1-2-3 Dribbling Drill

1-2-3 Dribbling Drill

Line up the kids side-by-side on the sideline. If you have more than 12 kids, you may need to form 2 groups. Start off by asking the group what shape a basketball is. They sometimes say circle, but the answer is a sphere since it’s a 3D object. From there, you want to talk about trusting a basketball. If you drop a basketball, it should bounce and go back up. So, if a player bounces a ball down, it should come straight back up. Therefore, they can learn to trust a basketball. This point is very important because the main purpose of the 1-2-3 dribbling drill is to give the players the tools it takes move on the court without looking down at the ball. 

Make sure to clearly state why it is important to keep their heads up when they dribble. Here are a few reasons why this is important:

  • There are 5 players per team so each player has 4 teammates to locate on the court.
  • They need to be able to see their teammates when they are dribbling so they can pass or set them up.
  • Once a player stops their dribble to look up, it’s too late because now they are stuck.

 Start by going over 3 levels of dribbling 1-2-3.

  • At the 1st level, players will dribble no higher than their knee.
  • At the 2nd level, players will dribble no higher than their waist.
  • At the 3rd level, players will dribble no higher than their shoulders.


Explain to the players that they will normally dribble at the 2nd level, but the 1st and 3rd levels will help to develop their control.

  • Dribbling at the 1st level will force them to bend to low and will make it harder to look up comfortably.
  • Dribbling at the 3rd level will give the defender too much opportunity to steal the ball since the ball, obviously, takes longer to go up and down from the court to the hand.
Scream out different numbers randomly to keep the athletes on their toes. You can call out switch and they will have to swap the hand they’re dribbling with.

Now you will move on to heads-up portion. The goal many basketball drills is to have the kids dribble under control across the court — but that only comes when their heads are straight up. Many of the younger kids will struggle with this portion, but it is important to remind the participants that this isn’t a race. It’s more important to do this drill slow and under control as opposed to doing it fast and sloppily.

You can transition from 1-2-3 dribbling to heads-up very easily. You just say 2 and have them dribble at their waist. Tell them to dribble continuously on the same spot on the floor in front of them. Tell them to find their dribbling rhythm and, once they find it, to look up at you. Make sure they are making eye contact with you but that they keep dribbling soundly.

Once they show some consistent dribbling skills, tell them to look up but keep dribbling. Lastly, they will walk across the court with their heads up and dribbling at the 2nd level. Try to do this drill at least 3x a week, the results will be enormous. 

Once the athlete has graduated from walking, move into a job, then a run, and then, eventually, it’ll be like clockwork playing at game speed! Goodluck! 

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