The defender is LOST… the crowd lets out a collective gasp… and it feels like time itself freezes for a split second. But, being able to break ankles is much more than a gimmick.
It grants you the ability to create shots for you AND your teammates.
Let’s get into three ways you can get to snapping ankles and shifting defenders.
Change of direction
When trying to create space from your defender, a change of direction is lethal, when done right.
I’m sure that those who play/watch a lot of basketball can agree that lots of ankle breakers come from a crossover, or some sort of stepback/dragback dribble.
This is no surprise.
These two dribbles are so effective because they involve a violent change in direction.
With the crossover, it’s from side-to-side, and with a stepback/dragback dribble, it’s from forwards to backwards.
The reason these changes of direction are so deadly, is because they convince your defender you’re going one way…
You’ve gone in the opposite direction, with your defender in the lost and found.
Here are two keys to making sure your change of direction is effective:
- Make it quick – If it’s too slow, it’s easier for defenders to recover. Consistent dribbling workouts will help you speed up hour dribble
- Make the change of direction DRASTIC – Often, players will fail to shift their defenders because – even though they perform the dribble move – they barely change the direction they dribble in.
This leads on to the next point…
Use your eyes and body to deceive the defender
So, let’s assume you’ve been training your handles and can do all your moves well, with control of the ball.
But, maybe your dribbles still aren’t working on actual defenders.
This could be because your moves aren’t convincing enough.
When using moves that fake from one side to the other, your eyes are a weapon.
Stare in the direction you are faking towards, before exploding towards the opposite direction.
You can also use your body to trick defenders.
Face your chest and shoulders, again, in the direction you’re faking towards. Then, take the dribble quickly in the other direction.
Even on a stepback/dragback dribble, leaning forwards with your upper body at first can help to deceive your defender.
It will look as if you’re driving to the basket. Then, when you dribble backwards they are less likely to expect it.
Change of pace
As you probably know, dribbling slowly in front of your defender the whole time won’t be too effective.
However, dribbling fast the whole time can also actually make it harder for you to break ankles.
Although an ankle-breaker is definitely not impossible, dribbling fast will often alert your defender.
This can ruin the element of surprise, making it easier for them to react to your moves.
(Not only that, but it will probably tire you out too!)
Varying between slow and fast dribbles is MUCH more effective.
This is because the slow dribbles will often “lull your defender to sleep”.
Then, you can catch them on their heels with a quick dribble or fake.
This concept is what makes a hesitation dribble so effective. The ball hangs in the air and under/by the side of your hand as you dribble.
This gives you time to assess your defender, and make a decision.
Once they get too relaxed, often all it takes is one quick move to burn your defender.
As well as the hesitation, here are some more dribbling moves to help you blow by defenders and break ankles.