1-on-1 Basketball Moves

Create more open shots with a series of basic 1-on-1 basketball moves that should be a regular part of your basketball training.

basketball moves

Master these basic offensive moves and incorporate into your game, and you'll become unstoppable!

Below you'll find some keys to help you become a better ball handling and create more scoring opportunities. You'll learn how to read your defender and respond accordingly to attack whatever weakness he shows you.

Then, you'll learn some fundamental basketball moves that will help you work on your timing, footwork, ball control, and ball fakes.

Even though basketball is a team game, there are many times during the game when it's necessary for players to put the ball on the floor to drive to the bucket, open up a shot, or find a passing lane.

Have the ball in your hands is fun, but it can seem overwhelming and paralyzing at times...especially for beginners.

Once you catch the ball, you have 5 seconds to decide what to do.

That's really plenty of time to make a good decision, but it takes a lot of practice to be able to look the court over quickly and assess your situation:

Should you put the ball on the floor?

Can you recognize a good shot?

Should you pass to an open teammate?

Can you use a screen?

If you'll keep your head up and protect the ball in the triple threat position, you'll be ready to react with the appropriate play.

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Once you determine the best play is to put the ball on the floor, there are some one-on-one offensive principles and basketball moves you need to know.

Basketball Moves

Before you can select which basketball moves you want to use, there are a few general rules you need to follow EVERY time your hands touch the ball.

Jump Stop

Try to meet every pass with a jump stop. When the pass is coming your way, jump toward it off of one foot, catch it in the air, and land on both feet at the same time.

This jump is not meant to be a high jump or a long jump; it's more of a step-hop. The point is to catch the ball and land without establishing a pivot foot.

If both feet hit the floor at the same time, you can choose which foot to pivot off of based on what your defender gives you. You have more offensive options if you are able to drive either way.

If your feet hit at different times, the foot that hits the floor first has to be your pivot foot.

Square Up

As you jump stop, try to pivot your hips while in the air so you land with your feet, hips, and shoulders squared up to the basket. From this position, you are ready to immediately shoot the ball if you're open.

Being able to land squared up out of a jump stop is a more advanced skill that young players probably won't master.

For beginners, focus on jump stopping to catch the ball, and then squaring up to the basket once they receive it. Keep in mind that once they square up, they will have established a pivot foot, and they'll need to use that same pivot for any offensive move they want to make.

Triple Threat

Every time you catch the ball, you should hold it in what's known as the "triple threat" position. It's called triple threat because from this position, the offensive player can shoot, pass, or dribble. It's hard to guard a player who has so many available options.

triple threat

For a right-handed shooter, the ball should be held on the right side of the body in line with the right eye, with the arms resting comfortably so the ball is just under chest height.

The hands should be positioned on the ball in shooting position with the right wrist slightly cocked, and the right elbow tucked in at the side of the body.

For a left-handed shooter, the ball would be positioned on the left side of the body.

The ball handler should already be squared up to the basket, so she can see what is open on the floor. She is ready to shoot, drive, or pass depending on what the defense gives her.

Read Your Defender

Before you can make any offensive basketball moves, you need to recognize how your defender is playing you.

Here are 6 general rules to help you decide what you should do depending on your defender’s position.

When your defender...

  1. jumps in the air...You drive to the basket
  2. stands straight-legged...You drive to the basket
  3. lunges at the ball...You drive to the basket
  4. backs off of you...You take the perimeter jump shot
  5. moves in the direction of your jab fake...You drive in the opposite direction
  6. moves in the direction of your pass fake...You pass in the opposite direction

Attack Your Defender's Front Foot

Better Basketball

A defensive player guarding the ball usually has one foot slightly ahead of the other one. Your job as the ball handler is to attack his front foot because he is most vulnerable on that side.

It takes him a lot longer to stop a dribbler traveling past his lead foot because he has to pivot his body before he can move to stop the ball.

And you don't even necessarily have to look down at his feet. All you need to do is take a look at his hands. In a normal defensive stance, the hand that is up will be on the same side as his front foot. So, just attack the side of his upper hand.

Use Fakes

To be effective, most good basketball moves require fakes of some kind. Fakes do wonders at getting defenders off balance and out of position. But, for them to work, they have to be realistic.

You have to be convincing and "sell" the fake.

There are all kinds of fakes: Ball fakes, shot fakes, foot fakes, head and shoulder fakes, eye fakes, and pass fakes.

Here are some basketball tips for making good fakes:

  • Move the ball quickly – When making pass fakes and shot fakes, the movement of the ball must be quick to get your defender to react.
  • Jab short and quick – Your jab step needs to be quick and short. If the move is too slow, the defender has no trouble getting back into position. If the step is too long, it takes the ball handler too much time to pull the jab foot back before shooting or driving.
  • Be convincing with your arm movements – For pass fakes, make quick forceful passing motions with your arms. Remember, you have to make your defender believe you actually intend to pass the ball.
  • Use your eyes – When making a pass fake, look in the same direction as the fake. The eyes are great decoys. Defenders that watch your eyes can easily be suckered.
  • Step into your defender - When using foot fakes, your jab step should be into your defender as much as possible. By stepping toward your defender, you force her back on her heels, which gets her off balance.
  • Stay low – There are very few times (if any) in a basketball game when you should stand with straight legs. On jab fakes, stay low so you can drive quickly past your defender. And on shot fakes, after you've pumped the ball, stay down low with your knees bent. From this position, you can draw the foul, be ready to drive when your defender goes up in the air, or go up for the shot when he’s on his way back down.


Direct Drive

Any time you have a wide-open line to the basket, you should drive straight toward the goal. If someone jumps to stop you, you’ll have an open pass to a teammate; otherwise, take it all the way.

Carmelo Anthony

Push hard off your pivot food and take a long quick step. Try to cover as much ground as possible with your first couple of dribbles.

When you're on the right side of the basket, dribble with your right hand. When you're on the left side, go in hard with your left hand.

Open drives to the basket are nice, but most of the time, you'll have to put together a combination of basketball moves to create scoring opportunities.

Here are some basic, yet very effective one-on-one basketball moves that should be incorporated into your basketball training drills.

Jab & Go Series

  1. Jab R --> long step R --> drive R 3 dribbles --> jump shot
  2. Jab R --> long step R --> drive R to basket --> lay-up
  3. Jab L --> long step L --> drive L 3 dribbles --> jump shot
  4. Jab L --> long step L --> drive L to basket --> lay-up

Make a quick, short jab step with the right foot, no longer than about 12 inches. Bring the foot back in quickly. Immediately, lengthen the step with the right foot, take 3 dribbles to the right, and pull up for the jump shot. Repeat for the layup.

Repeat on the left side for the jump shot and lay-up.

1-on-1 Wing Moves

When practicing these basketball moves against a defender, jab step at your defender's top foot.

If he doesn't react to your jab step, immediately push off your pivot foot and take a long step right past him. This long step is called a power step.

Once you get your foot even with the defender's foot or your head and shoulders past your defender, drive past him.

Jab, Shot Fake, & Go Series

  1. Jab R --> shot fake –-> drive R 3 dribbles –-> jump shot
  2. Jab R --> shot fake --> drive R to basket --> lay-up
  3. Jab L --> shot fake --> drive L 3 dribbles --> jump shot
  4. Jab L --> shot fake --> drive L to basket --> lay-up

Jab step – Make a quick, short jab step with the right foot, no longer than about 12 inches. Bring the foot back in quickly for the shot fake.

Shot fake - The shot fake should be a quick pump of the shoulders to bring the ball up just above the forehead.

Drive - Take 3 hard dribbles to the right and pull up for the jump shot.

Repeat these steps for the lay-up.

Repeat on the left-hand side for the jump shot and lay-up.

When practicing these basketball moves against a defender, make sure your jab step attacks the defender's front foot. On the shot fake, try to get the defender to straighten up or leave the floor, so you can go by her on the drive.

Jab & Crossover Series

Here's a chance to combine your jab step with some basketball crossover moves.

  1. Jab R --> crossover to the L --> drive L 3 dribbles --> jump shot
  2. Jab R --> crossover to the L --> drive L to the basket --> lay-up
  3. Jab L --> crossover to the R --> drive R 3 dribbles --> jump shot
  4. Jab L --> crossover to the R --> drive R to the basket --> lay-up

Make a quick, short jab step with your right foot to the right. Pull your jab foot back to the starting triple threat position and cross it over to the left side, while putting the ball on the floor with the left hand.

Take 3 quick dribbles to the left, and pull up for the jump shot. Your left foot should be the pivot foot the whole time.

Repeat for the lay-up.

Repeat on the right-hand side for the jump shot and lay-up.

crossover dribble

When practicing these basketball moves against a defender, make a short jab step at your defender's front foot.

If the defender moves in the direction of the jab to block your path, quickly execute a crossover step with the same foot to the opposite side.

The crossover step should be a long step past the defender's foot. At the same time, swing the ball quickly across your chest close to your body and shift it to your outside hand.

Keep your inside shoulder between your defender and the ball. Drive hard past your defender.

Jab & Shoot

  1. Jab R --> pull-up jump shot
  2. Jab L --> pull-up jump shot

Make a quick jab step to the right, and bring your jab foot quickly back into shooting position. Get your balance and pull up for the shot.

Repeat going to the left.

When practicing these basketball moves against a defender, jab step into your defender, attacking the front foot. When your defender reacts by stepping backward and dropping his arms, quickly bring the jab-step foot back into a balanced shooting position and shoot the jump shot.

Your youth basketball plays will get you plenty of scoring opportunities if your players can execute some of these basketball moves.

The great thing about these offensive combinations is that some of them are simple enough to teach children's basketball players; yet my college players got a lot of benefit from them as well.

Improve your basketball moves with more fun drills 

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