Pivoting in basketball is an action the ball-handler can take by rotating around a pivot foot without picking it up. Pivoting helps a player avoid a defensive player and find an opening on the court to take a shot, make a pass, or dribble toward the basket.
Basketball Pivoting Rules
There are rules in the sport that describe how a player can pivot with the ball. Here are the rules of pivoting in basketball:
- You can rotate around your pivot foot.
- You can not lift your pivot foot off the floor until you shoot, pass, or begin dribbling the ball.
- You can not hold onto the ball for longer than five seconds.
- You can not change your pivot foot once it is established.
- You can not start to dribble after you begin pivoting, if you were dribbling before pivoting.
Basketball Pivot Foot
A pivot foot is one of the ball-handler's feet that must remain on the floor while they pivot. The ball-handler can either choose their pivot foot or have it automatically be assigned by the way they catch the ball.
Once a player stops dribbling and picks up his dribble, they can only pivot, shoot, or pass the ball. Once a player has a pivot foot, they can not start dribbling again.
Choosing a Pivot Foot
When the ball-handler picks up their dribble, they have the choice of choosing their pivot foot. Picking up your dribble means the player stops dribbling and holds the ball in their hands. When choosing a pivot foot, the ball-handler can pick either their left foot or right foot. Try to choose your pivot foot based on which will give you better options for a pass or a good shot!
Assigned Pivot Foot
Sometimes, a player doesn't get to choose their pivot foot. The ball-handler's pivot foot is automatically assigned if they catch a pass or rebound while one foot is on the floor. In that case, the foot that is on the floor is their pivot foot.
When catching a pass or rebound, make sure you jump in the air and keep both feet off the floor. If you do that, then you'll be able to choose your pivot foot.
Traveling is a violation in basketball that will be called on you if you violate the rules of dribbling. An example of traveling is lifting your pivot foot off the floor. You can think of the pivot foot as a rooted tree. When pivoting, you must keep your pivot foot rooted on the floor. If you do not, your team will lose the ball and you will return to defense.
You can lift your pivot foot off the floor only if you immediately pass or shoot the ball prior to having it touch the floor again.
Five Second Violation
A five second violation will be called on the ball-handler if they hold onto the ball once their pivot foot is established for longer than five seconds. Five second violations result in a turnover and the other team getting the ball. This rule only applies in college and high school basketball. In the NBA, the 5 second rule is only for throw ins. When you begin pivoting, immediately start looking for your best option for getting rid of the ball. Pass, shoot, or start dribbling!