One of the skills that sets elite hoopers apart is their superior footwork. So today we’re going to reveal some basketball pivot drills to improve your game. The goal of a pivot in basketball is to create space by clearing your defender. It’s a simple move but it’s low key lethal when properly used.
“We do a warm-up drill every day that we practice where we literally work on just pivoting, stepping through, and pick-and-roll footwork. Just break it down, step by step,” Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry said.
“Those things happen so many times in a game that you might take it for granted—just the coordination it takes to be explosive in certain situations on the floor. So we work on that in practice…Staying on top of that simple fundamental makes you a little bit faster, a little bit more creative, a little bit more efficient on the floor.” he explained.
As Steph hints, learning to pivot will not only add an essential skill to your bag, but also it’ll help you pick up more advanced skills such as the spin move. Let’s get after it!
To pivot in basketball, keep one foot planted, while stepping around – typically 180 degrees – with the other foot. Basically imagine you’re a door that’s swinging open, and one of your feet is the door hinge. The hinge foot that stays on the ground is called the pivot foot.
You can pivot off a catch or even on the dribble. You can pivot forwards, backwards, or really to any angle you want. In fact, you can do more than one pivot, you can go around like a carousel for days! Just keep in mind the keys to a successful pivot:
Here’s an example of Los Angeles Lakers guard LeBron James using his pivot foot on the dribble to create space:
You can determine your pivot foot a few ways:
But once you decide, that’s it: your pivot foot it absolutely has to stay locked in place. Do not drag it, pick it up, or change it, or you’ll be called for a traveling violation.
Once you’ve pivoted off the catch, you need to dribble before you move your pivot foot. Or you can lift your pivot foot to shoot or pass, but you have to get it done before you land.
The other thing to be aware of is that in high school and college ball, you can get a five second closely guarded violation called on you. This happens when the defender is overwhelming you for five seconds or move and you don’t pass, shoot, or dribble within that time. So pivot with purpose!
The two main ways to pivot in basketball are the outside pivot (also called the forward pivot) and inside pivot (also called the reverse or backwards pivot, or a drop step).
Use the pivot when you need to fake out your defender in half court play. There’s not much need to pivot in a transition type of situation. There are also variations of pivots based on how you protect and move the ball around with your arms and body, that can be used as a reaction to what your defender is giving you.
These pivot drills will help you develop both feet which is critical to keeping your defender on their toes.
Start on the right side of the court outside the three arc with your back to the basket. Spin toss the ball to yourself and catch it with two feet in the air so you land evenly. Plant your left foot as your pivot foot. Then reverse pivot, bringing your right leg around (open the door) so you’re facing the basket, and rip through the ball. Take one dribble, and hit a pull up jump shot. Get 5 makes. If you miss 2 in a row, start over.
Then do this on the opposite side of the court and use your right foot as your pivot foot.
Check out an example of Atlanta Dream guard Tiffany Hayes using this move in a game:
Pick a side of the court to start on. Begin with your back facing the basket outside the three line. Toss the ball to yourself. Catch it and reverse pivot. Then jab forward (to get your defender off you), but instead of driving, pull back and hit a three-point jump shot. Get 5 makes. If you miss 2 in a row, start over.
Then do this on the opposite side of the court.
Now that you’ve locked in the basics, add a little something extra coming out of the pivot. Again, start at the three with your back to the basket and toss yourself the ball. Up first, we’ll reverse pivot, jab to the right, cross your leg to the left, take one dribble and pull up. Get 5 makes. If you miss 2 in a row, start over. Then do this on the opposite side of the court.
Then try the opposite twist on this move: Reverse pivot, landing with your right foot out wide, fake a drive to your left by shifting your weight that way and getting your shoulders low. But then drive directly towards the basket from your right side with one dribble, protect the ball and lay it in. You can practice carrying the ball at different heights on your two step drive as well (high above your head, low to the ground, cupping it like a football) to anticipate that help defender. Get 5 makes. If you miss 2 in a row, start over. Then do this on the opposite side of the court.
Pick a side and start on the block by the basket. Begin with your body facing the top of the key and the ball in your hands. Do a pivot to face towards the basket. But each time try a different rip height – low, mid, or high – before shooting. Get 5 makes. If you miss 2 in a row, start over. Then switch sides to the other half of the court and do the same thing.
Here’s the late Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant hitting the low rip through as an example of how you’d use this in a game situation:
Start at the three on the right side of the court with the ball and drive towards the basket. When you get to a good mid-range pull up distance (foul line, the block, baseline extended etc), plant your left foot and sharply pivot towards the basket (the basket should be to your right side and your back will be to the basket) faking a turn into a shot. Then pivot back the other way to your left, and hit the shot. Get 5 makes. If you miss 2 in a row, start over.
Now do this on the other side of the court.
Here’s Seattle Storm‘s Jewell Loyd using the pivot you’re about to practice to perfection:
Michael Jordan too:
Finally, do the same move you just did, but this time add a third pivot. This move is called a step through. On your second pivot just fake the shot (be sure to look up at the basket, raise the ball like a shot, and keep your knees bent), and instead add another pivot, stepping through towards the basket to shoot. Get 5 makes. If you miss 2 in a row, start over.
Then do this on the other side of the court.
Check out an example of Kobe doing the next iteration you’re going go practice:
Add the basketball pivot to your bag. Up next, learn check out more basketball footwork drills or pick up the push cross move. For dribbling work check out this smart basketball from our partner, to feed you even more drills on your phone.