As we all know, the ability to dribble the ball is key to becoming an effective basketball player. Based on your position, it’s my opinion that your ball handling workout emphasis should vary. For example, a low-post big man should not necessarily concentrate on the same type of drills as a playmaking point guard. To be clear, all positions need to work on dribbling, just make sure that you are realistic in what areas of the floor you will be attacking from. As with all skill development, dribbling is a skill which can be improved with repetition. Becoming one with the basketball is the ultimate goal.
The basketball should become an extension of your body. I constantly tell my athletes that they should be able to go into a completely dark room and execute ball handling without issue. Not only should you learn the feel of the ball, but the sound of the ball hitting the ground as well. Emphasis is normally always placed on feel, but with concentration and enough reps, you will start to know when the ball is going to return to your hands based on sound. As with all drills, the feet are the key starting point. Make sure that your footwork is constantly worked on. It is essential to have good footwork if you want to continuously raise your skill level.
Here are five drills that will help you not only increase your ball handling ability, but will help you on your journey to becoming one with the basketball. Always remember to start with the most basic ball handling drills first. It is important to start with basic ball-handling drills to not only get your muscles warmed up, but to slowly get the feel and rhythm of the ball bouncing off the floor.
#1. Correct Posture Dribble
- Stand with your legs shoulder width apart, chest up, eyes up, and butt down.
- Begin dribbling the ball for 30 seconds. Make sure to pound the basketball while executing your dribbling.
- After completing 30 seconds, begin another 30 second interval, but with your feet active in one spot. Make sure that you stay on the balls of your feet in this phase. Execute this drill with your left and right hands for 30 seconds each set.
#2. Figure 8 Dribbles
- Assume a wide leg stance. Make sure that your butt is down and your chest is up. While in this stance, start with dribbling left handed around your left leg in a counter-clockwise motion.
- When completing the counter-clockwise motion, catch the ball back in the front of your body with ONLY the left hand. Go for 10 reps.
- Once completed, proceed to go with your right hand and right leg in a clockwise motion. Make sure that on the right side, as with the left, you are catching the ball in the front of your body with the same hand. Be sure to rotate your hips when turning in each direction, so that you may follow the ball into the motion.
- Once completed on both sides, you can then execute a continuous figure 8, no matter the side you begin on for 30 seconds.
#3. Crossover and Crossover Follow
Now that you are deeper into your drills, you can begin getting your footwork in sync with your ball handling.
- To begin, start with the correct stance. When in the correct stance, you will execute a between-the-leg dribble right into a crossover. You can start with your left or right hand. Each set with each hand should be executed for 30 seconds.
- Once completed, you will now begin to bring in the footwork aspect of the drill. Execute the same between the legs to crossover move, but with a follow. The follow can be described as following the ball in the direction you push. So, if you are starting with your left hand into the between the legs dribble, make sure to use your feet to jump to the direction you are pushing the ball. In this case, it’s towards the right.
- After moving your feet to follow the ball to the right, go directly into your crossover, which will be going back towards your left. As with the between the legs follow, use your feet to move back left into the crossover.
- This drill helps you to understand how to move the defense. Remember: stay light on your feet. Execute each side (right to left and left to right) for 30 seconds each side.
#4. Two-Ball Succession Dribble
This is a drill which can definitely help you to learn rhythm when dribbling the basketball. This drill is not easy. Try not get frustrated when you first start this drill.
- Start with two balls in the proper posture. Now, begin dribbling both balls at the same time and in the same rhythm. As always, make sure to practice pounding the basketball when dribbling.
- Once you have established this rhythm, begin dribbling one of the balls at a lower level and faster pace.
- At the same time, take the opposite ball and begin dribbling it slower and at a higher level than where you started.
- You will now have two balls dribbling at not only different levels, but different speeds as well. Repeat on each side for 30 seconds.
#5. Gauntlet Dribble
Some of you have probably witnessed Stephen Curry execute this dribbling drill that we call the Gauntlet Dribble at Hoop Prodigy. This drill not only works on your ball handling, but concentration and finishes as well. You will begin in the proper stance, while standing on the free throw line.
- While facing the basket, you will have three teammates staggered between you and the hoop.
- You will beat the first defender with a two-dribble crossover, the second with a two-dribble between-the-legs move (both legs), and the third with a two-dribble behind the back move.
- You can begin with either your right or left hand because if you are executing the drill correctly, you will be making layups on each side, one after another.
- Don’t forget that with each move there are no dribbles in between going to the next move. This is a continuous dribble drill. Once you complete the behind the back move, you will then push forward to the basket and finish with a layup.
- Rotate the players in the line after each finish until each player has finished five times from both sides.
- To take the gauntlet a step further, mix in jump-shot finishes after beating the final defender. This drill is meant to drive competition and make practice fun!
About Coach Justin
“My father put a basketball in my hand at age 4. Since then, I have never stopped playing and loving the game. I started training and founded Hoop Prodigy so I could have a career in basketball. I have always seen it as a responsibility to pass on my knowledge and experience to younger players who are willing to grow and get better. With Hoop Prodigy I have a tool that allows me to reach a wide range of people and connect with them. Platforms like CoachUp are essential as well to help players achieve their dreams!”