What Is A Carry In Basketball? Explained


A carry in basketball? I didn’t know there’s such a thing. You may not have known what a carry ball is but that isn’t your fault as it doesn’t get called by the referee as often as it did years prior.

What is a carry ball? A carry ball in basketball is when a player is dribbling the ball stops the rhythm of the dribble by pausing the ball quickly than continuing to dribble. This is usually done by the player’s hand which is located underneath the ball while the player dribbles which is a violation according to the rules of basketball.

I see players doing this all the time while doing their dribble moves, so do all players carry the ball then? Let us examine what the rule states further and see what type of moves may be classified as a carry ball.

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Rules To This Game

Every decade the style of basketball changes, the players are more explosive and skilled. Athletes have evolved from generation to generation. This is certainly the case with ball-handling, moves done in today’s game like the step back, crossovers and spin moves would be considered a carry ball back in the 70s and 80s. But just like a computer every year, athletes get faster, smarter, and better.

The NBA is very entertaining in fact I believe it is the most entertaining sport out of all the major sports, with the storylines and movements of the players to different teams so frequently this creates a lot of buzz and chaos in the social media world.

It is obvious why the NBA doesn’t call travels or carry balls very often, it slows the game down and it wouldn’t be entertainment if we couldn’t see a few broken ankles which may involve a carry ball not being called in the process.

But for fun sakes lets look at what the rule states:

RULE NO. 10: Violations and Penalties

According to the NBA rule book located at this link https://official.nba.com/rule-no-10-violations-and-penalties/ a carry ball is described as the following.

Section II—Dribble

(d.) A player who is dribbling may not put any part of his hand under the ball and (1) carry it from one point to another or (2) bring it to a pause and then continue to dribble again.

Ok let’s break this rule down.

(d.) A player who is dribbling may not put any part of his hand under the ball

So as long as a player doesn’t put his hand directly underneath the basketball then it is not a carry, I completely agree that is what the rule states. But then let’s look at the next line.

(1) carry it from one point to another or….

The spin move comes to mind when we spin and are still dribbling, you are carrying it from one point to the next as you spin, is that considered a carry some may argue this. Then finally…

(2) bring it to a pause and then continue to dribble again.

If the officials started to call this rule as it is stated in the NBA rule book the game of basketball would last and extra hour and would make the NBA boring. I really believe they need to revise their rules though, what do you think.

Moves That May Be Considered A Carry?

The Hesi also is known as the hesitation dribble that can be called as a carry if you don’t perfect the move, there’s little room for error. Basically you are dribbling down the court and you come to the three-point line and make it look as if you are about to shoot the ball but instead you fake the shot while dribbling by making it seem you are going to pick up the ball with your free hand and pause for a split second and then continue to dribble all in one motion.

This makes the defense rise on their toes to try and block the shot but you blow by them instead. This is a difficult move that takes time to perfect but very rewarding when you are able to pull it off. If you are not very good at doing the move it may look like a carry and you may get called for it.

Crossovers are the most common type in which the player tries to take advantage of the defense by faking by going one way than going the opposite. You are basically carrying the ball on the way down and moving it another way against its natural flow of gravity. Usually, it is pretty obvious, much like the Iverson crossover.

Stationary Dribble While protecting the ball the player is running plays on offense and waiting for the play to develop to pass to the open man when the defense gets close the player is protecting the ball with his body and off-hand.

When the defender becomes aggressive and goes in for the steal the natural reaction the player dribbling is to cuff the ball gaining an advantage of control.

Over Hand Crossover while the player is dribbling down the middle of the court in transition the player is may try to stop the player head-on in the open court and the player dribbling the ball with his right hand will cross the player by grabbing the ball with his right and bouncing it to his left in an overhand fashion. The right-hand goes on to the side where the left hand is.


Allen Iverson King Of The Crossover

Allen Iverson was considered one of the best ball handlers of his era. In his rookie season in 1997, Allen Iverson crossed over Michael Jordan and from that point on Iverson became a star player. Iverson’s crossover was believed to be a carry by many people.

You can describe his crossover as a really wide but fast exaggerated crossover moving from right to left and blowing by his defender. Some believe he invented the crossover but personally he just gave it a long needed upgrade and changed the game in the process.

Allen Iverson admits his crossover is a carry that goes against the NBA rule book. He also states that he carried his crossover to the hall of fame.

I’m sure coaches complained about it all the time and it was talked about during halftime by the refs. In the end, it is up to the referee to make the call.


I carried my crossover all the way to the Hall Of Fame’.

Allen Iverson



The kids I use to coach in basketball games would complain to me all the time I didn’t touch him, coach, I didn’t touch him when a ref would call a foul. My reply is always this, it just has to look like a foul, I discovered this pretty early in basketball.

One such incident happened when I was playing in a men’s league game and we were down 2 points with 3 secs left and the ball is inbounded after the opposing team had scored, I yelled for the ball and knew I had to shoot from half-court, we had no timeouts.

The other team surprisingly allowed me to also but they were all bunched up with me in the center of the court while I was about to shoot. Sure enough, I missed the shot, then I hear a whistle blown, thinking that’s the end of the game whistle.

Foul was called and I’m going to the line to tie or win the game. This was a case of it just had to look like a foul, they were all bunched up and it sure did look like something but no one touched me lol. It also didn’t help, I must add that the other team was talking back to the refs the whole game. Maybe that has something to do with it also but who knows.

I could have easily missed one and hit two shots out of three and send the game into overtime. The refs hate overtime they don’t get paid extra. But I won the game for my team and it probably did look like a foul.

Dribbling and Perception

While you dribble and do a move against a defender it will be how you perceive that move to the defender to fake them out. The same is true with the referee, it just has to look legit when you do a crossover or any move for that matter to pull it off.

The ref may not have caught it the first time and made the call, but may make the call the second time you use it depending on the move. The ref may not even care unless the coach makes a complaint and then now he’s aware of it.

The bottom line it just has to look like a carry.


That concludes the article on What a carry ball is in basketball, it is crazy to think when I was in high school my coach would yell at me in practice that I was carrying the ball. Now its the norm and I like it. If you are looking for some excellent basketball shooting tips check out my article below thank you.


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