In basketball what is a double dribble? Unlike traveling violations which can sometimes be difficult to detect, the double dribble is (usually) one of the easier basketball rules for referees to get right.
But what exactly is a double dribble violation in basketball?
And whats the penalty given to a player who commits one?
Let’s take a closer look…
What is a Double Dribble in Basketball?
The double dribble is exactly what the name suggests…
It’s a violation that’s whistled when a player makes a controlled dribble, pauses, and then dribbles the basketball again.
Once a dribble has been “picked up” by a player, it’s illegal for them to dribble again.
This is a call you’ll hardly ever see outside of youth basketball.
For players beyond the introductory level, everyone knows that it’s illegal to dribble, stop, and then resume their dribble.
But it does happen occasionally…
Why Is the Double Dribble Illegal?
So, why is the double dribble in basketball illegal?
In simple terms, it’s unfair to the defense.
A player who has possession of the ball but has yet to use their dribble is dangerous because they have options. They can still shoot, dribble, or pass.
But once the offensive player has “used” their dribble, they’re no longer a threat to drive so the defense can apply more pressure.
Allowing a player to dribble and stop multiple times without passing would make life extra difficult for the defense, and would result in many *star players* hogging the ball for entire possessions.
What’s the Penalty for a Double Dribble?
Like other dribbling violations, committing a double dribble violation results in a turnover.
In lower levels like high school and college, the ball is thrown in on the sideline or baseline, close to where the violation occurred.
The NBA requires the ball to be inbounded between the free throw line and the baseline to give the defense more of an advantage.
Wait… Are Dribbling Rules Actually Enforced?
“They don’t enforce the dribbling rules,” is a common cry from casual basketball fans looking to criticize the NBA.
While it’s true that referees occasionally miss double dribbles, enforcement is much easier than other violations like traveling.
On rare occurrences where a violation is missed, it’s generally because a referee has forgotten the player has dribbled already.
In the fast paced flow of a professional game, it’s only natural to expect this to happen at least once or twice a season.
Teaching Players to Avoid Double Dribbling
For those coaching at the lowest levels, teaching players to avoid double dribbling can be a long + frustrating process.
Young players are especially prone to dribbling to nowhere and picking up the ball with no idea what they plan on doing next.
So if a lane then opens up, who can blame a 6-year-old for getting wide-eyed and starting their dribble again?
In practices and scrimmages, enforce the rule constantly.
The frequent stoppages may be frustrating, but learning to avoid double dribbles is something we should be working on from day #1.
It is a foundational tool to successful basketball.
HISTORY OF THE DOUBLE DRIBBLE RULE
Basketball has evolved significantly since Dr. James Naismith first nailed a peach basket to a 10-foot-high track in 1891. And just like the sport itself, the rules governing it have seen their fair share of tweaks over the decades.
The double dribble rule wasn’t just pulled out of thin air. It was introduced to ensure fairness and maintain a level playing field. This rule prevents players from gaining an unfair advantage by halting the dribble to see the court and then resuming the dribble to maneuver around defenders.
As basketball morphed from a fledgling game to a global sport, the rules including double dribble underwent refinements to adapt to the changing pace and style of play. The essence of the double dribble rule remained, ensuring that players maintain a continuous, unbroken dribble while maneuvering the court.
IMPACT ON THE GAME’S PACE AND FAIRNESS
The enforcement of the double dribble rule has kept the game fast-paced and exciting, minimizing pauses in play and keeping the action going. It’s also a cornerstone in ensuring fairness in the face of competition, making sure no player gets a sneaky edge by bending the dribbling rules.
What is the definition of a Double Dribble?
Once an offensive player picks up his dribble by catching the ball with both hands, he must pass it to a teammate or shoot it. The player cannot begin a second dribble after ending the first. If he dribbles a second time after voluntarily ending the first, he commits a double dribble violation.
What is a Legal Second Dribble?
A player may begin a second dribble if:
- If a player dribbles to shoot, and the shot hits the rim or backboard and he gets it back
- He lost control of the first dribble due to a defender touching the ball
- Another player touched the ball as a result of his own pass or fumble
These violations can happen by a ball handler in the frontcourt and backcourt. This is why many full court presses lead to illegal dribble infractions because the defensive player can catch the dribbler off guard. It should be noted this is a different violation than a palming violation.
What is the penalty for a double dribble in basketball?
According to the FIBA rulebook, if a player begins a second dribble illegally, the referee will call a ‘double dribbling’ violation and that player’s team will lose possession of the ball. The opposing team will gain possession of the ball at the sideline nearest the violation but no closer to the baseline than the foul line extended.
If a double dribble occurs and the player attempts a field goal, it is nullified. Double dribbling, like a shot clock violation, is not a personal foul so it will never result in a free throw or technical foul, only a turnover and an inbounds throw-in for the other team. It should be noted that the penalty is the same in the NCAA. There is no penalty to committing a second violation
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