I heard that while dribbling the ball, if the ball rises above shoulder level then it is a turnover. I don't have any idea about this rule.

  • 2
    which league? not sure if this differs, but there are at least 3 primary rule sets used in the US, and international rules are different as well.
    – wax eagle
    Apr 13, 2012 at 12:08
  • Dribbling above shoulder height is a turnover because it's an easy steal for the other player.
    – Mark
    Feb 4, 2018 at 19:10

5 Answers 5


I searched the NBA Rules and the FIBA Rules, but couldn't find anything that explicitly states you cannot dribble above your shoulder.

My personal opinion is that it's not an infraction. When you see infractions called because someone dribbles high it's mainly because they "carry" the ball (putting your hand on the bottom hemisphere of the ball while dribbling), or somehow stop the motion of the ball during the normal dribbling process.


I searched the USA Basketball Website

I did see an article titled "7 Basketball Rules Myths":

In the article #2 explains

  1. A dribble that bounces above the dribbler's head is an illegal dribble violation.

    Reality: There is no restriction as to how high a player may bounce the ball, provided the ball does not come to rest in the player's hand.

So I would say dribbling the ball above shoulder height is legal

  • Exactly. This is common knowledge to any basketball fan. It blows my mind that the hitherto top-voted answer here gives credence to the myth. Goes to show that this site is hardly attracting sports "experts". See e.g. this compilation of Rondo tip-off dribbling. He repeatedly commits this mythical "offence", e.g. at 1:18, 2:16, 2:25.
    – user3564
    Jun 16, 2015 at 20:22
  • 0:27 to 1:57 of this YouTube video also has a compilation of unusually high (but not illegal) dribbling in the NBA.
    – user3564
    Jun 16, 2015 at 20:31

You can dribble as high as you want to dribble as long as your hand stays on top of the basketball. If your hand ends up on the bottom of the basketball it is a carry and the opposing team is awarded the basketball.


"Palming" the ball is illegal...but no ref will call it.

Players like Junior Bridgeman and Darrel Griffith had hands so small that the only way they could dunk the ball was to "carry it" on their upturned palms then turn their hand over once they got to the rim. Griff was called Dr. Dunkenstein when he was still at Lousiville as he dunked the ball consistently. I knew Griff in Utah and we measured hands...my fingers were at least 3 inches longer than his! Remarkable!

So yeah.."dribbling the ball is illegal" as it requires one to carry or palm the ball. But then traveling and 3 seconds in the lane, rolling picks, any foul by MJ was NEVER called either.

  • This answer could be improved by the addition of an external source. Nov 3, 2015 at 12:40


A carry violation consist of...

1.Dribbling the ball over your shoulder. If you dribble above shoulder height u must let the ball come back down below shoulder height before touching it again.

2.When you place your palm under the ball in a hesitation attempt or pass attempt and then resume dribbling the ball.

  • 2
    Please provide a reference to a rulebook to support these assertions; YouTube videos do not define the rules of basketball.
    – Philip Kendall
    Jan 12, 2016 at 18:15

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