Basketball Dribble Hand Off

Learn About DHO: The Unsung Hero of Basketball Offense

Author: Pratik Ghadge

The Dribble Hand Off (DHO) is a dynamic basketball maneuver that has gained prominence in modern gameplay. At its core, the DHO is an offensive tactic where one player dribbles towards a teammate and seamlessly hands off the ball. This not only facilitates fluid ball movement but also strategically positions players to outmaneuver defenders. As teams increasingly adopt this tactic, understanding its nuances becomes essential for both players and enthusiasts aiming to decode the intricacies of the game.

Understanding DHO in Basketball

The term "DHO" in basketball parlance stands for "Dribble Hand Off." It's not just a mere pass; it's a strategic move designed to open up the floor and create scoring opportunities.

Effectiveness of the DHO

The true power of the DHO is its unpredictability. When executed to perfection, the player handing off the ball doubles as an immediate screen for the receiver. This simultaneous action of passing and screening can throw off defensive schemes, making it a challenge for opponents to anticipate the next move.

Strategic Implementation of DHO

Teams deploy DHOs in various scenarios to maximize their offensive potential:

  • Creating Motion: Ensuring players are in constant motion, challenging their markers.
  • Attacking Downhill: The receiver, after getting the ball, can swiftly drive towards the basket, exerting pressure on the defense.
  • Creating Mismatches: Defensive switches during a DHO can lead to favorable matchups for the offense.
  • Freeing Up Players: For those under tight defense, a DHO offers a brief window to break free and get into a better position.

DHO in Action


DHO pass in Basketball


Several teams have masterfully integrated DHO into their gameplay. A prime example is the duo of Nikola Jokic and Gary Harris. Their seamless dribble handoffs, coupled with effective screens, have often left defenders scrambling, showcasing the potential of a well-executed DHO. This tactic's fluidity ensures it remains a favorite among many basketball teams.

Teaching the Dribble Hand-Off

The Dribble Hand Off (DHO) is a nuanced basketball tactic that requires precision and understanding between teammates. When teaching this move, it's essential to emphasize the fundamentals.

Common Mistakes and Solutions

  • Spacing Issues: One of the most common mistakes is allowing too much space between the passer and the receiver. This gap can give defenders an opportunity to intercept. To avoid this, players should maintain close proximity during the handoff.
  • Lack of Control: The passer must remain controlled. Rushing the move can lead to moving screens or offensive fouls. Practicing the motion slowly and gradually increasing the speed can help in mastering control.

Tips for Effective DHO Execution

For the Passer:

  • Dribble Towards the Defender: This action ensures the defender is engaged, making the subsequent screen more effective.
  • Clean Handoff: The passer should ensure a smooth transfer, treating it as a short pass.

For the Receiver:

  • Set Up the Defender: Just like setting up before using screens, the receiver should engage their defender before the DHO.
  • Minimize Space: The receiver should be close to the passer, ensuring defenders can't easily intercept.

Defending the DHO

Understanding how to execute a DHO is half the battle in basketball's defensive strategy; knowing how to defend against it is equally crucial.

Defensive Strategies

  • Switching: The simplest method, where defenders swap assignments during the handoff. This can, however, lead to mismatches.
  • Going Under: Useful against non-shooters, the defender goes underneath the player setting the DHO, giving up a potential shot but preventing a drive.
  • Going Over: Against strong shooters, the defender goes over the top of the DHO, risking a potential drive but contesting a shot.

Dribble Hand Off Counters

A well-prepared offense has counters for defensive tactics against the DHO.

  • Backdoor Cut: Effective against overplaying defenders, the receiver cuts to the basket instead of receiving the handoff.
  • Re-Screen: After the initial DHO, the passer sets another screen, allowing the receiver to change direction and attack.
  • Fake Handoffs: The passer fakes the handoff and drives to the basket, catching the defense off-guard.

DHO vs. Traditional Passes

At first glance, the DHO might seem like just another pass, but it's distinct from traditional methods. Unlike the overhead, bounce, or chest passes, the DHO involves both a pass and a screen, often with minimal spacing between players. Traditional passes emphasize distance and angles, while the DHO focuses on proximity and misdirection. The DHO's unique blend of passing and screening makes it a versatile tool, differentiating it from other passing techniques in basketball.

Is the DHO an Effective Tactic?

The Dribble Hand Off (DHO) has established itself as a highly effective tactic in modern basketball, offering several advantages that make it a valuable addition to a team's offensive arsenal.

Benefits of DHO

One of the primary benefits of the DHO is its ability to free up offensive players from intense defensive pressure. When executed correctly, it can create separation between the receiver and their defender, providing the recipient with a brief window of opportunity. Additionally, the DHO is particularly advantageous for shooters. It allows sharpshooters to gain precious moments of freedom, enabling them to set up for clean looks at the basket. Players like Reggie Miller, Steph Curry, and Klay Thompson, renowned for their perimeter shooting, often rely on DHOs to create the space they need to release their shots.

How do You Defend against the DHO?

Defending against the DHO requires basketball defense skills and a strategic approach, akin to defending against on-ball screens. Teams facing opponents proficient in DHOs must consider various defensive strategies.

Comparing DHO to On-Ball Screens

The DHO shares similarities with on-ball screens, as both involve a player setting up their teammate for an advantageous offensive situation. However, the key difference is in the execution. While an on-ball screen is stationary, the DHO incorporates movement. Defenders guarding a DHO must be prepared for this dynamic shift in play.

Defensive Strategies Against DHO

Teams can employ several defensive strategies when facing a DHO. These strategies include:

  • Switching: Players guarding the passer and the receiver switch assignments, potentially creating mismatches.
  • Hedging: The defending player guarding the passer steps out to block the receiver's path briefly, allowing the original defender time to recover.
  • Overplaying: In an attempt to deny the handoff, the defender leans towards overplaying the receiver, risking a backdoor cut or other counters.

How do You Counter Against Dribble Handoff Defensive Schemes?

Offensive teams can anticipate and counteract defensive schemes against DHOs through strategic maneuvers.

  • Re-Screen Action: After the initial DHO, the passer can set another screen for the receiver, enabling them to change direction and attack.
  • Fake Handoff: Players can deceive the defense by mimicking a handoff and then swiftly driving to the basket, exploiting the defender's anticipation.
  • Backdoor Cuts: When defenders overplay the DHO, the receiver can make a backdoor cut to the basket, capitalizing on the defender's positioning.

When Should Players Learn the DHO?

Introducing the DHO to players should align with their skill development and comprehension of basketball fundamentals. Generally, it's advisable to introduce the DHO when players reach middle school age (around 12 to 14 years old). By this stage, they typically have a solid grasp of fundamental passes, dribbling, shooting, and defensive concepts, making it an appropriate time to delve into the more intricate aspects of the game.

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Final Thoughts

To conclude, the Dribble Hand Off (DHO) is a dynamic and effective tactic in basketball. It provides numerous benefits such as freeing up shooters and creating offensive opportunities. However, defending against it requires strategic planning, and teams must employ counters to counteract defensive schemes. Introducing the DHO to players should align with their skill development, typically in middle school, ensuring they can leverage this versatile tactic effectively.

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