In today’s game there is a huge premium on getting the ball into the lane and attacking the rim.
However, to stop the dribble drive help side defenders are packing the paint and trying to force the ball handler to weave through a defensive gauntlet to get to the rim.
As a result the ball handler who wants to score must become skilled at protecting the ball as he enters the lane.
This can be accomplished four ways:
- Keep the ball on the outside hip. This is best used when the help defender is late dropping off and your main concern is keeping it away from your own defender. If the ball is on your outside hip the only way your defender can get to it is by reaching through you which is a foul.
- Execute the “running back.” As you enter the lane tuck the ball close to your body with one arm above the ball and one arm below it, making the ball completely protected.
- Swing the ball high. Most defenders are going to reach low for the ball so swinging it high over your shoulders as you drive often lets you avoid the defense. This technique seems to work very well when using the Euro step to get to the basket.
- Ball fake to freeze the defense. Faking the kick out pass or the behind the back pass (Rondo) will usually freeze the defense and keep them from getting so close to you as to hinder your move to the basket.
Remember, it’s always important to keep the ball protected as you drive the lane but it’s especially crucial if you happen to be your team’s point guard.
If that’s the case then any turnover in the lane usually results in a run out and a layup (or dunk) at the other end.