triple threat position

Basketball Fundamentals: The Triple Threat Position

The triple threat position is a term that catches people’s attention, especially younger players who are hearing the cool string of words for the first time.

For a beginner basketball player, the first instinct upon receiving a ball is to put it on the floor and start dribbling. Starters do not like to face defensive pressure and immediately dribble to get away from the defense.

It does take away the triple threat though! More often than not, the first thing a player should do when receiving the basketball is turning toward the basket and establish the triple threat position, or triple threat stance.

So while the term may sound advanced, it is the most absolute stationary position for a player to hold the ball. It is used at all skill levels, by beginners and pros alike.

What is the triple threat position?

So now you know that the triple threat position is an extremely important position to be in once you get your hands on the ball.

But what is the so-called “triple threat” that we have created by establishing this position?

Well, in this position the player has three options:

  1. Shoot
  2. pass
  3. dribble

It is called the triple threat position because an offensive player can do three things to be in this position: shoot, pass or dribble the ball. By not telegraphing your next move, you keep defenders guessing and open up the entire court.

If you’ve watched an NBA game before, you’ve almost certainly seen a player in the triple-threat stance. Knees bent with a low center of gravity, one foot forward, and the ball held near their hip away from the defender.

How to get into the triple threat position

Here’s how to get into the triple threat position:

  • Catch the ball with both hands and stand with knees slightly bent
  • Square foot to the basket and establish a pivot foot
  • Keep weight shifted on the balls of the feet
  • Keep the ball in a protective pocket between the shoulder and knee
  • Keep elbows pointed to protect the ball

Tips for Mastering the Triple Threat Position

This is the basic technique for getting into the position, but you should also be aware of the following key points:

Keep your center of gravity low

The reason we keep our feet shoulder-width apart and knees bent are to be able to take a shot, pass or start a dribble quickly. All three of these options require you to start low, be in control of your body, and be ready to explode.

Furthermore, from this position, you will occasionally turn your torso and execute a lunge to deal with the defender in front of you. You must be firmly planted on the ground so as not to lose balance.

eyes up

A common mistake is to get into the 3T position and keep your head down with your eyes locked on your defender’s feet. This is a big no-no because you will have no awareness of your surroundings to plan your next move.

You should at least lift your eyes and scan the court to understand the situation around you. Keep your eyes on the rim and take in your surroundings using peripheral vision. This makes the defender and your other opponents think you are going to shoot, and it will make a pass or drive much easier!

Avoid travel

One of the hardest parts of the triple threat is using your feet effectively. You must keep your pivot foot, whichever foot you have chosen, anchored on the ground until the ball has left your hand. Otherwise, a travel violation may be cited.

Fake your defender

As you get more comfortable with the triple threat pose, you’ll want to take it a step further by sprinkling in moves like lunges, head fakes, and pump fakes. These more advanced techniques can send the defender off guard or throw them off balance, giving you the chance to score easy points or drive to the basket.

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Defense against the triple threat position

Because a skilled player can do anything from a triple-threat position, it can be incredibly difficult to defend against a player whose next move is unknown.

Other than getting into a balanced defensive stance, there are no hard and fast rules about how you should defend. Because this is an iso (one-on-one) situation, a lot of it will come down to the physical matchup and skill difference.

There are some essential things to keep in mind such as distance and positioning.

You generally want to be close enough to contest a jumper, but also far enough to stop a drive. Around arm’s length is a good rule of thumb, although, of course, it depends on the game.

In terms of position, you want to position yourself in such a way that you force the attacker to their weak side. For example, if they are right-handed, you can put your right foot forward to encourage the player to drive left.

Finally, it is important to learn about your opponent’s habits. During the game, you will develop an instinct of what they like to do from a triple threat. Some players are more predictable than others, and you can use this predictability to your advantage.

Disadvantages of the triple threat position

It is very common for basketball coaches to teach players to assume the triple threat position immediately after receiving a pass. Of course, this won’t apply if you play in the post with your back to the basket, but this is the action for perimeter players (guards and wings).

However, basketball coach Vic Pruden argues against always getting into the triple threat stance because it disrupts the flow of play and leads to dead time. He believes that players should play all the time and immediately pass, shoot or start a dribble.

There is certainly some truth to this. In the NBA, for example, it is common to see players take valuable seconds off the shot clock to get into the 3T position and prepare for their next move. By comparison, European competition generally sees less inefficient stop-and-go basketball and a more fluid game.

Do you agree with Coach Vic? Let us know in the comments below!

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