What Is a Double Dribble & What Is Double Dribble Violation?

Double dribble refers to one of the Personal violations in basketball. The double dribble is considered to be executed if occurs in one of two ways. The first occurrence includes when the player dribbles the ball with “both hands simultaneously” OR “re-dribbles” the ball after voluntarily ending the first dribble. The second occurrence, also stated under the National Basketball Association rule book states that double dribbling happens when the player has possession of the ball and the ball comes to “rest” at any given time in “one or both hands” of the player OR the player the ball “twice” before landing it or dribbling it to the ground.

What Is a Double Dribble in Basketball

Double dribble, also termed Illegal dribble or dribble violation happens when the player performs the illegal action of “holding or stopping” the ball with both hands while dribbling. The general rules of dribbling also state that a player cannot hold or stop the ball with two hands to continue/play dribbling. The motion of pausing/resting the ball while dribbling and then starting/continuing the dribbling again leads to a double dribble. 

Recommended to read: How to Improve Dribbling in basketball

Primarily, “Double dribble” exhibit the concept of a dribble, then a pause, and again a dribble by the player. The NBA prohibits the second dribble after the player has voluntarily ended the first. If it occurs, the violation of the rule is said to be committed.

Legal Second Dribble

Few exceptions are there that make the double dribble legal or acceptable.

  • If the player shots the rim or the backboard successfully and the ball bounce back to the same player.
  • If the player loses control of the ball while making the first dribble by wrong touch or interception by the defender
  • When the dribbler pass or fumble the ball and some other player touch it.

Such violations do not usually occur in leagues like NBA, or NCAA but are more observed in the Youth/College league play levels.

Why Is the Double Dribble Illegal? Why Is Double Dribble Not Allowed?

In an offensive-minded sport, the double dribble comes as a great disadvantage to the defense. The continuous double dribble with both hands by the offensive players restricts the defense to pick up or intercept the ball easily. Also, it may get difficult for the defense to achieve the ‘benefit’ of trapping the offense into corners while they have an advantage of the double dribble. The double dribble rule of not touching/holding the ball with both hands outcomes in an honest and clear dribble by the players.

The double dribble benefits the defense in a way, that player who has yet to first dribble has options to ditch the defense by either passing, shooting, or dribbling. Once, the player dribbles the ball the defense is now secure because of the inability of the player to play the drive again, and hence the defense applies pressure with much impulsiveness.

Why Is Double Dribble Not Allowed

The other reason is to ensure active ball movement during the play. The players are discouraged to hold on to the ball for too long which may consequence in less interaction between the players and less gameplay. Hence the double dribble rule not only ensures the frequent passing of the ball to engage the players with one, another but also ascertains the participation of all players on the court.

The execution of the double dribble maintains the flow of the game and keeps the game thrilling, and gripping by ensuring the passing of the ball from player to player.

What Happens if a Player Double Dribbles? What’s the Penalty for a Double Dribble?

Double Dribbling Penalty results in the “turnover” of the ball and the defensive team instantly get possession of the ball.

What Happens if a Player Double Dribbles

However, the rules may differ for different leagues. Just like NCAA, FIBA, and NFHS (the governing body for high school basketball) enforce the defense to ‘throw in’ the ball nearest to the position where the violation/infringement occurred. Meanwhile, the NBA allows the inbound of the ball in the middle of the court only, i.e between the free-throw line and the baseline.

Are Dribbling Rules Actually Enforced?

Since dribbling involves the frequent and much quicker motion of the ball, sometimes the referees may miss noticing the double dribble played by the players. The fast pace of the game, may outcome in rare instances where the referee may forget the player has already dribbled and end up issuing no violation call or penalty.

What Is the Difference Between Double Dribble and Carrying?

The difference between double dribbling and carrying is double dribble is the re-dribbling of the ball after the pause of the first voluntarily completed dribble whereas the carrying foul occurs when the dribbler being in motion holds the ball for a longer period of time by placing one of his hands under the ball. The idea of double dribbling and carrying is somehow relative and comparable due to the placements and usage of hands.

What Is the Difference Between Double Dribble and Carrying

What Is the Difference Between Double Dribble and Traveling?

The difference between double dribble and traveling is double dribble is the action of starting/continuing the dribble after allowing the ball to come to rest/pause whereas traveling is the kind of double dribble where the player with possession of the ball keeps taking the illegal steps without dribbling the ball. On contrary, the player is allowed to rotate and step with one foot as long as the “pivot foot” doesn’t move (other than rotating).

Related Article: Basketball Travel Mean

What Is the Difference Between Double Dribble and Traveling

Controversy Regarding Double Dribbles in the NBA

Since the violations and fouls like double dribbling, carrying, and traveling are similar in ways. They are usually left unnoticeable by the referees. The frequent happenings of these violations result in ”under-call” of these fouls and penalties to be imposed.

Some fans attribute this to the recent struggles of NBA players from the United States in foreign competition. Because penalty calls are so rare, there isn’t often a lot of external pressure to change harmful habits.

Understanding and Learning the Double Dribble

The below video is the learning tutorial about what is a double dribble, how it’s performed, and the strategies to follow to overcome the double dribble in basketball play.


Though dribble double comes with the penalty yet many times it gets looked out because of the frequent dribbling motion by the player. Players in big leagues are proficient enough to not play double dribbles however they’re still more likely to be encountered in small leagues of basketball.

The early correction and gentle reminders are the only way to prepare the young players for double dribble avoidance.

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