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Stealing The Ball

Strictly speaking, stealing can only happen when the ball handler moves while dribbling.  For stealers, you are trying to create a situation in which the ball handler pushes the ball in front to dribble past you.  So, stealers have to project himself differently.  You gotta leave or even create some weaknesses for your opponent to attack.  When he is convinced that he can easily storm by you, that is when you can steal.

What makes you a good stealer? 

Long arms: That goes without saying.  The longer your reach, the better you steal.

Timing: Good ball-handlers will only leave their basketball unprotected for a split second, you need that sense.

Low center of mass: Either you are the shorter players or you can bend down really low, when the dribbler pushes the ball forward, if your center of mass is low enough, you can suddenly squeeze between the ball-handler and the ball and use your back to take the impact.  The ball is then practically yours.

Judgment and determination: You must choose your time to steal carefully but once you decide to steal, you must go all out.

Stealing from the dribble

Players who like to show off their fancy ball handling skills are easy targets for you to exploit. When they pull off fancy moves, they are likely to leave the ball unprotected. But of course, you can easily look like a fool if you attempt to steal the ball recklessly.

Pay attention to those who dribble high and dribble it in front of their body. A good dribbler keep the dribbling distance at knee height and on the side of his body. Keep your left foot forward, for most dribblers are right handed.

Ball handlers who don't have much moves are also easy preys. If his moves get repetitive, you can anticipate where he will be going, and more importantly, where the ball will be landing. Merely place your hand on where the ball will be landing will deflect the ball away. Try to deflect it as near the ground as possible. If you deflect it near his hand, he can easily swipe it away. Even if you cannot collect the ball. It will make him think twice before driving in front of you again.

You should attempt a steal with your hand diagonal to him. For example, if he is dribble with his right hand, you should attempt to steal with your right hand. The reason is that even if he goes to his right, you can quickly move your body to your left as your momentum are going to the left as you swing your right hand. Also, it also poses a greater threat to him as he cannot drive to his left easily with your right hand forward.

There are mainly four moments that you can steal off a dribbler:

1) Dribbler in front of you: Sprang forward and swipe at the ball.  when the point guard is doing small crosses in front while scanning the court for open teammates.  Because he is scanning, he might be unaware of your intention to steal 

Getting Crossed-Up Risk (GCU risk): HIGH, good ball-handlers will just cross the ball back and you are done for.  In fact, this type of stealing is a big gamble. Use this way of stealing only as a surprise and only when one basket won't make much difference.

2) Ball beside you: When ball handler pushes the ball in front, lower your body as much as possible and spread your arms sideways as much as possible.  Reach for the ball and poke the ball away. 

Getting Crossed-Up Risk (GCU risk): MEDIUM, since you are just reaching without moving your legs much.  You can still recover

3) Dribbler beside you: When the dribbler has almost dribble past you, squeeze your body between the ball being pushed out and the dribbler's body

Getting Crossed-Up Risk (GCU risk): MEDIUM, you are maintaining body contact with the dribble to prevent him from advancing.  You can say this is the best way of stealing because you can almost 100% secure the possession of the ball should the steal is successful.  Yet, this steal is not applicable if the opposing dribbler bends lower or has a lower center of mass than the stealer.

1) Dribbler completely past you: Reach around the opponent and strip away the ball without wrapping your arms around your opponent.

Getting Crossed-Up Risk (GCU risk): DEAD You are practically crossed up already.  It's the very last hope to redeem yourself.  Yet, this can easy constitute a foul.

Stealing off the pass

Passing is one of the most vulnerable event a ball stealer can take advantage from because at that moment, no one's hands are guarding the ball.  Observe who initiates the offense. Stay low and hide your body from your passer. When they pass, quickly reach out and deflect, or catch the ball.

Those who telegraph their pass are easy targets. The same goes for prolonged eye contact.  Also, some people tend to have a favorite pass receiver.  When no one is open, some players tend to pass to one person most of the time.  Hence, a tight defense can create a situation for anticipation.

To go one step further, let your dribble penetrate and suddenly double team him by closing down all his passing angles except to one of his teammate.  Naturally, the penetrating guard  will pass to the seemingly open teammate.  This is when you reach out from nowhere to catch the ball. This is especially useful against guards that likes to take flight as soon as they got past their defense.  Important: stealing off the pass is not a single player's effort

Don't leave yourself out of position. You need to make sure you can get to the ball if you go after it.  If your steal is successful, RUN FOREST RUN!!! Never turn back and just dribble for an easy lay up because 99% of the time, if you burst full steam ahead right after a steal, no one can get back in time.

Stealing off a post player

Low post players are usually bad at ball handling. When they catch their ball at low post, their standard move is back facing the board, drop step, then shoot. There are two instances where you can steal the ball.

Before he catches the ball, anticipate when his teammate is passing to him. Take advantage of post player's slow movement. Be on your toe and catch or deflect the ball away.

Post players have this bad habit of dribbling when they don't have to. Place your body close to his back. When he attempts to advance by pushing, his arm will naturally be closer to his body. This is your golden opportunity to reach your arm and deflect the ball away.

A word of advice, don't steal in front of low post players. Steve Nash tells you why:

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