Every shot trainer basketball understands that your first job is to get open when you're on offense. And if you're a basketball coach, you know that the best way for your players to get open is by using their dribble. But what exactly does that mean? How can you use your dribble to create separation from your defender?

And how can you do it differently depending on whether you're playing against man-to-man or zone defense? Read on for a complete guide to getting open off the dribble with some of the best moves available to any basketball player.

Why Should Players Create Separation in Basketball?

During a game, many things can happen that force you to get open. Maybe you're being guarded by someone too good, and you must create space to get off an uncontested shot.

Or maybe you're getting double-teamed on every possession, and the only way for your team to score is if you can somehow split the defenders. Whatever the case, knowing how to get open off the dribble will give your team an immediate advantage over their opponents.

Another reason players should learn how to create separation is that it helps them avoid getting called for offensive fouls. There are many times when a player will get off an open shot, but before they can release the ball, they'll get bumped by their defender and end up with a foul instead.

You can avoid those situations by learning to create space with your dribble.

Best Drills for Creating Separation

So, what basketball drills can you use to help your players learn how to get open off the dribble? Here are our favorites:

Crossover dribble

The crossover dribble is one of the most basic drills you can do to help your players learn how to create separation. It's also an excellent way to work on their ball-handling skills. Start by having your players stand before a coach or teammate holding a basketball out in front of them.

Have them start with their right hand and make sure they dribble the ball only using that hand, so they don't switch hands (this will happen if you're too close).

Next, have them push off their right foot and dribble the ball with both hands. As they do this, they'll need to bring their left hand up over their right shoulder to get the ball behind them.

Now have them switch hands to dribble with their left hand and push off with their right foot again. Do this until you've worked through all the players in your group or until everyone has practiced doing it on each side.

Step back jump shot

Have your players move back a few steps and practice taking step-back jump shots. This is usually taken with the player stepping back from the basket and jumping up before shooting. Have them begin by standing under their basket, facing out toward the court.

Then have them take one step back with their left foot (while staying on it), extending their right leg behind them as if they were about to do a layup. Next, have them bring their right leg up into an athletic stance so that they're ready to shoot, dribble or pass, depending on what you want them to do next (in this case, we're focusing on creating separation).

Then have them take one step forward with their left foot and jump into the air as if they were about to do a layup. Once they've landed back on the ground, have them repeat this step-back jump shot motion to get comfortable before moving on to something else.

Spin move

Sometimes, creating separation in basketball requires a spin move. This is an effective way to create space between you and the defender so that they can't get close enough to block your shot or steal the ball from you.

To do this, have your player start in an athletic stance with their right foot forward (they should face away from where they want to go). Then have them take one step back with their left foot before spinning around 180 degrees, so they're facing in the other direction (facing where they want to go).

After that, they can take off where they want to go.

To make this move even more effective, have your player practice it with their hands up (so that they're ready to shoot or pass) so that when they spin around, they're already prepared to make a quick decision on what they want to do next.

The teardrop

The teardrop is brilliant for players who want to get by an opponent without dribbling or passing. Players can also use it to beat the defense, especially if they're trying to pressure you (by making them move laterally).

To perform this move, have your player start with their right foot forward and then take off with their left foot toward where they want to go. Then have them make a quick step back with their right foot before pushing off so that they're traveling backward (called the "teardrop").

Once they've made this backward movement, they'll then be able to cut back in front of the defender without them being able to react fast enough.


One of the fundamental principles of creating separation in basketball is to get the defender out of position. This is done by using moves that force them to move laterally (moving side-to-side), which leaves them vulnerable at the point when you cut back in front of them.

The behind-the-back move is one of the best ways to create this kind of separation because it forces the defender to move laterally for several steps before they can recover and close down on your player again.

To perform the behind-the-back cut, your player should dribble with their right hand and quickly switch to their left hand as they step behind their back. They should then use this change in direction to cut up towards the lane.

This move can be challenging to perform at first because of its speed and suddenness, but it’s a great way to get past defenders when you’re playing against someone who tends not to react well when trying to defend cuts.

The hesitation move

The hesitation move is a great way to get past defenders who are playing physical defense on you. To perform this move, your player should dribble toward the defender and stop suddenly as if they’re going to pass the ball.

This will cause the defender to react by trying to close down on them, but your player should then quickly move around them in the opposite direction that they were facing before stopping.

The hesitation cut can be used as an isolation move or with other cuts so that it appears like more than one player is cutting at once (which is why it’s called ‘ hesitation’). Players can also use it to get a defender out of position so that you can pass the ball through them. The hesitation move is especially effective when your player has a speed advantage over the defender they’re trying to shake off.


Creating separation from a defender is an integral part of basketball. It allows you to get open shots, make passes to teammates and create scoring opportunities for yourself. You can use basketball training equipment to help you improve your ability to get open. You can also work on your basketball skills, including shooting, dribbling, and practicing moving without the ball.