Why Do Basketball Players Dribble Between Their Legs?

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Basketball has evolved so much that positions 1 through 5 are expected to have dribbling or ballhandling skills. Today, fans see guys like Chet Holmgren and Victor Wembanyama doing flashy dribble packages, only seen among guards and wings before. One of the most common ballhandling maneuvers among basketball players is the “between the legs.” Why do basketball players dribble between their legs? Is there a method behind this glorious madness?

What is Between Legs DribbleWhat is Between Legs Dribble?

As the name suggests, a between-the-legs dribble is when a basketball player crosses the ball over from one hand to the other but does the maneuver while bouncing the basketball in the space between their legs. This dribble is difficult to learn at first but will get easier as long as you practice. You’ll improve your timing and coordination through repetition.

It’s a helpful strategy for players to move the ball around the court without being intercepted by opponents as long as they manage to stay in control. Experienced players frequently outmaneuver opponents and generate scoring opportunities by dribbling in different ways, including “between legs dribble” and other ballhandling packages.

What is the Point of Dribbling Between Legs Why Do Players Do ItWhat is the Point of Dribbling Between Legs? Why Do Players Do It?

As mentioned, basketball players dribble between their legs to create opportunities for themselves. Creating space and going in a different direction is more accessible by doing the “between legs dribble.” Defenders are also less likely to poke the ball away because, if they do, they are likely to slap or touch the hands of the ballhandler. Therefore, defenders are likely to get called for fouls if they are tempted to reach in.

Besides the change of direction and ball protection, here are more reasons why basketball players dribble between their legs:

  • In a one-on-one situation, dribbling between the legs confuses defenders, especially if the ballhandler is just as effective going right as he is going left. Because of the unpredictability, this keeps defenders off-balanced and always on their heels.
  • It’s common to use dribbling between the legs to set up a play for others, providing the team with scoring opportunities. Skilled players may combine it with other dribbling maneuvers, fakes, or other crossover variants.
  • Dribbling between the legs shows flair and style. It’s not the most critical part of the game, but visuals and aesthetics are not to be discarded completely. Case in point: Compare the one-handed dribble of Bob Cousy in the 50s and 60s to somebody like Kyrie Irving. The difference in “style” is night and day.

How to Practice Between Legs Dribble in Basketball: 3 DrillsHow to Practice Between Legs Dribble in Basketball: 3 Drills

As mentioned before, knowing how to dribble between the legs in basketball is all about repetition and technique. Both can be practiced through basketball drills.

However, if you’ve literally just picked up a basketball, AKA a newbie, you must master the basics first. For example, be sure to warm up by dynamic stretching, even including the fingers. Then, practice stationery dribbles with both hands, perhaps switching between soft and pound dribbles.

If you got the basics down to pat, then you can proceed to do these three drills:

1. Continuous Dribbling Drill

The continuous dribbling drill is exactly as it sounds. The goal is to work on the between-the-legs dribble and to develop the technique to go along with it.

Here are the things you need to do:

  • Step one leg forward before dribbling. Your hips must be down, and your knees must be in a bent position. Start your dribble by continuously going back and forth for 30 seconds. Pound the ball hard.
  • The shoulders shouldn’t be square facing forward. Rotate your shoulders facing the direction of your forward foot. This way, you can sell the move, like a fake, that you’re going in that direction.
  • Do your best to keep your eyes away from the ball. Your vision should always be forward. This not only looks “cool,” but it’s also very practical. Training your eyes and head always to look downcourt allows you to pass to an open teammate.
  • After 30 seconds, you may switch to the opposite direction, which means the other foot is now your “forward” foot. Repeat the same process.

2. Outside Dribble, Between the Legs Drill

This is the second progression of the between-the-legs dribbling drill in the above video. The whole routine is pretty much like the continuous dribbling drill but with a catch. Instead of going straight between the legs, you must include an outside dribble on your forward food first. Do this drill for 30 seconds and in two different directions.

3. Between The Legs and Step Drill

This drill is the third progression in the video in the second drill. It has elements similar to the first two routines but is more game-like.

Here are the coaching points:

  • You must establish rhythm first by doing three or four pound dribbles. The difference is that you don’t start with one leg in a forward stance.
  • After a couple of dribbles, you snap your leg forward, like a jab step, and synchronize it with your between-the-legs dribble.
  • As mentioned, this drill is handy in a game as you can use the jab-step to sell your first move and then go the other direction for separation.

Benefits and Limitations of Between Legs DribblingBenefits and Limitations of Between Legs Dribbling

The previous sections have already outlined the benefits of dribbling between the legs. In a nutshell, the advantages have something to do with:

  • Creating space by changing direction
  • Ball protection
  • Confusing defenders
  • Setting up teammates
  • “Wow” factor

On the other hand, dribbling between the legs also creates its fair share of disadvantages. Here are the limitations of between-legs dribbling:

  • It’s a turnover waiting to happen. Many basketball players end up dribbling on their foot, attempting to do a “between-the-legs.”
  • Overusing the move makes one predictable. And when you overuse it, it’s a waste of movement.
  • Not all players can pull off a between-the-legs. Only those who put in the work can do it consistently.

In short, there are always two sides to the story. There is no foolproof move in basketball, and that’s the case with the between-legs dribbling. Players should utilize the move sparingly in the context of the game and be aware of its limits. A balanced skill set in dribbling, including a mastery of the fundamentals, is necessary for efficient play on the floor.

Wrapping Things Up: Why Do Basketball Players Dribble Between Their Legs?

Basketball is a beautiful game, and its evolution makes way for showmanship and skills display. Ballhandling, for example, has come a long way. Before, dribbling was just a way to get around the court, but now, it’s meant to set up everything else. At the forefront of the ballhandling revolution is the between the legs dribble.

Why do basketball players dribble between their legs a lot nowadays? For all intents and purposes, it’s a great move. It allows the ballhandler to protect the ball, elude defenders, and get separation for an open shot or pass to a teammate. However, it also has its limitations. If you’re thinking of pulling this move every once in a while, you must dedicate your time to practicing and getting the fundamentals down to pat.

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

> What is Transition Defense and How Do You Build a Great One?

> What are Defensive Fouls in Basketball?

> What is a Double Dribble in Basketball?

> Can You Catch Your Own Airball?

> What is “Small Ball” in the NBA?

> Who Made the Finger Roll Layup Famous?

> How to Play Perimeter Defense in Basketball

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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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