How to Improve Your Ball Handling – Basic Guide
If you are new or newer to the game of basketball you should first check out the before you dribble item. Dribbling is obviously a vital part of basketball. If you do not believe me, try playing a game of "ultimate basketball". This is played by implementing rules of ultimate Frisbee into a game of 5 on 5 full court basketball. You are not allowed to dribble the ball at all, only pass, pivot, and shoot. It is discovered very quickly how tough it is to advance the basketball or even get into a scoring position.
The secret weapon to developing dribbling skill is … practice. However there are some basic building blocks every player should be aware of.
Heads up: The aim should be never look at the ball while dribbling. The head should be up and surveying the floor, eyes focused on the defender, teams, and the basket.
Ready to attack: When handling the ball a player's stance will vary based on the situation at any given time. The basic stance however should be a stance where the player feels balanced and can easily stop, have a burst of speed, or change direction. The player should have a bend in both the knees and hips.
Finger tips (and pads): The ball should touch only your fingertips and finger pads (finger pads are the area on your finger just below the fingertips)
Off-arm: The arm that is not currently being used to dribble can be used to protect the ball from defenders.
Body as a shield: The body can be used as a shield to keep a defender between you and the ball. As a general rule, assuring your body is always in the middle does this. For example, if the defender is on your right side as you dribble down the court, you should be dribbling the ball in your right hand, this place your body between you and the defender.
Keep it low: Situations will always vary which may require different heights at which you dribble, however, as a general rule, it makes sense to keep the dribble as low as possible. This leaves less chance for error, and gives the defender less opportunity to make a steal.
These guidelines are the very basic building blocks of developing strong dribbling skills. See the various ball handling drills in the ball handling section to find out how to start improving and refining your ball handling ability.
Ball Handling drills:
Tap Drill – overhead, face, knees
Stand straight up with feet shoulder width apart, hold the basketball over your head with arms almost completely extended (elbows bent slowly). Quickly tap the ball back and forth from one hand to the other using only your fingertips
Variations: Repeat drill with arms extended out straight in front of your face. Repeat bent slowly at waist (keep back straight) with arms extended down so that the ball is in front of your shins
Around the world: head, waist, knees
Stand straight up with feet shoulder width apart hold basketball in front of your face, move the ball in your right hand only around the back of your head, reach left hand back behind the head and pass the ball from the right hand to the left hand , wrap the ball back around with your left hand so it is again in front of your face, at this point pass the ball back to your right hand. Each time you go around your head it counts as one repetition.
Variations: Repeat drill going around your waist. Repeat drill by going around your legs at approximately shin height. Repeat drill going in the opposite direction
The corkscrew combines the three variations of the "Around the World" drill. To complete the corkscrew you do one rotation around your head, one around the waist, one around the legs, a second around the waist, and a second around the head.
Variations: Repeat going in the opposite direction
Around one leg
Standing with legs wider than shoulder width, knees bent, bent slightly at waist. Move the ball around one leg passing from one hand to the other.
Variations: 4 different variations performed. 1) Right hand around right leg clockwise 2) Right hand around right leg counterclockwise 3) Left hand around left leg clockwise 4) Left hand around left leg counter clockwise
Standing with legs wider than shoulder width, knees bent, bent slightly at waist. Move the ball around your legs in a figure 8 pattern (in through front of your legs with right hand, pass to left hand wrap around left leg with left hand, pass back through the front of your legs with left hand passing to right hand, wrap around right leg with right hand and pass back through front of legs to left hand)
Variations: Repeat in both directions. Repeat by doing one repetition in one direction, dropping the ball, then switching directions.
Standing with legs wider than shoulder width, knees bent, bent slightly at waist. Hold the ball with two hands between, but in front, of your legs. Toss (or hike) the ball back through your legs with both hands similar to a football player "hiking" the ball. As soon as you toss the ball, quickly move both hands behind you and catch the ball as it comes through the legs, quickly catch and toss back between your legs, then move hands around to catch in front of you. Concentrate on moving as quickly as possible without looking down to catch the ball. Try to not move your body up and down as you go through each repetition.
Hold the ball with both hands in between your legs, right hand in front and left hand in back. Quickly switch your hands, so that the left hand is in front and the right hand is in the back, without letting the ball touch the ground.
Through legs and toss
Stand approximately 15 feet away from the wall (or preferably a partner). In this drill both partners will initiate a figure 8 with the same hand (right in this example). This means both players will begin by initiating a figure 8 by putting the ball through their legs from the front with their right hand. Complete the figure 8 where the last step is putting the ball between the legs from the front with the left hand … once you pass through the legs to the right hand, the ball should be passed with the right hand to the other player. The balls should be passed / caught by both players simultaneously at which point they should both initiate another figure 8. The ball can also be tossed off of the wall and then caught by an individual doing this drill. Concentrate on ball control with speed. Look the other player in the eyes.
Variation: Initiate figure 8 with left hand (pass will also be with left hand)
One ball dribbling drills
Two hand between legs bounce
Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder width. Hold the ball in both hands in front of you around waist height. Slam the ball with both hands so that it builds in between your legs and builds up so you can catch it behind you. As you soon you bounce the ball move hands behind you so that you can catch the ball. Holding the ball behind you with both hands, bounce the ball between your legs so it builds up back in front of you.
Stand with feet should width apart. Begin dribbling the ball in your right hand a little higher than normal. Quickly move hand towards the ground forcing yourself to dribble the ball at an increasing speed.
Variation: Repeat using left hand
Stand with feet should width apart. Begin dribbling the ball in your right hand at a normal height. Dribble the ball progressively harder so the ball bounces higher and higher until the bounce is above your head. Then begin to dribble the ball lower and lower until you are dribbling as low as you can. Repeat moving up and down.
Variation: Repeat using left hand
One knee + popcorn drill
With one knee on the ground and one foot on the ground (w / knee bent at 90 degrees). Alternate tapping the ball with one hand then the other. Do this as quickly as possible.
Variation: Use top of hand, use side of hand, use fist
Stationary inside out: Perform a normal inside-out dribble with the right hand repeatedly as fast possible.
Variation: Use left hand
Between legs back and forth
Kneel on one knee with other foot out in front of you so that knees is at a 90 degree angle. Dribble the ball underneath the outstretched leg back and forth as quickly as possible. Concentrate on keeping your dribble low and quick.
Variation: Repeat with other leg in front of you.
Around leg – both legs, both hands
Dribble one basketball around one leg with one hand. There should be 4 different variations performed. 1) Dribble right hand around right leg clockwise 2) Dribble right hand around right leg counter counterclockwise 3) Dribble left hand around left leg clockwise 4) Dribble left hand hand left leg counter clockwise
Around both feet
Stand with feet close together (one slightly more behind you than the other), bend at the waist and knees. Begin dribbling one ball in each right hand low to the ground. Begin dribbling the ball around your body (you will have to switch hands when you go behind your body / to the front of your body
Variation: Dribble in both directions (clockwise / counterclockwise)
Figure 8 – both directions
Dribble one basketball around in a figure 8 pattern through legs. Stand with a wide stance (wider than shoulder width). start with the right hand dribbling the ball in front and then dribble through your legs with your right hand, switch to your left hand and dribble from the back, around your left side to the front and back through you legs … then switch to your right hand behind the body and around the right side. Keep your dribble as low as possible and move as fast as possible without losing control. Focus should be to continuously improve hand speed.
Variation: Go in the opposite direction
Front V Dribble
Stand with feet shoulder width apart, bend slightly at the waist and knees. Dribble the ball in front of you just below waist height. Swing it toward the middle, then allow your hand to roll over the top of the ball to the inside and push the dribble back outside. You should basically be sliding your hand over the top of the ball between dribbles. You should pound the ball hard and consistently, making sure you have complete control of the ball.
Variation: Do with both right and left hand
Side V Dribble
Stand with feet shoulder width apart, bend slightly at the waist and knees. Dribble the ball beside you, just below waist height. With your hand in front and on top of the ball, bounce it backward. Roll your wrist over and catch the ball behind you, then bounce it back forward. Rotate your wrist back over and catch the ball in front. You should pound the ball hard and consistently, making sure you have complete control of the ball.
Variation: Do with both right and left hand
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