How to Beat a Defender in One on One Basketball

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Effective dribble moves, jab steps, head fakes and pivot moves can help a basketball player beat a defender one-on-one. Players can use these skills to beat defensive pressure in the backcourt, attack the lane in the front court and create the space needed to pass or shoot.

Develop Your Off Hand

  • Man-to-man defenders want to force you to your weak hand to limit your offensive effectiveness. Learning to dribble well with both hands will force defenders to play you straight up. Develop quick first steps each way. Use low, hard dribbles to move into passing or shooting position. Learning to finish with both hands will help you beat your man and score off the drive.

Crossover Dribble

  • Once you can dribble well with both hands, the crossover dribble becomes much more effective. Stay low and use a hard fake to drive your defender one way. Plant your dribble-side foot, then take a hard dribble to the opposite side -- switching hands and pushing the ball past the defender's hip to gain separation.

Use Jump Shots to Set Up Drives

  • Smart defenders will sag off of poor perimeter shooters and simply play the drive, making it easier to contain even the best ball-handlers. By developing a decent outside shot, you will force defenders to play you straight up. That shooting threat allows you to use head and pump fakes to draw defenders off their feet and make it easier to beat them off the dribble.

Use Drives to Set Up Jump Shots

  • Great jump shooters with poor ballhandling skills will draw tight defense on the perimeter. Defenders will overplay their shot and dare them to drive. By learning to drive to the basket effectively -- with quick first steps and low, hard dribbles -- you can make the defender guard against penetration. That allows you to drive back your man with a jab step and gain room to shoot.

Low Post Drop Step

  • Great one-on-one offensive players can also beat defenders with back-to-the-basket moves in the low post. Set up in a wide, strong position on the side of the free throw lane. Extend both hands out high to receive a pass. As it arrives, drop your foot closest to the basket and jump stop on the catch, with your toes and shoulders pointing toward the baseline. Shoot with your back hand while using your lead arm to ward off the defender.

Up-and-Under Move

  • This move complements the drop step. Pivot on your high foot, face the basket, fake the jump shot to get the defender up, then duck down and use a power dribble to attack the basket going the other way. Do not lift your pivot foot before dribbling.

Hook Shots

  • Against a smaller defender, the old-school hook shot can be most effective. Back your man down into shooting range, using your shooting hand to dribble edging toward the hoop with your opposite hip. Plant and pivot on your opposite foot, turning your non-shooting shoulder into the defender to create space. Lift your shooting side knee while rising up with your shooting hand to loft the shot gently over the front of the rim.

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