What Is A Double Dribble In Basketball? Rule Guide

Dribbling is one of the basic yet most essential skills in basketball.

But as basic as it is, some rules still surround it.

So, what exactly is the rule on dribbling?

Double dribble in basketball is a type of violation that happens when a player dribbles the ball with both hands or allows the dribbling to come to a temporary halt or pause and then resumes it again.

Check out this guide to learn how to avoid it.

What is a Double Dribble in Basketball?

Leagues have rules on the legal and acceptable way of dribbling. A player should use one hand at a time with the palm facing the ground when he dribbles the ball.

When a player dribbles the ball with both hands or allows the ball to rest on one or both hands, then dribbles it again after the dribbling is halted, this is considered a double dribble violation.

The only exception is when the dribbling was halted because of a field goal attempt, interception of an opponent, and a pass or fumble.

Double dribble isn’t as severe as other violations but results in losing possession of the ball for the offending player and his team.

What are the Rules for Double Dribbling? (Different Leagues)

Most leagues generally have similar rules for double dribbling—from NBA and FIBA to NCAA and NFHS.

The penalty is pretty much the same too. If there’s a significant difference, that is the location of the ball turnover once the violation has been called out.

Here are some of the known basketball leagues and their set of official rules for what is double dribble in basketball.


The NBA rulebook specifies that the dribble ends when the player either deliberately or unwittingly holds the ball simultaneously with both hands.

Another situation where the dribbling officially ends is when the player allows the ball to rest in one or both hands.

If the player resumes his dribbling after either of these scenarios, he will be called out for a double dribble violation.


The rules on double dribble are stipulated in Article 24.2 of the official rulebook of FIBA.

A player is prohibited from resuming his dribbling after he has palmed or carried the ball.

If a player dribbles the second time once his first dribble has officially ended, he will be called out for a double dribble violation.

He’s only allowed to dribble the second time if he lost control of the live ball because he attempted a shot for a field goal, the dribble was intercepted by a player from the opposing team, or another player has touched the ball through a pass or fumble.


In the WNBA rulebook, Rule 10 (Violations and Penalties), Section 2.c and 2.d states that a player should not resume her dribbling once her first dribble has officially ended, and when she is dribbling, she’s not allowed to put any part of her hand beneath the ball and carry it from one area to another without dribbling.

The rules also prohibit the player from bringing the dribbling to a pause and resuming dribbling again.

Like FIBA, she may dribble the second time if the dribble was halted because of a field goal attempt, an opponent snagging away the ball, or a pass or fumble.

The NCAA and NFHS pretty much adapt these rules for double dribbling.

In youth basketball, though, officials sometimes decide to be a little more lenient, considering the age and skill level of the players.

What is the Penalty for Double Dribble in Basketball?

As mentioned, while the rules that official leagues implement for double dribble are very similar, the location of ball turnover varies depending on the league.

The double dribble violation results in losing possession of the ball for the offending player and his team, while the opposing team gains possession.

Regarding the location of the ball turnover, the NCAA, FIBA, and NFHS rulebook specifies that this should be done out of bounds closest to the area where the infraction occurred.

On the other hand, under the NBA rules on the double dribble, the ball should be turned over to the opposing team at the closest spot of the violation but no nearer to the end line than the extended free throw line.

What are the Types of Double Dribble?

Double dribble is closely related to other dribbling violations in basketball, like carrying and traveling. We can consider these violations as types of double dribble.

Carrying occurs when a player places the ball above his palm and then continues to dribble. On the other hand, travel occurs when a player carries the ball from one point to another without dribbling it.

These violations have individual terms of their own but can also be considered as types of double dribble in basketball.

What are Examples of Double Dribbling?

We can also imagine two scenarios to understand double dribble in basketball.

In the first example, imagine a player receiving a pass from his teammate. Once he receives the ball, he starts dribbling, stops, and then dribbles again to get past a player from the opposing team.

In the second scenario, let’s imagine a player who wants to fake a shot or pass to confuse his defenders. He has the ball; he drives to the basket by dribbling, picks up the ball to fake a pass or shot, then dribbles again.

The referee almost always calls out the player for a double dribble violation when any of these two examples occur.

Is a Carry a Double Dribble?

In a carry violation, the player puts his palm under the ball and then resumes his dribbling. And so, this can be counted as a double dribble violation as well.

Is Double Dribble and Traveling the Same?

The examples show that double dribble is more like a general term for a dribbling violation and cover various scenarios.

On the other hand, traveling refers to a violation when a player puts his dribbling to a halt and then transports the ball from one point to another without dribbling it.

This can be considered a double dribble if he dribbles the second time after carrying the ball from one spot to another.

What is the Call for Double Dribble?

When a referee spots a double dribble violation, he blows his whistle, puts his right arm up, and his hand signals to ask to stop the shot clock.

Then, he calls for double dribbling by moving his hands up and down, mimicking the dribbling motion. He then points to the opposite way to complete the call, facilitating the ball turnover.

Top 3 Tips to Avoid Double Dribbling in Basketball

While the penalty is not as severe as other violations and fouls, ball turnover can increase the opposing team’s chances to score points, putting your team’s winning chance at stake.

So, how can you avoid the double dribble violation in basketball? We’ve got handy tips for you.

1. Do exercises that strengthen hand-eye coordination

Strong hand-eye coordination is so crucial in dribbling. With limited time to drive the ball closer to the basket and create plays, basketball requires you to stay agile while staying in control of the ball with your game plan in mind.

2. Practice dribbling drills with your team in different scenarios

For example, train each player to control the ball even when the defenders heavily guard him against the opposing team. Practice how to change position or run while dribbling quickly.  

3. Keep in mind the rules on dribbling

Whether playing for college, high school, or elsewhere, always keep the rules on dribbling. Keep your palm facing the ground while dribbling. Don’t bring your dribbling to a halt unless you’re aiming for a shot or pass.

And ultimately, make it your goal to play with integrity. After all, the game of basketball doesn’t only strengthen a player’s physical capabilities but shapes his personality as well.

Last Bit of Advice

So, what’s our final takeaway? Double dribble is a personal violation, but the entire team suffers when the player unwittingly or deliberately violates the rules on dribbling. It results in ball turnover, which increases the other team’s chances of scoring points.

To avoid the double dribble violation, keep the rules in mind, beef up your dribbling skills, and stay focused, alert, and agile while at the moment.

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