What Ever Happened to the Back-Dribble?

About two weeks ago, I was at an AAU event promoting my new recruiting service for high school student athletes called The Highlight Reel and I was able to catch a few of the basketball games.  Although the skill level was high and the games were exciting, I could not help but notice that something was glaringly absent from every player’s game…the back-dribble.  On countless occasions I saw the guards sprint the basketball up the court (usually the sideline) with a defender chasing on their inside hip.  Instead of changing pace and directions, the players would continue toward the rim and shoot a contested shot.  This begs the question, what ever happened to the back-dribble?  In many of these situations, the guard would have done well to use their back-dribble to change pace thereby creating space between themselves and the defender.  This would have caused the defender to then be off balance and allowed the ball-handler to change directions, attack the rim, and most likely get a better shot at the basket or perhaps an assist.  It is hard to say why the back-dribble has seemed to disappear (this event was not the only time I had witnessed this) but I left that tournament thinking that it was something that needed to be incoroporated into many of my Elite Basketball Training workouts.  One thought is that the player is uncomfortable changing speeds and directions and it is simply easier to push the ball ahead and try to outrun their defender.  Another possibility is that the player has a weak opposite hand and does not want to back-dribble and change directions for fear of having to use that hand.  Either way, the back-dribble is all but lost and needs to make a reappearance.  Below is a simple drill that will allow you to practice using your back-dribble to change speeds and directions.

Categories: Ballhandling / Dribbling  Offensive Moves  
Ages: All Ages  Youth  Middle School  High School+  

Purpose of the Drill:

The purpose of this drill is to allow players to work on creating space while using their back-dribble and then change directions.



  • The player will attack each chair off the dribble, one after the other, at full speed.
  • As they approach the chair, they should use their back-dribble to create space for themselves as the chair represents a defender.
  • They will then change directions with a change of direction move (crossover, between the legs, behind the back, etc.) and attack the rim for a finish.
  • They then repeat the process at each chair.

Points of Emphasis:

  • Attack at full speed. Not doing this, will defeat the purpose of using the back dribble.
  • Push off the front leg in order to create more space for themselves.
  • Work on attacking with both hands.
  • Stay low in the backdribble and attack off the change of direction quickly.
  • Work on finishing at the rim and shooting the jumper off the dribble.
  • You can even incorporate a post player into this drill to allow the guard to drop off a pass to them.

Motivation/Teaching Tips:

  • Use a prescribed number of made shots before moving on to the next chair.

2 responses to “What Ever Happened to the Back-Dribble?”

  1. Jon Mack says:

    When yuo say back dribble, do you mean if your running doen the right side, just quickly dribble the ball by taking an aggressive step backwards and the crossing over?

  2. Rich says:

    Definitely. I just see too many players keep going down the court with their defender on their hip and take a crazy shot. I also work a lot with players using their back-dribble to enter the ball into the offense. So what I would have them do is attack a chair and use their back dribble as they approach it. Then make and entry pass to me and relocate for a jumper. Hope this helps.

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