Why do Basketball Players Let the Ball Roll? 4 Reasons

You’re sitting in front of an NBA game, and you see one player roll the ball down the court. If you’re new to the sport, this move can be confusing. However, take note that rolling the ball is legal in basketball if done properly. With that in mind, why do basketball players let the ball roll?

Basketball players roll the ball for various reasons, including at the last few seconds of a quarter or to buy more time. This move can provoke defenders as the ball can be easier to grab than on other occasions. On the positive side, rolling the ball can give other teammates in the court more time to act out plays.

Ball rolling in basketball looks like a straightforward act. But this seemingly simple move can have deep meanings. Check out the rest of the article to know more about this topic.

basketball players ball roll

As it stands, nothing in the official rules of basketball states that rolling the ball down the court is illegal. Nonetheless, players need to pay attention as doing this move can have significant repercussions. After all, basketball isn’t only a physical sport as strategy is also a vital element to win games.

One such strategy is to buy more time, particularly when a team has more points. For example, if Team A has more points than Team B, Team A would want to stay ahead of the game until the timer for the entire match runs out.

It’s also for that reason that you can see some point guards roll the ball behind the backcourt before moving to the other side of the court. This time-wasting activity can make opposing teams frustrated, particularly if those opponents are behind on points.

On the downside, rolling the ball without thinking about the current situation of the court can lead to trouble. Since this move is easy to do, defending players can also snatch the ball away easily. Players still need to keep a close eye on the ball as it rolls. Otherwise, those efforts of stalling the clock would be in vain.

However, rolling the ball improperly can lead to a foul. Improper ball-rolling violations exist on both the official NBA and FIBA guidelines.

Reasons Why Basketball Players Roll the Ball

Now that you know that basketball rolling is legal, keep in mind that players roll the ball for different reasons.

During a Close Match

close match

It’s almost the end of the quarter and the score is tied 50-50. Both teams have players that already seem tuckered out. Thus, one player decides to roll the ball to save energy and hope for overtime instead of winning soon.

Close fights are common occurrences in basketball. Take the longest basketball game in history as an excellent example because it took 78 minutes to complete. US teams Indiana Olympians and Rochester Royals kept having identical scores by the time the clock struck zero. It turned to be a six-overtime game with both teams having players completely exhausted by the end of the match.

But if one team has the advantage, there’s no point in stalling for overtime. Instead, the ball-rolling action allows the winning team to give more time for its players to control the ball. In turn, it gives added pressure to the losing team, provoking them to make more mistakes than intended.

During the Last Seconds of a Match

last seconds basketball match

Every basketball match has a beginning and an end, and the team with more points needs to keep its advantage before the clock strikes zero. But the opposing team might only be a few points behind to snatch victory from utter defeat.

At this point, ball rolling becomes a viable strategy. It’s because the clock will stop running while the ball is rolling. Basketball players aiming for a half- or full-court shot after grabbing the ball will enjoy a few precious moments of the clock freezing. It’s the team’s last chance of winning, and some occasions in basketball history allowed teams to win by shooting from halfway across the court.

Save Precious Seconds

save seconds

Basketball players can also roll the ball to save crucial seconds. That way, the player controlling the ball can take advantage of each second in the 24-second shot clock. It’s for this reason that you’ll see many athletes roll the ball near the beginning and end of quarters.

Show Respect

show respect

Sometimes a basketball team will have a significant lead, and it’s clear that said team will be going home as the victor. For example, Team A has an overpowering lead of 40 points over Team B, and it’s the last quarter of the match. A player from Team A will roll the ball to waste time for Team B.

To some people, this move will look disrespectful. But if both teams will still try their best to duke it out until the game’s final moments, rolling the ball will, in turn, become a sign of decency and respect.

How do You Roll the Ball in Basketball?

roll ball basketball

As mentioned previously, a right and wrong way exists to roll the ball in basketball. If you’re the person passing the ball, ensure that no defending players are nearby. Then, throw the ball gently, allowing it to roll. Signal to the point guard to mention that the ball is coming their way.

On the other hand, if you’re the ball handler, again, make sure that no defending players are nearby. Keep a keen eye on the ball and wait for your teammate’s signal. Put your body and hands in a position to catch the rolling ball so you can grab onto it effortlessly. Also, pay attention to your surroundings as opponents can and will notice what you’re trying to do.

What Does Walk the Dog Mean in Basketball?

Walk the dog in basketball

Walking the dog is a slang in basketball that shows the current controller to roll the ball, attempting to save as much time as possible. The controller moves the ball slowly, guarding it at the same time, to stall the shot clock.

Here’s a clip of LeBron James walking the dog after receiving the ball.

Final Words

Basketball players let the ball roll to save time, aim for a winning shot, or show respect to opposing teams. Rolling the ball isn’t an illegal move. However, if done incorrectly, players can receive fouls. For more information about basketball moves, tips, tricks, and other articles about this sport, don’t forget to check out Make-Shots.

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Aaron Jones

Aaron Jones

My name is Aaron and I am the owner of Make Shots. On this site, I discuss the most frequently asked basketball questions and give my opinions. My love for basketball started in 2010 and ever since I have fallen in love with the sport.
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