What is a DHO in Basketball? (Dribble Hand Off Explained)


If you're watching a basketball game on TV, you may hear an analyst talking about a DHO.

A "DHO" is an abbreviation for "dribble hand off."

A popular offensive concept used at all levels of the game.

But when should a dribble hand off be used? And is it actually effective?

Let's dive into these questions below:

What is a DHO in Basketball?

The DHO or "dribble hand off" is an offensive tactic that involves one player literally handing the basketball off to a teammate.

This action is effective because the player handing the ball off acts as an immediate screener.

When executing a DHO, there should be almost no space between the two players.

That way, if the receiver uses the dribble hand off correctly, it will be difficult for the receiver's defender to keep good guarding position as they'll have to navigate the screen.

So in a sense, a DHO is similar to a ball screen.

The passer turns into a screener and can roll to the hoop, pop out, or move to another area of the floor just like they would in a traditional pick-and-roll.


When to Use a Dribble Hand Off

DHOs are typically executed outside of the paint to maintain good offensive spacing.

Teams can use DHOs to:

1. Create motion - Dribble handoffs can create an advantage that will help generate movement and motion in your offense.

2. Attack downhill - The player receiving the ball can turn the corner and attack the hoop, which puts a lot of pressure on the help defenders.

3. Create mismatches - Just like in a regular pick-and-roll, sometimes teams will switch on DHOs which will create a mismatch that smart offensive players can exploit.

4. Free a player from a defender - If you have a player who is being face-guarded by the opposition, using a DHO to free them up can be an effective tactic.

Dribble Hand Off Examples:

The DHO is incredibly effective when used correctly.

Here are a few examples of teams using the dribble hand off to create open shots:

And in the video below this, you can see other ways a DHO can be effective:

Teaching the Dribble Hand Off

First, it's important to note that there is a lot of room for error in dribble hand offs.

Here are a few things that can go wrong:

1. Moving screens - If the passer hands the ball off and then keeps moving into a screen, an illegal screen can be called and result in a turnover.

2. Too much space - If there is too much space between the passer and the player receiving the handoff, a defender can get in between and steal the ball.

3. Bad handoffs - The passing player can throw the ball too hard, behind the player, or make other errant passes which can all lead to turnovers and fast breaks on the other end.

To ensure the above scenarios don’t happen, DHOs needs to be practiced regularly.

Tips for the Passer:

Stay under control - If the passer doesn’t remain under control, that’s when moving screens and offensive fouls can happen.

Dribble at the defender - The passer should dribble at the player he is going to be ‘screening.’

Make a clean handoff - A hand off is a short pass (hence the name hand off), so the passer needs to ensure that he’s making a clean handoff to the player receiving the ball.

Tips for the Receiver:

Set your man up - Just as players set their cuts up before using screens, the player receiving the ball should set his man up, as well.

Allow minimal space - The player receiving the ball needs to ensure that there is virtually no space between he and the passer so the defense can’t get in the middle and get a steal.

Read the defense - As the player receives the ball, he’ll have to see what the defense is doing to know how to attack. Below, we’ll talk about how defenses guard DHOs.

It will take repetition and practice for players to get good at executing dribble hand offs, and small-sided games are a great way to work on them.


How to Defend the DHO

Perhaps you landed on this article not to learn how to execute a DHO...

But to learn how to defend the action when opposition teams run it against you.

The way the defense guards a DHO will dictate what advantages the offense gets out of the action, so it's important to weigh up the tradeoffs and decide what you want your team to do.

Here are a few options to guard a dribble hand off:

a. Switch

This is typically the simplest way to guard a dribble hand off.

The players guarding the passer and the player receiving the ball will switch.

The tradeoff -- This option will create mismatches.


b. Go Under

The defender guarding the player receiving the pass will go underneath the passer.

This action is often used if the receiver isn't considered much of a shooting threat.

The tradeoff -- The receiver will have an open shot.


c. Go Over

The defender guarding the player receiving the pass will go over the passer.

This action is used if the defense is worried about a player being a good shooter.

The tradeoff -- The receiver will have an open lane to the hoop.


Dribble Hand Off Counters

Teams that plan to run a lot of DHOs on offense should have multiple "counters" and variations ready to keep the defense on their toes.

These counters include:

a. Backdoor Cut

When the defense overplays the receiver and attempts to prevent the handoff, the receiver can cut backdoor towards the basket and receive the pass.


b. Re-Screen

As soon as the handoff occurs, the player who passed the ball can set another ball screen so the ball-handler can attack in the opposite direction.

The re-screen is a good counter against teams who go under the DHO.


c. Fake Handoffs

The player who is in possession of the ball will dribble at their teammate as usual...

But instead of delivering them the ball, they will fake the handoff and quickly attack the hoop.

Sometimes the defense will "cheat" on the play to slow down the receiver, so a fake handoff and quick attack may lead to a wide open drive and score.



The dribble hand off in basketball is a widely used offensive tactic.

When ran correctly, the DHO can be very effective as it also acts as a screen.

If you plan to add them to your offense, make sure to practice against the different ways to defend a DHO, and also make sure your players understand the different counters.


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