Becoming A Better Ball Handler

Becoming A Better Ball Handler

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a point guard or a center, you’ll need to handle the ball and keep it secure. Guards typically live and die by their ability to handle the ball, so if you’re throwing turnovers, you’re likely to become good friends with the bench. For power forwards and centers, it’s less likely you’ll be putting the ball on the floor as much as your teammates, but many post moves and short drives to the rim require you to have ball security and a somewhat competent control while dribbling.

But, if you’re looking to get better at dribbling outside of practice, grab your ball and get outside! Here are some of CoachUp’s favorite drills that you can do every day to improve your ball handling skills.

Figure 8 Without Driving 

  • Start with the ball in your strong hand.
  • Take a step forward and pass the ball through your legs to your weak hand — don’t let the ball touch the ground, no dribbling needed at first.
  • Continue taking steps forward, passing the ball back and forth between your legs.
  • Take a total of ten steps forward and then backpedal to your initial starting point.
  • Repeat five times and then add the dribbling, go as slow as you need to at first — there is no race to train quickly!

Note: Keep your head up and knees bent to make the drill as similar to a game as possible.

Alternating Two Ball Dribble With Movement 

  • Alternate dribbling two balls with one in each hand.
  • When one ball hits the ground, the other ball should be at the top of its bounce.
  • Take ten steps forward and then, again, backpedal to your initial starting point without stopping, adding speed as you get comfortable.
  • This one will likely take you a long time to master as it not only challenges you to dribble two balls at once, but will focus on your motor-skills at the same time. Can you pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time? Most people can’t right away and this dribbling drill is the same idea.

Note: Don’t look down while dribbling! Being able to dribble without looking means you’ll be more comfortable in-game when you’ll need to look for open passes and ways to score.

Simultaneous Two Ball Dribble With Stationary Power Dribbling 

  • Repeat the drill above but dribble at the same time instead of alternately bouncing them.
  • After alternately for twenty seconds, power dribble for twenty seconds, then switch back. Soon enough, you’ll be able to swap styles seamlessly.
  • Try power dribbling from your knees, waist, and shoulder-level heights, this will help you with building muscle memory and overall ball control.

One Ball Power Dribbling With Sprints 

  • Line up on one end of the floor and work on power dribbling in a medium-paced sprint to the other side.
  • Repeat this exercise, increasing your speed each time until you are able to dribble in a full sprint while looking up.
  • This helps with in-game fast breaks in which you need to push the basketball up the floor to score a quick basket in transition.

Pro-Tip: Try blindfolded dribbling! If you have a tendency to look down at the ball when you dribble, try wearing a blindfold or close your eyes while practicing. This will help you become comfortable for whatever the game might throw at you. You’ll rely less on look and solely dribble based on the moment and circumstance, a critically underrated skill.

Once you have mastered dribbling with both hands at full speed while looking up, it’s important to work on one of the most useful moves for beating defenders: the crossover.

Power Crossovers 

  • Start it off by making a few power dribbles, then make a strong dribble across your body from one hand to the other.
  • Be sure to practice several times with each hand — remember, you’ll need to go both ways depending on your position on the court!

Between The Leg Crossovers 

  • Remember that Kemba Crossover from above?
  • Try the same drill from before, slowly creating a crossover through the legs.
  • It won’t be particularly easy at first and there’s a difficult cadence and rhythm to get right, but once you do, you’ll be breaking ankles in no time.


(Related: Read about improving your weak hand here.)

Huddle Up

By practicing the drills we’ve outlined above, you’ll have all the tools needed to make your crossover as nasty as his. Keep in mind that the amount of drills out there is vast and this is just a sampling of our favorites, but the ability to dribble is an integral part of training. If you’re able to utilize these drills, you’ll experience more success on the court and take advantage of all the game has to offer.

However, if you’re still struggling with some of these moves, consider booking one of CoachUp’s private trainers to help you out. They’ll have you throwing crossing up opponents and making them look silly in no time. What are you waiting for?

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