Basketball’s Triple Threat Position

There are few technical teaching points in basketball that are as simple as the Triple Threat Position. The Triple Threat Position is at is rawest a simple body positioning technique which provides the most efficient and effective use of the offensive options available to any individual player.


The Triple Threat Position focuses on putting the athlete in the best functional stance to pass, dribble and shoot.

English: basketball Español: baloncesto
Jump-shot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


From the Ground Up


The athletes feet should be slightly wider than shoulder with the dominate foot (right hand or left hand) slightly out in front. A key teaching point is laces to toes. With the lead foot in front draw an imaginary line sideways and the pivot foot or non-dominant foot must be behind this point.


Knees should be flexed. Not at right angles but sufficiently positioned to help with explosive pushes and quick movements.


At the hips, the torso should be leaning forward so the head is positioned to have noise over toes. A common problem here is athletes leaning too far forward and reducing their ability to make controlled and balanced movements a pace.


Shoulders should be back with the athletes back remaining straight. This will help with maintain good vision and balance.


Start by placing the ball in the hands of the player in the shooting grip. From this position move the ball onto the dominate hands hip. You should see the guiding arm across the body and the dominant hand’s elbow slight behind the position of the body. The elbow should be at a right angle ready the released into a quick shot action.


Ensure the basketball is on the hip and touching the top of the thigh. This is an important teaching point as it allows for the ball to be knocked or bumped and still be able to be controlled as there are four points of contact (left and right hand, hip and thigh).


The position as in everything will make or break your overall success. Vision should always be foremost in a coaches and players mind. To help with the heads position start by having your athletes focus on something at eye height initially. This will help ensure your athletes keep their head up and stop looking at the floor or the player immediately in front of them. After all the triple threat position is about being able to pass as much as dribble or shoot.


Triple Threat Position and Athlete Development


As players mature and develop they should be changing the sequence in which they use the options in the Triple Threat Position. This is based upon technical physiological aspects of the player’s development and what will ultimately result in the best option for the team. The categories provided below are a starting point to help with sequencing options but should not replace individual assessment of a player’s abilities.


For a Beginning Player it is suggested the order of the triple threat options is pass, dribble and shoot. This is because often new players feel more comfortable with not linking technical skills together. Additionally, younger athlete’s offences revolve around team player movement and less to do with isolation and two man game.


English: basketball Español: baloncesto
Chest Pass (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For Intermediate Players the sequence can be changed to dribble, shoot and pass. This is because as players skills improve we should also see the ability to handle the ball and find space off the dribble also developing. This type of dribbling can lead to drives to the basket of a lay-up or reduced shooting range from the perimeter, which in turn increase shooting percentage.


For an Advanced Player the order again changes to reflect the mastering of technical skills. The order of the sequence now is defined as shoot, dribble, pass. An advanced player should have greater shooting range so they can exercise this option earlier in offensive selection. Another point here is that an advanced player should look to engage and challenge the defender in front of them more often than not. This will push the offensive player’s performance and development and help their team generate offense.


Each player will have their own strengths and weaknesses. This point needs to be acknowledged, but at a junior level players should have the opportunity to develop the widest range of technical skills. For junior athletes while later in their development they might be exposed to position specific technical skills they should still be asked to develop a rounded skill set. For example a seventeen year old athlete playing the position of a Centre should have to perform ball handling drills as well to enhance their development.


For senior athletes the scenario changes and depending on your situation as a coach you can discuss what order these offensive options should be for each individual athlete. Elite athletes will have different roles within different teams so individual training sessions will be tailored to meet the player’s developmental needs but are also balanced by what the team needs from that playing position.

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Coach Riches has been working within the sport, business and education industries for many years. During this time he has built an extensive number of formal and informal qualifications. A firm believer in training and development designed to help people reach their full potential, relevant o their needs and functional to their industry environment.

2 Comments on “Basketball’s Triple Threat Position

  1. Interesting article. Playing out of a proper and athletic stance is probably the must under taught/ under learned fundamental in most sports. We want all our kids to catch in triple threat though we do not want the ball to start on the hip.

    We want the kids to catch with the ball in their high shot pocket so there is less movement to select and execute shoot. If they are going to select dribble or pass then the ball doesn’t move as much since their torso drops and angles anyway the ball ends up over the floor and protected.

    With our pivot foot theory they are always going to cross over step to go by the d (pass or shot) and will be lowering their shoulders and torso to get by anyway so the ball will come down in the shot pocket to just over the floor as that happens naturally. Starting in the shot pocket allows them to have a more compact shot and quicker release.

    We teach on every catch you have three options and you should have made the read prior to or during the catch anyway but the options in order are always: shoot-pass-dribble. We used to teach ball in the hip but realized the ball has to move into a shot position or pocket to do it and come up in front or out to be passed. Probably a stronger position if you want kids to catch wait and play 1 on 1 but we want them to make an anticipatory read and be able to properly attack the close out.

    • Thankyou for the comment! Always happy to hear from coaches out there on the court.

      Your highlighting of the positioning the ball is a really interesting point, and one we discussed for a while some of the points you discussed while writing the article.

      The reason behind our suggestion for the ball to go to the hip is because we have suggested beginner and young junior players should look to pass or dribble first so control is one of the core concerns.

      For older players (such as athletes above fourteen but this depends on the individual development of the athlete) they could make the transition to catching and maintaining the ball in the shooting pocket.

      Once again thankyou for the comment.


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