What Is the Triple Threat Position in Basketball?

College basketball player gets into the triple threat position past the three point line.

Learning to be a more aggressive, effective and unpredictable offensive player in basketball takes many years of practice. Nothing is more important to your success on offense than your ability to master the triple threat position.

So, what is the triple threat position in basketball?

The triple threat position gives you the option to shoot, dribble or pass the basketball. To get into the position you need to hold the ball between your shoulder and knee with your elbows out. Both hands should be kept on the basketball and your body should be used to protect it as well.

As we look at basketball today, the entire game is centered around offense as players become bigger, stronger and more polished scorers.

To help you keep up with other players today, we’re here to help you understand the triple threat position — including how to get in the position, what you can do once in the position and how to defend against it.

How to Get in the Triple Threat Position in Basketball

Professional basketball player in the triple threat position.

There are two things you need to master before utilizing the triple threat to its full potential — technique and mindset.

Each one is equally important when getting into the triple threat position, as well as deciding what to do once in the triple threat position.

First, let’s look at the technique behind the triple threat position. Keep in mind everyone’s technique will be unique but will have the same core principles that make it successful for each person.

Those core principles are:

  1. The ball needs to be held between your shoulder and knee.
  2. Your elbow needs to be behind the ball.
  3. Keep your off-hand on the ball at all times, both for protection and versatility.
  4. Use your body to shield the ball as well.
  5. Knees bent, back straight and eyes forward.
  6. Shift more weight towards the balls of your feet, as opposed to your heels.

The technique is important because it puts you in the position to do anything you need to do when on the offensive end.

It also allows you to protect the ball from the defender, making it more difficult for the defender to steal it from you.

Other than the technique, you’ll need to master the mindset behind the triple threat position. It’s simple to understand but becomes more difficult to implement when in a live game — so practice is important.

Let’s take a look at the core principles behind the mindset:

  1. Always look to shoot first, it helps keep the defender honest.
  2. Always have a ‘Plan B’ in case your shot isn’t there.
  3. If you pump fake and the defender jumps, you move to the open space.

When you touch the ball, you want the defender to think you’re shooting every time because it makes it more likely they’ll leave their feet.

When this happens, you can go with “Plan B” or you can take your space and dribble toward the basket.

To be successful in the triple threat position, you must be fearless and ready to capitalize on the mistakes of the defense.

Options When in the Triple Threat Position

Basketball player dribbles the ball out of the backcourt.

The triple threat position is extremely important when you have the ball because it puts you in the perfect position to do three things — pass, shoot or dribble.

Being in this position gives you the opportunity to do one of these three things, based on how the defense reacts.

We’re going to further break down how the triple threat position gives you the option to either pass, shoot or dribble, that way you can better understand the importance of this position in basketball.

Shooting the Basketball

We’ll discuss shooting the ball first because it’s the first thing you should think of doing once in the triple threat position.

If you don’t enter the position with the intention of shooting, it takes away the aspect of the triple threat attack — rendering it useless.

Even if you know you won’t have enough room to shoot the ball, you should look to pump fake the moment you receive the ball. This helps keep the defense honest because they’ll never know when you’re looking to shoot or not.

This gives you a helpful advantage when creating space on the offensive end. Instilling fear in defenders that you can shoot at any time is more important than you might think.

Dribbling the Basketball

The triple threat position doesn’t work if you don’t have the option to dribble. Because of this, it’s impossible to be in the triple threat position when holding the ball after you stop dribbling.

At that point, you only have two options instead of three — either pass or shoot.

When entering the triple threat position, shooting should be your priority. If that’s not there, look to dribble while you still have the option.

By dribbling into open space, other defenders will have to step up and guard you, freeing the floor up for your teammates.

Of course, you should always take the ball to the basket if you see an open lane — you should never give up that opportunity.

Passing the Basketball

Passing the ball should be your last priority when entering the triple threat position unless you see a play developing that’s difficult to pass up. You can think of passing as your backup plan to ‘Plan B’, or as your ‘Plan C.’

Passing the ball is a great option in the event you don’t have a dribble left. In these situations, you should consider dishing the ball out before the defense double-teams you.

Remember to always have your eyes ahead so you can read the floor quickly and accurately. When the right pass becomes available, take it and continue moving so the play can continue to develop.

Does the Triple Threat Position Work?

Basketball shown in the foreground with a game going on in the background.

The triple threat position works, but only for those that are willing to work at it. Many neglect practicing getting into the position and others neglect to practice what to do once in the position.

Either way, you’ll be less comfortable with the position when it’s game time if you don’t take it seriously in practice.

Having the ball between your knee and shoulder makes it difficult for the defender to reach the ball. Furthermore, having your elbow behind the ball makes it more difficult for the defender to swipe the ball away if they can reach it.

Bending your knees gives you the option to take a shot by squaring up the basket and jumping in one fluid motion.

Likewise, being on the balls of your feet allows you to move quickly and change direction easily if you need to dribble the ball.

It’s called the triple threat position for a reason and it’s because it makes you the perfect threat when on offense.

Once you effectively make the triple threat position a habit, all you’ll have to do is make the right decision whenever you touch the ball.

Defending Against the Triple Threat Position

To defend against the triple-threat position, you want to get into your defensive stance — the same one you should always be in. That means staying low, keeping your feet wide, maintaining a flat posture and keeping your arms up and active.

As a defender, you have to be ready for any of the three options the player with the ball chooses. If the offensive player is going up to shoot, be ready to block it.

If they’re going to dribble, be ready to close the gap. If they’re looking to pass the ball, be ready to tip it out of the way.

Another key to defending the triple threat position is knowing the opposing player you’re defending. You can assume they won’t be looking to shoot from beyond the three-point line if they don’t normally shoot from there.

If they go up for a pump fake near the three-point line, don’t bite on it. As important as the triple threat position is to the offense, knowing how to defend it is just as important to the defense.

When you can master both of these skills, you’ll be primed for a lot of success on the basketball court.

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Steven G.

My name is Steven and I love everything sports! I created this website to share my passion with all of you. Enjoy!

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