What Is a Carry in Basketball?

Are you new to basketball and have some questions? Do you want to know what is a carry in basketball?

A carry occurs when a player rests his hand below the ball, causing the ball to stop moving temporarily. In addition, the ball’s trajectory may change before dribbling again. As a result, basketball rules prohibit carrying. 

The player commits the carry violation during some basketball moves before the action is performed.

According to some referees, these violations will not affect the result of the match. So, there may not be many carrying violations in college and NBA games.

Moreover, sometimes it happens that referees cannot catch players who commit breaches because of the game’s pace. It is also possible for the referees to miss a carry because of their vertical angles. Keep reading to know about the carry violation in depth.

Is It a Carry to Dribble the Basketball High?

We often hear players argue or are caught up in a debate about high dribbles. You can notice the difference between a carry and a high dribble if you are a regular fan of the game. However, if you aren’t well-acquainted with the game’s rules, let us enlighten you.

A high dribble is when one dribbles the ball above their head. In many situations, when a player dribbles the ball above his shoulders or head, players - especially older ones - will call it a carry.


So, what does it mean if someone dribbles a ball high? The ball’s height is not crucial in a carry, but the dribbler’s hand positioning is. So, as long as you dribble the ball with your palm facing down, it does not matter how high you dribble it. 

To dribble high, the dribbler must keep his hand above the ball. The dribbler must stop the ball’s natural trajectory with his hand for a high dribble to qualify as a carry.

The same can also happen when a player maintains control by placing his hand below the ball. In these cases, it is a carry since the dribbler can also place his hand below to stop the ball. 

How Can You Identify Carry Moves in Basketball?

Often enough, it happens so that players perform questionably confusing moves. NBA players often display tricks that make us yell, “carry!” as fans.

Here are a few moves that can often be considered carrying or can actually be carried if performed improperly.

  • Shot Fakes

When the ball is being dribbled and a fake shot is used, it can confuse your opponent. Your opponent is fooled into thinking you will shoot the ball.

The result is that the dribbler gets his opponent off balance just enough to drive past him.


When the dribbler performs a fake shot, they fake picking up the ball with both hands. If the dribbler does not do this carefully, the ball may end up palmed with the dribbling hand, which is considered a carry violation.

  • Crossover

Many crossovers appear to have violations. Allen Iverson’s crossover, which is often considered to be a carry, is one of the most controversial crossovers.

Dribblers can use crossovers to confuse their opponents. Moreover, the dribbler may palm the ball to change its direction if he does not execute the crossover effectively.

  • Hesitation Dribble

A hesitation dribble is another technique to trick defenders into thinking something will happen.

During this time, the dribbler has completely different plans. With the hesitation move, the ball handler can freeze at the defender to dribble by him.

While on the run, a dribbler performs a dribble hesitation move by slowing down his dribble considerably, almost to a complete stop. When the defender freezes, the dribbler still has control over his dribble so that he can go around him.

Who Is the Legend of Crossovers?

Allen Iverson is one of the best players in basketball history. In his rookie season of 1997, he became a star, overtaking Michael Jordan. Often, people believe his crossover is a carry in basketball because the move is confusing yet amazing.

A crossover from Iverson is an extensive but fast and exaggerated move. It moves from left to right, and his defense blows it away. Iverson takes the credit as the inventor of the crossover move. He personally feels these upgrades are vital to his playing and competitiveness.

When a player commits a violation, it will be up to the referee to determine whether it has occurred.

This unique dribbling technique still faces many controversies and conflicting opinions. Nevertheless, NBA rules prohibit any form of carrying, and even Iverson himself has previously admitted that his crossover was illegal.

Despite this, he is famous for that skill and currently stands tall in the Hall of Fame.

What is the Difference Between Traveling and Carrying?

Some people consider carrying to be a form of travel. This is true because you may move your pivot after the ball comes to a stop.

Travel violations occur when players place their palms below the ball while moving one or both of their feet. In contrast, carry violations occur when players put their hand below the ball while dribbling.

The ball will stop or change direction as a result of this motion.


Photo Credit: Jack Kapenstein

A player is considered traveling during a basketball game when he takes more than two steps after gathering the ball.

Carry rules emphasize the location of the hand, whereas travel rules emphasize the movement of feet. Playing the game more often will make you practice some of these rules. 

Is Carrying and Double Dribble the Same Thing?

A player who double dribbles does so after stopping and starting their dribble with one or both hands. The referee might call out the player for a double dribble violation if he takes up his dribble and then starts another. In some ways, that is similar to a carry violation.

It is technically a carry violation when the dribbler stops the ball with his hand below it, then resumes dribbling. In other words, it is a double dribble.

There is also the possibility of a carry if the ball does not stop completely. However, the player can only change the ball’s natural direction by using his hand.

In this case, a player must carry the ball from point A to point B and then dribble the ball again. It is a simple trick to perform if you have played the game for long. 

What Is the Best Way to Dribble Without Carrying?

It seems that dribbling the ball without carrying it is becoming extinct. You should keep your hands to the top or the side of the ball if you want to dribble the ball without being tagged with a carry violation.

Your palms should face down in most cases while you dribble. You may have trouble executing moves like crossovers and shot fakes if you do not carry the ball while dribbling.

Nevertheless, players can master the moves without practicing a carry violation. It is always good to know all the rules when playing basketball. Many players often fall for the carry violation because they assume the referee is not watching. 

Here are some weighted gloves that help improve dribbling skills.

Final Thoughts: Carry Basketball

Carry violations occur when players place their hands under the ball, causing it to stop moving. You’ll most likely see this error when watching young or amateur matches because the players aren’t entirely familiar with the basketball rules. 

Professional leagues like the NBA are notorious for not having the carry violation. The players are professionals at dribbling here, and they can cover the referee’s eyes by dribbling in a few tricks.

We hope you have gained new knowledge about basketball after reading this article.

Joshua Bast

My name is Joshua Bast and I have been playing basketball ever since I was 7 years old. I love the game play, I love the feeling whenever I score a basket, but what made me fell in love was the camaraderie with my team mates. This blog is dedicated to help any up-and-coming basketball players maximize their potential.

Joshua Bast