What is Pivoting in Basketball?

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You’ll be amazed at the superior basketball footwork of the elite NBA players today. A sound footwork makes them well-rounded, solid in offense and defense, a monster off the boards, and exceptional in all facets of the game.

Moreover, pivoting is an integral part of their game. Players who are standing still can use the pivot to maneuver in tight situations and turn adversity into an opportunity.

A player on a pivot has one foot planted on the floor while the non-pivot foot changes direction. Pivoting helps a player get past the defender, create space for scoring opportunities, or dish out to open teammates.

Read on to know more about basketball pivoting.

What Does Pivoting Mean in BasketballWhat Does Pivoting Mean in Basketball?

To pivot, you need one foot planted on the floor, called the pivot foot, and the non-pivot foot is free to move anywhere.

Pivoting is important in basketball, it can confuse the defender when you change directions quickly. A good pivot  can be used in offense and defense.

A player with ball possession can cover any legal space on the court by dribbling the ball with one hand. Once the ball-handler stops his dribble, he is in a stationary position and cannot dribble again, unless the opponent touches and dislodges the ball. When in standing position you can move one foot and the other foot is stationary to protect the ball from a defender’s ambush. Or you can pass or shoot the ball.

Ballhandlers must control their bodyweight, otherwise, they’ll lose balance resulting in turnovers and lost opportunities. When pivoting, your pivot foot should be aligned directly to your fulcrum.

The ball should be released within five seconds, the pivot foot cannot be changed, but you can rotate your pivot foot.

Picking a Pivot Foot

When the ball-handler stops dribbling he has a choice on which foot to pivot, but he cannot change this once the pivot foot is established.

If you caught a ball with both feet on the floor, you can pick your pivot foot. Catching a ball with a foot on the floor, that foot becomes your pivot foot.

When you catch a ball in mid-air and land on both feet, you have the option to choose which foot to use as the pivot. If you landed on one foot, that automatically becomes your pivot foot.

Types of Pivot

There are two types of pivot in basketball depending on how you use your feet.

Forward Pivot

The forward pivot, or outside pivot, is the footwork of an offensive player using his pivot foot in spinning to get near the basket or to get clear of the defensive player. You should have good balance, fast reflexes, and ankle strength to execute this move.

Reverse Pivot

The reverse pivot, or inside pivot, happens when a player moves backwards to face away from the defender. It can be used to assist teammates for open shots or to get the defender off-balance and shoot the ball himself.

3 Benefits of Pivoting in Basketball3 Benefits of Pivoting in Basketball

Solid basketball footwork allows a player to play offense, and defense, and grab rebounds with solid control. Additionally, mastering pivoting is an important aspect of the game and can benefit the player a lot.

Promotes Control

Players frequently have control issues in tight game situations, whether it’s with the ball or their ability to move. Players can’t think straight, and will panic, and make the wrong plays.

Players who are familiar with pivoting can take advantage of the fix. They can maneuver against the defender for a favorable position or buy time to assess the game situation and make the proper move.

Two-way Play

Pivoting can be used as an offensive or defensive weapon.

The player with the ball can use the pivot to get free of the defender and can either shoot or assist teammates. A defender can use his pivot to evade a post-up player and continue to menace his man.

Lays the Groundwork for Progressive Plays

Pivoting is a complex movement; it takes the presence of mind, great anticipation, and fluid body control to execute the maneuver. Mastering the basics of pivoting can lead to more advanced skills.

  • Spinning moves by the ball handler can confuse the defender.
  • Faking with the head and shoulder can lead to openings to receive, pass, or shoot the ball.
  • You can get free under the basket with spin moves.

These series of moves can happen many times in a basketball game. Pivoting effectively will create opportunities to elude the defender, point-making, assist, and other elements of the game.

How to Pivot in BasketballHow to Pivot in Basketball?

Coaches advise right-handed players to use their left foot as their pivot and spin to the right side with their non-pivot foot, and lefties to do the reverse. A smart player uses both feet in practice to prepare for any situation on the court.

Check out these pivot drills to make you unstoppable on the basketball court.

Reverse Pivot Drive

With your back to the basket, spin the ball and catch it with both feet planted on the ground. Use the left foot as your pivot and spin with your right leg to face the basket. Take one dribble and release the ball. Make five attempts, miss two and start over.

Complete another set of drills using the right foot as your pivot and spin with your left foot with the same number of shots.

This video clip will help develop your reverse pivot move.

Post Pivot Drill

Hold the ball in the painted area facing the basket and imagine there are defenders all over.  So what you’ll do is to hold the ball near your chest and your non-pivot foot will be busy moving to the left, right, and backward faking a shot and finding space. Once there’s an opening take the shot. Make five attempts, miss two and start over.

Switch your pivot foot and do the same thing.

Nobody does it better than Kobe Bryant, watch the Black Mamba do his thing in this video.

What are the Rules of Pivoting in BasketballWhat are the Rules of Pivoting in Basketball?

There are rules about pivoting in basketball, violate it and the ball will change hands.

  • You can choose the right or the left foot as your pivot. Once you established your pivot foot it should be locked in, you can rotate around it but you can’t change, or drag it.
  • The pivot foot can be lifted when passing or shooting, be sure that you don’t have the ball when you land.
  • When pivoting off the catch, dribble first before lifting your pivot foot.

How to Improve Your Pivoting in BasketballHow to Improve Your Pivoting in Basketball

An adage that says “ Practice makes Perfect” never fails a determined basketeer. This type of player can do multiple pivots for days. To improve your pivot keep these pointers in mind.

  • Don’t just swing your body, keep your feet busy. Rotate your pivot foot and use your non-pivot foot in all directions.
  • Bend your legs to keep the defender guessing your next move, whether to pass, dribble, or shoot the ball.
  • Use the ball of your pivot foot to rotate. Never use your heels and be caught flat-footed.
  • Keep your eyes on the defenders, someone might be lurking on your blind side and pick the ball.
  • Always protect the ball to keep defenders from ripping through it. Keep the ball low if the defender is tall or their arms touch your back. Place the ball near your stomach if the defender has busy hands waiting to pick the ball on your dribble. Move the ball on the opposite side of your body if the defender applies sticky defense, you can use your elbows to create space.

Wrapping Things Up: What is Pivoting in Basketball?

You’ve heard commentators mention ankle-breaking dribbles, in-your-face dunks, and rainbow shots, but they rarely utter words about a fantastic pivot move. The best NBA teams and NBA players take this fundamental seriously and are skilled in this department.

Basketball pivoting creates opportunities during the game. Players with sound pivoting skills easily adapt to defensive plays and reveals the flaws of their opponent.

Staying on top of the simple pivoting fundamentals makes you more creative on offense, faster on defense, and more efficient in your game. Learning to pivot adds an important skill to your bag and helps you catch more challenging techniques like the spin move.

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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