Footwork on the Catch: Creating an Advantage

By Jordan Petersen

Footwork is a very fundamental basketball skill, but it can turn an average offensive player into a dangerous one.

Whether 10 years old or 20, footwork is a key fundamental to a player’s overall game. Proper footwork can help a player gain an advantage, create spacing, draw fouls, and prevent travels and other types of turnovers. Footwork is the foundation of everything a player does on a court, from post ups to shooting to pivoting and even when catching the basketball. When you look at the greats like Kobe, Olajuwon, Ray Allen and many others, footwork helped separate them from others.

Oftentimes, the simple act of catching a basketball is where a lot of mistakes happen. Properly teaching players the footwork to use when catching the ball can help them develop a much more versatile, and dangerous, offensive game. Three different types of footwork on the catch will be discussed to help players cut down on turnovers and create greater advantages.

Perfect Catch

Whether you are a coach who emphasizes the quick hop or 1-2 step into a shot, the perfect catch can still be emphasized. A perfect catch allows a player to be able to immediately go into a shot, shot fake, drive, jab step or pass.


  • Ball in the air, feet in the air
  • Pop the ball on the catch (this helps emphasize catching the basketball first)
  • Feet are on the floor as ball is caught
  • Eyes are middle/on the rim

A drill to emphasize perfect catches is Arc Shooting shown below. Perfect catch shown at 0:04 in video.


1 starts with the basketball. The ball is passed from 1 to 2 to 3 and 4. On each catch, shot prep is emphasized and players are shot faking before passing. When 4 receives the pass they shoot the basketball and get the rebound and go to the end of the line. The players follow there pass, so they are in a new spot. Players must talk throughout saying one more to get the pass and saying the name of the person they are passing to. This time when 3 receives the pass they drive to the basket and stride stop/jump stop. On the jump stop, 4 fills up behind and receives the pass and shoots.

Split Catch

Split catch is an explosive way for a player to get down hill or to continue his/her momentum into a drive. It is exactly what it sounds like. As a player is receiving a pass and reads drive, the player splits there feet to get into a running/sprinter stance to explode as soon as they receive the pass.


  • Ball in the air, feet in the air
  • Split feet in the air and load legs for explosiveness
  • Rip the basketball

Drill to rep Split Catches below. Split catch shown at 1:04 in video.


Player 1 start in front of x1. Game begins on player 1 movement. Player 1 sprints around the cone and receives a pass in a split stance. x1 must go around cone as well.

Crossover Step Catch

A crossover step occurs when the direct path of a split catch is taken away, or a defender takes away the direction the player is likely to go. A crossover step is another explosive movement to get the offensive player going down hill quickly.


  • Ball in the air, feet in the air
  • Can be done off of a perfect catch or split catch
  • Pivot off of foot furthest from the defender
  • Cross step with foot closest to the defender

Drill to rep Crossover Step Catches below. Crossover step catch show at 1:43 in video.


Player 1 starts in the corner. X1 starts on the block. A cone is placed at the slot. Game begins on player 1 movement. Player 1 sprints to the slot and receives the pass and performs a crossover step to begin driving. X1 sprints to touch the cone before playing defense. X1 cannot steal the pass.

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Jordan Petersen is a former collegiate player and coach. He currently runs Positionless Basketball, which provides elite level basketball training and camps for youth players all the way to college and professional. It's mission is to provide student-athletes with a unique experience that develops players' minds and athletic performance.
December 29, 2017 – Newark, New Jersey, U.S. – Creighton’s guard Khyri Thomas (2) looks to make a play as Seton Hall’s guard Khadeen Carrington (00) defends in the first half during NCAA action between the Seton Hall Pirates and the Creighton Bluejays at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. Seton Hall defeated Creighton 90-84. Duncan Williams/CSM(Credit Image: © Duncan Williams/CSM via ZUMA Wire)

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