Skate dribbling is most commonly used when a ball handler comes off a ball screen and can’t turn the corner past the defender. The other usual application is when the ball handler attacks the basket and their defender stops them. In both cases, the skate dribble buys the offensive player time to make their next play, keeping them a primary threat with the basketball. And isn’t that what basketball is all about?
We see skate dribbles a lot from elite-level dribblers (click to read an article on 7 Common Traits in Elite Level Dribbling) as they exhaust all possibilities to remain a threat on offense. It is key for you to practice these dribbles because they are great tools for you to use to confuse your defenders. When initially executed, your defender will assume a downhill attack from you and back up. This gives you space and time to raise up and shoot. Since you have now proven to your defender that you can shoot, the next time you use your skate dribble, the defender is likely to play you closer as they are expecting a shot. Now you can surprise them once again by driving to either side of them (which side depends on which way they are angled). This gives you space and time to attack the basket.
Going forward, when you use your skate dribbles, the defender will not know how to play you since you have shown you can shoot or attack. This is the point…you become known as a dual threat on offense and defenses/coaches give you the respect for which you worked.
My acronym on how to master the skate dribble is SOME (Stationary, On, Move, Enactment). First, you must learn how to skate dribble stationary and slowly so you can learn the feel, control, and purpose of the move. Once you master these concepts, you implement your skate dribbles on the move in a 1 on 0 drill where you add finishes, jump shots, and other next play progressions. The final step is enactment, where you implement the skate dribbles with a partner or use time to create a game-like sense of urgency. Creating this sense of urgency in practice pushes you to skate dribble more quickly. In games, this then translates to you implementing the proper skate dribbles at the correct times because you are mentally calm and physically familiar with the moves.