What is a Double Dribble in Basketball?

what is a double dribble in basketball

Basketball games require dribbling, passing, and shooting the ball to score. Like in the natural flow of activity during a match, violations occur if players don’t follow the rules. One violation that doesn’t often happen in the NBA / WNBA, but more so in other leagues, is a double dribble violation.


So what exactly does a double dribble violation mean in basketball? Here is the complete breakdown of what a double dribble is, when it happens, the controversy of the call with refs, and more!


What is a Double Dribble Violation?

what is a double dribble violation

A double dribble violation is an illegal ball motion that generally involves a player pausing while dribbling and then starting again. Dribbling rules generally suggest that a player can’t stop or hold the ball with two hands to continue dribbling. This is how double dribbling gets its name since there is a first dribble, a pause, and then a second dribble.


The National Basketball Association rule book also states that double dribbling can happen if the ball comes at rest at any time while a player has it. If a player with possession of the ball touches it twice before it touches the floor, they may receive a double dribbling call.


Examples of a Double Dribble During a Basketball Game

examples of a double dribble during a basketball game

Double dribble violations usually occur when a player stops and holds the ball with one or two hands, then resumes dribbling again. This start-and-stop action can happen in a few scenarios. One example is if a player receives a pass, dribbles, stops, and then dribbles again to get around a defensive player.


Another example of a double dribble is during a fake ball moment. For instance, imagine if a player dribbles, then fake a pass attempt to their teammate, and then dribbles again. In that scenario, the player had a stop in dribble, so they can’t resume it again without getting that penalty.


Why is Double Dribbling Illegal in Basketball?

why is double dribble illegal in basketball

Most movement penalties, like traveling, control the game’s flow and encourage ball movement between players. If a player can hold the ball and continue to dribble, it reduces the incentive to pass it to a teammate after surveying the field. Establishing limits on how players can move with the ball encourages more fluid gameplay and frequent passing.


Dribble rules also allow teams to play effective defense, causing a steal or fumbles during passing, resulting in exciting plays. A quick steal via someone dribbling can be a massive momentum shift for one team. Just like in American Football, sometimes a great defense is also a great offense.


What Happens When a Player Double Dribbles?

what happens when a player double dribbles

If a double dribble happens during a game, the defensive team immediately gets control of the ball. However, several leagues have different rules for where a team can receive the ball. For example, in the NCAA, FIBA, and NFHS (the governing body for high school basketball), the defensive team can throw in the ball at the point on the court closest to where the infraction occurred.


Meanwhile, the NBA only allows players to inbound the ball in the middle of the court. After a double dribble infraction, teams with control of the ball cannot inbound the ball between the baseline and the free-throw line. Inbounding at this point would give players immediate access to the net, leading to immediate scoring opportunities.


Similar Penalties in Basketball

This foul is very similar to other illegal dribble violations, like traveling or a carry. The big difference between double dribbles and a carry is that carrying often involves having one hand under the ball. That hand will hold the ball for an extended period while the dribbler is in motion.


Controversy Regarding Double Dribbles in the NBA

controversy regarding double dribbles in the nba

Like many dribbling violations, critics of the NBA find that double dribbles are under-call in games. This under-calling frustrates fans familiar with the rules and can quickly identify these kinds of fouls. Since the definition of double dribble is relatively simple, it’s easy to identify this foul during a basketball game.


Dribbling, carrying, and traveling violations occur more often in FIBA and other basketball governing bodies. That means when NBA players play in games that follow those rules (like in the Olympics), they tend to be called on those penalties more frequently. Some fans use this as to why NBA players from the USA have been struggling recently in international play.


Since the penalty call occurs so infrequently, there’s often not a lot of outside pressure to correct these bad habits. If players want to focus on moving effectively with the ball, they need to prioritize fundamentals and good ball-handling skills.


Conclusion: What is Double Dribbling in Basketball?

Double dribbling is a relatively simple rule in basketball that comes into play when a player dribbles the ball, pauses, and then resumes dribbling again. This foul is similar to other moving fouls like traveling and carrying. However, many fans think that these rules aren’t called frequently enough in the NBA.


Now that you know the rules, you can watch your favorite game and keep an eye out for the trademark features of double dribbling. With luck, You may be able to pick it out before the referee does.


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