What’s a Pivot in Basketball?

Written by: Basketball Universe

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What’s a Pivot in Basketball?

What’s a Pivot in Basketball?

A pivot in basketball is a fundamental move that allows a player who is holding the ball to rotate around a single foot (the pivot foot) without traveling or moving the other foot. This technique is crucial for protecting the ball, creating space, and exploring passing or shooting options while stationary. By effectively using a pivot, players can maintain their dribble, evade defenders, and improve their court positioning without committing a violation.

Quick summary

  • A pivot involves rotating around a stationary foot while holding the basketball.
  • Pivoting is essential for protecting the ball, creating space, and looking for passing or shooting opportunities.
  • There are two types of pivots – the front pivot and the rear pivot, each offering different advantages.
  • Mastering pivoting techniques can significantly enhance a player’s ability to maneuver in tight spaces and make strategic plays.

Understanding the Basics of Pivoting

Pivoting in basketball is a skill that allows players to navigate tight spaces, keep the defense guessing, and maintain control of the ball. Once a player has stopped dribbling, establishing a pivot foot becomes crucial to continue making an offensive play without committing a traveling violation. The non-pivot foot can move in any direction, but the pivot foot must remain in contact with the floor until the ball is passed, shot, or dribbled again.

Front Pivot vs. Rear Pivot

Players can execute a pivot using a front or rear motion. A front pivot involves stepping forward or to the side with the non-pivot foot, allowing the player to face the basket or a passing target. In contrast, a rear pivot involves stepping backward or to the side with the non-pivot foot, creating space from the defender and possibly opening up different passing or shooting angles.

Pivoting Techniques and Tips

Mastering the pivot move requires practice and a clear understanding of its mechanics. Here are some tips and techniques to enhance your pivoting skills:

  • Choose the Right Pivot Foot: Upon receiving the ball, players should quickly decide which foot to designate as the pivot foot based on their position, the location of the defenders, and their intended play.
  • Maintain Balance: Keeping a wide stance and a low center of gravity helps maintain balance during the pivot, making it harder for defenders to push you off your spot.
  • Use Your Body: Protect the ball by keeping your body between it and the defender. This also makes it harder for opponents to steal the ball.
  • Scan the Court: While pivoting, keep your head up and eyes open to scan the court for open teammates, available shooting opportunities, or potential driving lanes.
  • Practice Both Directions: Becoming comfortable with pivoting in both directions and using both the front and rear pivot increases your versatility and unpredictability on the court.

Applying Pivots in Game Situations

Pivoting is not just a technique to avoid traveling; it’s a strategic move that can create numerous offensive opportunities. Players can use pivots to:

  • Get Out of Tight Spots: When trapped by defenders, pivoting can help you find an open teammate or create enough space to safely pass the ball.
  • Enhance Post Moves: In the post, pivoting enables players to fake defenders, create shooting opportunities, or initiate powerful drives to the basket.
  • Improve Ball Handling: Through pivoting, players can maintain their dribble while assessing the play, making it easier to navigate through defenders and execute plays.

Drills to Improve Your Pivot Moves

Practicing specific drills can significantly improve your pivoting ability. Here are a few drills to incorporate into your training:

  • Pivot to Pass: Practice catching the ball, establishing a pivot foot, and then using a pivot to create space for a pass to a teammate.
  • Pivot to Shoot: Work on catching the ball, using a pivot move to create separation from a defender, and then taking a jump shot.
  • Post-up Pivots: In the post position, practice using pivots to fake defenders and create open shots or layups.

Mastery of the pivot is fundamental to becoming a well-rounded basketball player. By integrating pivots into various aspects of your game, you can protect the ball more effectively, improve your court vision, and create better scoring and passing opportunities for yourself and your teammates.


Pivoting is a key basketball skill that enhances a player’s ability to maneuver on the court, create space, and make strategic plays. Whether you’re a beginner looking to understand the fundamentals or an experienced player aiming to refine your technique, practicing and mastering the pivot move can significantly elevate your game. Remember, like any skill, pivoting requires patience, practice, and a continuous effort to improve.

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