What is a Triple Threat in Basketball?

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Basketball is a game with a lot of complicated and moving parts. Understanding the game boils down to a good grasp, not the whole picture, but of the specific pieces of the puzzle. For example, on the offensive side of basketball, you may hear the word “triple threat” a lot. What is a triple threat in basketball?

Knowing the triple threat is essentially basketball 101. In short, a triple threat in basketball is a position that allows the offensive player to be ready to dribble, pass, or shoot. It is sometimes called the “triple attack,” and it is a fundamental move that should be mastered by every basketball player. 

Why is it Called the Triple Threat in BasketballWhy is it Called the Triple Threat in Basketball?

The triple threat is a position a basketball player does after catching the basketball. It is called “triple threat” because, from that position, the offensive player can do three things: shoot, pass, or dribble. Every time you catch a pass, it is advisable to go to the triple threat directly since it gives you immediate advantages over the defender.

The move is so simple and yet so effective that this should be in every basketball player’s bag of tricks. To get into the position, you should remember four main points:

  • As soon as you caught the ball, make sure it is positioned between your knee and your shoulder. Your elbow should be placed behind the ball.
  • Your off-hand (the left when you’re right-handed and vice versa) should help your strong hand in securing the ball. Aside from added ball security, having two hands on the ball also allows you to change hands quickly on the dribble.
  • Knees bent. Back straight. Eyes forward.
  • Place your weight, not on your heels, but on the ball of your feet. This will give you more explosion and a burst of speed if you decide to drive or dribble past your defender.

What is the Purpose of Triple Threat in BasketballWhat is the Purpose of Triple Threat in Basketball?

The purpose of the triple threat position in basketball is to make the defense guessing on your next move. The element of surprise is essential in basketball because if you’re predictable, the defense will beat you to the spot. If that happens, to an offensive player, it’s pretty much a lost cause.

As noted, the triple threat position allows an offensive player to keep his options open– shoot, pass, or dribble. That decision is not pre-meditated but is based on what the defense is doing or giving. You, as the offensive player, should react depending on what you see in front of you.

For example, if you see the defender backing off, you shoot. If you think you can go one way and beat the other defenders out on the back, you drive. Or you may have to whip the ball and bass if you see one of your opponents open.

From these scenarios, you can readily see that the triple threat position can be a valuable weapon if the offensive player actually is a threat to shoot, drive, or pass. It may not be as effective for one-dimensional players because the defense already knows what they are capable of. Non-shooters, for instance, will simply be left out in the open with no one within six feet.

Does the Triple Threat Really WorkDoes the Triple Threat Really Work?

Does the Triple Threat Really Work

Every world-class offensive player has the triple threat down to a science, so we know it works for that alone. However, while the triple threat should be taught primarily to every perimeter player, it’s also just as important to make decisions quickly off the triple threat.

Most of the time, when coaches teach beginners the triple threat, the players would often just assume the position and linger. That results in idle time, and that just kills and disrupts the flow of the game. While it’s absolutely worth it to teach young kids the triple threat, it’s also important to teach them to quickly initiate a play as soon as receiving the pass. 

Of course, the plays initiated after the catch is up to the system of the coaches. Most coaches have different philosophies on who should receive the first pass, who initiates, and so on, but taking too much time in the triple threat affects the timing of plays. The challenge here is to teach the kids balance, although, with more play and practice, that should improve over time. 

How Do You Master a Good Triple ThreatHow Do You Master a Good Triple Threat?

Becoming proficient on the triple threat will essentially take your offensive game to the next level. But then again, the triple threat should not only be for the sake of doing it, but it serves a purpose. From there, you should also improve how you read defenses, your handle so you can drive, or your shooting, so if defenders back down, you make them pay.

Of course, mastering the triple threat is only one small area of the game. It is also not recommended to automatically retract to the triple threat position every time you catch it. Here are some tips that could help you master the triple threat position:

Be in a position of strength. When a defender is all over you, there is almost no more time to read anything. One of the best triple threat moves you can do if this is the case is to pivot into a comfortable position and allow you to explode into a dribble. Pivoting in basketball is seldom-used now, but it still is a very effective move. Also, when a defender is very aggressive, it’s not advisable to back down since he will only eat up that space.

Sell the move. One variation of the triple threat is taking a jab step. Now, that won’t matter if the one playing triple threat defense does not really believe that you are actually going by him. No matter what you do, sell it like your life depends on it.

Play with different speeds. All the best perimeter scorers can play at a variety of speeds. They can play slow, fast, or fast and then slow. Don’t be a robot and learn to play with different paces to keep defenders on their heels.

Keep your eyes up. The plays happen on the court, not on the ground. Keeping your eyes up allows you to see what’s happening on the floor and capitalize on every mistake the defense makes.

Dribble with a purpose. If you decide to dribble from the triple threat, don’t just for the sake of dribbling. Dribble so you can get separation to make plays, whether that’s to make the defense scramble or an opportunity for you to score.

Helpful Videos Demonstrating the Triple ThreatHelpful Videos Demonstrating the Triple Threat

This video shows the most basic move from the triple threat position– the jab step. It will help create separation from the defender, leaving the offensive player plenty of room to shoot. As we have said before, you need to sell the jab step to make everything possible.

This one is a comprehensive video about triple threat basketball drills. What we really like about this video is how thorough it is and the attention to detail with each step. For example, the first two drills are spinning the ball to yourself and then catching the ball with the left foot first, right foot second to set yourself up for a possible shot.

The content on this video is created by the famous NBA trainer Drew Hanlen himself, so you have to listen to what the guy says. Hanlen shows a variety of triple threat moves, including a couple of tips on how to blow by opponents from the position.

Wrapping Things Up: What is a Triple Threat in Basketball?

The triple threat is one of the most fundamental moves or positions you can do in basketball. This is called the triple threat because you can do three things from this stance– shoot, pass, drive (or dribble). That is where the advantage of the triple threat is; if you are a well-rounded enough as an offensive player, the defender keeps on guessing what you will do next. Ultimately, that’s going to be his demise.

As you can see, the purpose of the triple threat is to create an advantage for yourself. It keeps the defenders on the heels, and with the triple threat, the prerogative is all yours as soon as the defense makes a mistake. The triple threat works for good offensive players, that’s why if you have a hole in your offensive game, work on that to maximize the triple threat.

With that being said, it takes a while to master the triple threat. Of course, you can start with simple defensive reads. But while you’re at it, it’s also essential to train yourself to make these decisions faster. Lingering on the triple threat is boring and disrupts the offensive flow.

To best answer the question, “What is a triple threat in basketball?” we included three videos for visual references. These include the basics of a jab step, how to do blow-bys, and all the triple threat position nuances. With all these resources, there’s no reason you won’t understand and master the triple threat in basketball.

Did you find this helpful? Then also check out other basketball FAQ articles here.

> What is a Steal in Basketball?

> What are the Basic Rules of Basketball?

Hoops Addict
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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