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Establishing a Pivot Foot

  • Author:
    By Vic Pruden
  • Date:
    Jun 9, 2011

At the moment you gain possession of the ball (receive or intercept a pass, get a rebound, or pick up a loose ball) or end your dribble, you must establish a pivot foot. You gain possession when you catch and have control of the ball, with one hand or both hands.

Dribbling is the act of bouncing the ball to the court with one hand without interruption. It ends the moment you interrupt that bouncing by touching the ball simultaneously with two hands or by allowing it to come to rest a) hold the ball, b) move it laterally (carried ball); or c) rotate it (palming). The moment the ball comes to rest in your hand, you end your dribble. Dribbling again after the ball comes to rest is a double dribble, a violation.

Establishing a Pivot Foot

The moment you gain possession or end your dribble, you can establish a pivot foot in the following ways.

1. If both feet are on the court, you may choose your pivot foot. Moving one foot establishes the other as the pivot foot.

2. If one foot is on the court, that foot is the pivot foot.

3. If both feet are in the air, the foot that touches the court first is the pivot foot. Should both feet land on the court simultaneously, then you may choose your pivot foot, as in point 1.


Having established a pivot foot, you may, within defined limits, pivot, shoot, pass or dribble.To pivot, you may step with the non-pivot foot in any direction, provided the ball of the pivot foot remains in contact with the court and does not move laterally.

You may raise your pivot foot to shoot or pass, provided the ball leaves your hands before the pivot foot returns to the court.

When executing a dribble, however, you must ensure that the ball leaves your dribbling hand before the pivot foot leaves the court.

You may jump forward off your pivot foot, provided you land so that both feet touch the court simultaneously. Once you have landed, you cannot move either foot, raise either foot, or jump, using a two-foot take off.

Not playing within these limitations is a violation, resulting in loss of possession of the ball (a turnover).

Dumbing-Down the Game

These are the rules relating to establishing a pivot foot and to the limitations of what you can do with that pivot foot. These rules make basketball a game of skill.

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