What Does Drive Mean In Basketball? (Incredible Guide)

You hear the term DRIVE in basketball all the time.

But what does it mean?

In basketball, to drive means to go close to the basket to score, pass, or to draw a foul. But to get close to the basket, you’ll need to get past defenders. That’s why there are important tips you should know first before you drive.

As driving is an essential skill of any basketball player, we’ve prepared this incredible guide for you!

What does Drive Mean in Basketball?

In basketball, the term drive means to take the ball to the basket.

The most common reason for driving in basketball is to score near the basket. This can either be a layup, floater, dunk or an alley-oop.

Another term for drive is penetrate, go through, push through, power through and dribble through the basket.

Why do Players Drive in Basketball?

You’d think that driving in basketball would only mean that the player wants to score. Although that’s the common reason; it’s not the only one.

There are actually numerous plays that can be created just by driving through the basket. Here are all the reasons why players do it:

1. To score

The most common reason for a player driving through the basket is to score. Common sense would tell you that near the ring is where its easiest to score.

But that’s if there are no defenders. Unfortunately, defenders are the most concentrated below and near the rim.

But once you get past the defenders, it’s usually an easy bucket.

So, what are the types of shots that you can make near the basket? Here are they:

  • Layup
  • Dunk
  • Floater
  • Tip-in
  • Hook shot

All these shots are each worth two points since they’re scored inside the three-point line.

2. To pass

The second most popular reason why players drive to the basket is to pass.

They can do it intentionally as a play such as driving to the basket to draw defenders and then pass at the open man.

Or they may do it unintentionally such as driving with the intent to score but pass at the last second since they’re trapped.

But they can also drive and do an alley-oop which is a pass near the basket for an immediate score. This is typically done through a pick and roll.

Whatever they choose to do, driving and passing is an excellent strategy that will leave defenders dumbfounded.

3. To draw a foul

The last reason why players would drive to the basket is to draw a foul.

This is technically part of the first reason above since they’re still intending to score.

Most players who drive are looking for a foul since defenders will flock near the basket to prevent easy scores.

So, they may exert more strength than usual trying to stop the offensive player driving in resulting in a foul.

If they’re fouled and they made the shot, they have a chance for a three-point play. But if they were fouled and didn’t make the basket, they’ll get two free throws.

Tips to Successfully Drive in Basketball

Driving in basketball is one of the most important skills that every player should know.

Without the ability to drive and score near the basket, the player is limited. So, what are the things that you need to know to be able to drive in the basket?

Here are my best tips:

1. Improve your dribbling

The foundation for the drive is the dribble. If you want to drive, you need to be able to control the ball however you want to.

Since defenders will be flocking in to defend you if you’re going to the basket, you need to be able to mix up your moves.

This is where good dribbling skills come in. Since you’ve mastered dribbling, you’re able to crossover your opponents. You can mix and match any move to shake past defenders easily.

But if you don’t improve your dribbling, the ball can get stolen easily when you drive.

2. Be unpredictable

Aside from improving your dribbling, you also need to be unpredictable. Don’t just drive and score every time.

If you do those multiple times, defenders will just get used to it. So, you need to also throw a different play in the mix. Why not try a drive and kick out to the open man?

You can also use a pick and roll which lets you drive to the basket and throw an alley-oop.

There are so many things you can do once you’re near the basket. Don’t go for the most obvious route all the time!

3. Mix up your speed and tempo

The most skilled players are a master of their tempo. They can change their tempo and adjust their speed anytime.

You can try to force your way through the basket through speed. But if the defenders are skilled, you’ll need to throw them off their game.

If so, why not try the Luka Doncic way of slow drive and unpredictable tempo? Since everyone is used to quick drives, a sudden stop would throw off opponents.   

Once you master accelerating and decelerating in your drives, you can have so many ways to score near the basket.

4. Learn to fake

As part of being unpredictable, you can also throw off fakes whenever the defender overcommits.

A good one would be to fake a pass and immediately burst through the defender to score.

Another one would be to drive and fake a layup which will have the defender jump. Then, you can lay it up since they’re on their way down. Doing fakes will also let you draw fouls.

5. Know when to drive

Just knowing how to drive is only half of the picture. Knowing WHEN to drive is also crucial.

So, when exactly should you drive? While there’s no definite answer for this, there are some obvious instances.

One could be when your teammate sets up a pick.

Another good time to drive is when the defender’s lead foot is leaning towards you. You can then attack it since they’ll need to turn their body to defend.

Final Thoughts

Every basketball player should be able to drive to the basket. After all, the closer you are to the basket, the easier scoring becomes.

But that means you’ll have to get past your defender as well as help that will come in all directions. Which is why it’s important to know the tips listed above to build your foundation.

Read these next:

Leave a Comment