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The Swipe Steal

Updated: Oct 10, 2022

The Swipe Steal is a steal technique used primarily near the rim to dislodge an exposed ball. Best used by containment defenders who find themselves in front of players even as they drive to the basket. This is a tool to make a defensive player at the rim for non-shoot blocking players.

It works because offensive player generally pickup the ball in the same location on their finishes and expose it to the defense. Rarely do offensive players work on protective pickups. And even if the swipe misses, the movement of protecting the ball can be enough to cause the offensive player to miss the layup as well.


The number one key to make sure this doesn’t becoming a foul drawing technique is for defenders to aim for gracing the front of the ball. The more they aim for the center of the ball the more they will get into the arms of the offensive player when they extend. The goal is to just grace and dislodge the front of the ball. That being said, there is always the risk of officials making a call based on the visual action and not the contact - especially at lower levels.

The Swipe Steal is a staple for Andre Iguodala’s defense. He uses it often against Lebron James - staying in front and backing up on drive attempts until the pickup happens. Iggy also loves to use it at various other moments when the ball is exposed: spin backs and post dumps.


It is also important to understand that the attempt will not always work. Hopefully the swipe has caused an uncommon movement by the offense but the defender should still make a play to contest. If the swipe misses, immediately raise and contest with the other hand.

Once again, steal techniques should only be used by great defenders and they must always understand the risk of drawing a foul - even on a clean steal. But defensive development is important for our talented defenders and to keep pushing them and adding to their game.

See you next time.


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