The rules of the game state that you are not permitted to take steps on the court if you have the ball unless you are dribbling the ball. When you take possession of the ball from a pass or at the end of a dribbles the first foot to touch the floor is called the “pivot foot” which may not be moved whilst retaining possession. The other foot may move in any direction.
Pivoting is one of the first skills which must be learned. Beginning players have real difficulty managing defensive pressure until they learn how to pivot and protect the ball prior to making a pass or starting a dribble. Once they learn how to pivot the game comes much easier for them.
When teaching very young players, begin with the player standing with slightly flexed knees and feet about shoulder width apart. The player holds the ball at no lower than chest height and elbows slightly extended. He is then instructed to leave one foot on the floor while lowering his body down to a crouched position then taking three short steps in circular motion returning to the starting position. The drill is repeated several times, each time changing the pivot foot. The player is instructed to pivot in an anti clockwise direction when pivoting on the left foot and a clockwise direction when pivoting on the right foot. Each step should be taken with a quick aggressive movement, reminding the player to “protect” the ball, even though in this drill there is no defender. It is not unusual to see young players “pirouetting” instead of “pivoting” that is spinning around on one foot like a ballet dancer. This movement may be quickly corrected when the player is reminded to snap the foot into the floor on each of the three steps before returning to the starting position.
Once the player becomes familiar with the pivoting movement the next step is to do the same thing at the end of a dribble. The player is instructed to stop on his left foot if he dribbles with his right hand and to stop on his right foot if he is dribbling with his left hand. This is called a “stride stop” which is the most common way of stopping at the end of a dribble. However the player jumps in the air to receive a pass. He may land on both feet simultaneously and in this vase he may choose either foot to be the pivot foot. This is called a “jump stop”.