An Introduction to the Double Dribble Rule in Basketball

Mark Fretta, an avid sports fan and former sports marketing professional, presently oversees business activities at ART and ART Corporate Solutions as vice president of operations. When he is not working, Mark Fretta likes to stay physically fit by competing in triathlon events and playing basketball.

One of the most common violations in basketball is the illegal dribble, more commonly referred to as a double dribble. Despite the frequency of the double dribble in both professional and recreational play, many fans and even some players are unfamiliar with the specifics of the rule. In short, an illegal dribble occurs after a player picks up or ceases their dribble and subsequently resumes dribbling, hence the double dribble shorthand. A player’s dribble is considered to have ended when he or she gathers the ball in both hands, willingly suspends the ball motion in any way while still retaining control, or makes contact with the ball on multiple occasions before the ball bounces off the floor.

There are a few instances in which onlookers may incorrectly believe that an illegal dribble should be called. For example, a double dribble can only be called when the player has possession of the ball. If a defender knocks the ball away from the dribbler or two players are diving for a loose ball, neither player can be called for an illegal dribble as neither player is considered to be in possession of the ball.

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