more on what they’re doing to execute it properly. Many double dribble turnovers occur because the player isn’t focusing on what they are doing. Sometimes, we forget that we have already started and finished a dribble, so when we start to dribble again, we commit the turnover.

5. Share the ball and play the game easy

If you find that your opponents are applying on-ball pressure, which puts you in situations that cause double dribbles, you can easily remedy this by moving the ball to another player quickly before you come under this pressure. Remember, basketball is a team sport for many reasons.

Wrapping Things Up: What is a Double Dribble in Basketball?

There you have it. The double dribble rule is a rule that has to do with how you handle the ball with your hands. If you wish to avoid committing a double dribble, do not dribble the ball with both hands, and do not dribble the ball again after you’ve ended your first dribble. Learn the rules of the game and practice so you can improve your skills because committing double dribbles hurts both you and your team.

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

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Hoops Addict

Hoops Addict was created to help basketball fans of all ages learn more about the sport and find the best basketball gear to improve their ability to hoop. He has been a huge basketball fan for decades, watching thousands of basketball games through the years to learn the ins and outs of the game.

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