Basketball is a game filled with various rules and regulations that help maintain fairness and integrity. One such rule is the double dribble violation, which often confuses both players and spectators. In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of a double dribble in basketball and shed light on its implications.

Definition of a Double Dribble

A double dribble occurs when a player unlawfully touches the basketball with both hands or interrupts a dribble by catching the ball with two hands and then resuming the dribble. It is a violation that results in the loss of possession for the offending team.

Distinguishing a Double Dribble from a Regular Dribble

To understand a double dribble better, it is crucial to distinguish it from a regular dribble. A regular dribble allows a player to bounce the ball off the floor using one hand continuously, without coming to a complete stop or catching the ball with both hands.

Instances of a Double Dribble

A double dribble can occur in various situations during a basketball game. Detailed examples of double dribbles:

  1. Starting a new dribble after coming to a stop: If a player stops dribbling, they cannot dribble again without passing, shooting, or losing control of the ball to another player.
  2. Dribbling with both hands simultaneously: Using both hands to dribble the ball at the same time is considered a double dribble.
  3. Catching the ball with both hands after dribbling: If a player catches the ball with both hands after dribbling, they cannot resume dribbling. They must pass or shoot the ball instead.

Exceptions and Scenarios:

While the double dribble rule is generally strict, there are some exceptions and scenarios where a double dribble may not be called:

  • A player who ends their dribble may start a new dribble if they establish a pivot foot before lifting their second hand.
  • In the case of a fumble or accidental loss of control, the player can regain control and continue dribbling without being penalized for a double dribble.
  • During a jump ball or after gaining possession from a steal or rebound, a player can catch the ball with both hands but must pass, shoot, or dribble it before either foot touches the floor.

Refereeing and Enforcement:

Identifying a double dribble is the responsibility of the officials in a basketball game. They closely monitor the actions of the players and make judgments based on the rules. The officials use specific signals, such as a quick tap of the shoulder with one hand, to indicate a double dribble violation.

Consequences of a Double Dribble:

Committing a double dribble violation comes with certain penalties:

Loss of possession: The team committing the double dribble forfeits possession of the ball to the opposing team. This can significantly impact the flow of the game.

Stoppage of play: When a double dribble is called, the game temporarily halts to allow the opposing team to inbound the ball from the sideline or baseline.

Common Misunderstandings

Addressing common misconceptions about double dribbles can help clarify the rule further:

Misconception 1: A player can catch the ball after dribbling it and start a new dribble.

Clarification: Once a player catches the ball after dribbling, they cannot start a new dribble. They must pass, shoot, or refrain from further dribbling.

Misconception 2: The double dribble rule applies only in certain situations.

Clarification: The double dribble rule applies to all situations in basketball where a player commits a violation.


Answering frequently asked questions related to double dribbles can enhance understanding. Here are some common queries:

Can a player dribble the ball with both hands simultaneously?

No, in basketball, players cannot dribble the ball with both hands simultaneously. The rules dictate that players must dribble with only one hand, continuously bouncing the ball off the floor.

What happens if a player accidentally loses control of the ball while dribbling?

If a player accidentally loses control of the ball while dribbling, it results in a turnover. The opposing team gains possession of the ball, and there is a change in possession. It is crucial for players to maintain control to avoid turnovers.

Does the double dribble rule apply during a fast break?

Yes, the double dribble rule applies during a fast break in basketball. Once a player has ended their dribble by picking up the ball, they cannot dribble again. If a player attempts to dribble again after ending the initial dribble, the officials consider it a double dribble violation. This violation results in a turnover, and the opposing team gains possession. Players must make careful decisions during a fast break to avoid committing a double dribble violation.


Understanding the rules of basketball, including the double dribble violation, is essential for fair play and enjoyment of the game. Familiarizing oneself with these rules enhances the overall basketball experience for players and fans alike. Additionally, it encourages individuals to deepen their knowledge of the sport and explore other basketball regulations that contribute to its integrity.

By coach

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