What is a Carry in Basketball? Basketball 101

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Would you like to know once and for all, what is a carry in basketball? This is a rule that has been in basketball before we all started playing, but some players do not quite understand how it works. There’s nothing wrong with needing some clarification. Basketball, at any level, does have a lot of rules. They may not be difficult to understand, but they are quite numerous.

We know that it is essential to know the rules so that you do not commit turnovers. Everyone does not understand the carry rule, so it does have an element of confusion, especially when we play pick up ball.

We would like to make sure that everyone understands the carry rule so that players all over the world can play without confusion. In today’s article, we are going to cover the rules of carrying in basketball exhaustively.

What Does a Carry Rules Mean in BasketballWhat Does a Carry Rule Mean in Basketball?

At its creation, people played basketball without dribbling, but the sport has since evolved tremendously. Many rules were added to keep players in check, and the carry rule is one of them. This rule is one of the most controversial laws in the game.

So, how does this rule work? For a carry to be called against the player, the player must temporarily rest his hand below the ball, causing it to come to a stop or change its trajectory before dribbling again.

There are some moves in basketball where players commit to this violation and before they execute them. We may not see a lot of carrying violations being called in college and NBA games. This is because some referees believe that these violations will not affect the outcome of the game, or they believe that calling the violations will continuously stop the game and make it boring. Sometimes, it is not easy for referees to catch players committing the violation because of the pace of the game and the angles at which the referees are standing.

Players should be taught how to dribble the ball so that they do not carry it while dribbling. Whenever a carry violation is called, it results in a turnover for the offensive team. Whenever we play at the park, there is always that one guy that does not entirely understand the rule and either calls it in error or performs a lot of carries and complains whenever the call is made against him. Knowledge is power, so the more we educate ourselves and others about this violation, the easier it will be for us to play and have fun.

Is Dribbling the Basketbal High a CarryIs Dribbling the Basketball High a Carry?

Many times, we hear players arguing, or we are caught in arguments regarding high dribbles. When we say high dribbles, we are referring to dribbling the ball above our shoulders or our heads. Frequently players, especially older players, will call a carry when they see us dribbling the ball above our shoulders or heads.

So, is dribbling a ball high a carry? Let us answer this question once and for all. If you dribble the ball with your hand above the ball, meaning your palm is facing down, it does not matter how high you dribble the ball.

Is Dribbling the Basketball High a Carry

A carry is not dependent on the height of the ball, but it depends on the positioning of the dribbler’s hand. The dribbler can dribble the ball sky-high as long as his hand is not below it. A high dribble can only be considered as a carry if the dribbler uses his hand to stop the natural trajectory of the ball momentarily or places is hand below the ball to maintain control. In these scenarios, yes, that will be a carry.

It is not a carry because of the height of the ball, but it is a carry because the dribbler uses his hand to stop the ball. The next time you hear someone calling a carry for a high dribble, take a few minutes out of your day and spread the joy of knowledge.

What are the Moves That May Be Considered a Carry in BasketballWhat are the Moves That May Be Considered a Carry in Basketball?

Some players have a few moves that they love to perform, but sometimes these moves are questionable. As fans, we often see NBA players perform moves that cause us to shout, carry!

Sometimes the referee will blow the whistle for the questionable moves, and other times they do not. Are all the players performing legal moves then, or are the referees just letting them slide. We know that some players, based on their superstar privileges, get away with a lot of violations.

Let’s take a look at some moves that can often be considered to be a carry or can often be actual Carrying of the basketball if they are not performed properly.

Shot fakes

A shot fake occurs when a player is dribbling the ball and tricks the opponent into believing that they are about to take a shot. What this does is get the opponent off balanced just enough for the dribbler to drive past them.

To perform a shot fake, the dribbler will fake the motion of picking up the ball with both hands. If this is not done carefully, the dribbler may end up palming the ball with the dribbling hand, and this is an actual carry violation.

Hesitation dribble AKA the Hezi

A hesitation dribble is another move that is used to fool defenders into believing one thing is about to happen while the dribbler has an entirely different plan. The hesitation move allows for the ball handler to freeze at the defender so that he can dribble by him.

To perform a dribble hesitation move, while on the run, the dribbler slows down his dribble considerably, almost to a complete stop. The dribbler still has control of his dribble, so when the defender freezes, he can go by the defender.


Many crossovers are notoriously known for appearing to be carrying violations. As a matter of fact, some of them are. One of the most controversial crossovers that are often considered to be a carry is the Allen Iverson crossover. A crossover is another tool of misconception used by dribblers. If the dribbler does not execute the crossover efficiently, he may end up palming the ball in an attempt to change its direction.

NBA Players That Carry the Ball A LotNBA Players That Carry the Ball A Lot

If you ask some persons, they will say that carrying the ball now appears to be legal in the NBA. This is because of the frequency of carrying violations that players make. Caring seems to have now become the norm for the majority of the point guards in the league.

This problem is not unique to the NBA; in fact, most leagues in the world now have players carrying the ball a ridiculous amount of times. Why do so many players find it normal to carry the basketball while they dribble? Is it that they aren’t taught how to dribble correctly, or is it that they want to look trendy and flashy with their dribbles?

Whatever the reason for this violation, it appears to become more and more popular. In the NBA, a lot of ball-handlers carry the ball while they dribble. Some notable persons in the NBA do this more than others. Let’s talk about NBA players carrying the ball.

The first person that comes to mind when you speak of carrying in the NBA is Isaiah Thomas. Players and fans alike all complain about Thomas’s way of getting around defenders. Another guard that carries the ball an insane amount of times is Trae Young. Trae Young appears to carry the ball more than he dribbles legally. One question we would like to have answered is, why don’t the referees penalize him more for this violation?

One other player that noticeably carries the ball frequently is James Harden. James Harden appears to have a lot of controversy surrounding the way he dribbles the ball from his often debated step back to is crossovers and shot fakes.

Difference Between Carrying and TravellingDifference Between Carrying and Travelling

A carry may be considered to be a form of traveling by some people. This is it because you may move your pivot after the ball has come to a stop. The real difference between a carry and a travel violation is that a carry violation occurs when a player places their hand below the ball while they dribble.

Difference Between Carrying and Travelling

This motion will cause the ball to come to a pause or change its natural direction. On the other hand, travelling in basketball occurs when a player takes more than the allotted two steps after gathering the ball. Carry rules focus more on the location of the hand while travel rules focus on the movement of the feet.

Difference Between Carry and Double DribbleDifference Between Carry and Double Dribble

A double dribble occurs when a player resumes their dribble after their dribble has been stopped by one or both hands. If a player takes up his dribble and then starts another and dribble sequence, then he can be called for a double dribble violation. This is very similar to what occurs in a carry violation.

A carry violation technically occurs when the hand below the ball stops the ball momentarily, and then the dribbler resumes his dribbling. Technically this is a double dribble. A carry can also occur if the ball did not come to a complete stop, but the player uses his hand to change the natural direction of the ball and carry the ball from point A to point B and then dribbles again.

Hand Signal for CarryingHand Signal for Carrying

To Signal a carry after the whistle is blown, the referee will extend his hand with his palm facing upwards. He then mimics the carry motion by turning is palm downwards. The referee can do this repeatedly to signal to the table officials.

What is the Penalty for Carrying the BasketballWhat is the Penalty for Carrying the Basketball?

As per most violations in the game of basketball, whenever a carry occurs, the result is a turnover. The ball will be awarded to your opponents at a point on the touchline nearest to where the violation occurred. Keep in mind that this only happens if the referee makes the call in the first place.

How Do You Dribble Without Carrying the BallHow Do You Dribble Without Carrying the Ball?

To dribble without carrying the ball seems to be a dying art. If you would like to dribble the ball without being tagged with a carry violation, ensure that you keep your hands to the top of the ball or at the side.

Try to keep your palms facing down as much as possible while you dribble. To dribble properly without carrying the ball may prevent you from easily executing moves such as crossovers and shot fakes. However, with practice, you can master these moves without committing a carry violation.

Wrapping Things Up: What is a Carry in Basketball

A carry is when a player places any part his arm below the plane of the ball and cause the ball to pause from its natural bounce trajectory, or carry it from point A to B and then resumes his dribble.

Until next time ballers, learn to dribble, not to carry.

Did you enjoy this post? If so, check out our other helpful basketball FAQ here

More engaging basketball FAQ posts here:

> What is a Five Second Rule in Basketball?

> What is an Illegal Screen in Basketball?

> What is a Hedge in Basketball?

> What is a Loose Ball Foul?

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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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