You can be an extremely effective ball handler by knowing and practicing 5 things. Most players and coaches make
things too complicated. But dribbling effectively is simple. You don't need lots of moves. You just need EFFECTIVE moves.
Here's all you need to know to be effective at any level.
1 - You need to develop a feel for the basketball.
Developing a feel for the ball consists of drills that are stationary and slow moving. You will improve your hand-eye coordination, hand quickness, ambidexterity, throwing, catching and other important aspects of ball handling.
These drills consists of the Maravich series, one-ball dribbling, one-ball dribbling through cones, two-ball dribbling, two-ball dribbling through cones, tennis ball dribbling, and the Steve Nash passing series.
These drills are also great to put at the beginning of your warm up as a stepping stone to more intense drills.
A huge mistake that many players and coaches make is that they spend too much time on this. While it is important, especially for beginners, limit yourself to 5 to 6 minutes of each practice. The reasoning is that you can get very good at these drills, but you neglect the components below, you won't have the ability to handle game situations. If you can dribble 3 basketballs while juggling 5 tennis balls at the same time, it looks cool and it is a neat circus trick that is great for marketing, but it is a circus trick. It is not going to make you a better basketball player. The majority of your ball handling should be functional which means that they simulate game-like situations. Can you get down the court in 3 to 4 dribbles with either hand? Can you stop on a dime? Can you change speed and change directions like Chris Paul?
If you are able to dribble 3 balls and juggle 5 tennis balls at the same time, I would say that your hand-eye coordination, dexterity, and hand quickness are extremely good and you probably don't need to focus on them any more. You probably should spend more time on shooting, footwork, athleticism, and functional ball handling.
2 - You must be able to dribble the ball down the court at any speed (all the way from walking up to sprinting) with both hands with your head up.
Pretty simple, right? You can simply dribble up and down the court at different speeds.
Practice changing the pace from walking, slow, medium, fast, and full speed. You can change the pace from slow to fast, medium to full speed, and any
other combinations you can imagine.
4 - You must be able to dribble while moving backwards.
So now instead of going forward, you need to be able to back out of traffic and so on. That's where the
back up dribble comes into play.
Simply, get in a position where you are protecting the ball and shuffle forwards and backwards up and down the court.
Next, you can practice running forward at a faster speed, come to hockey stop, and shuffle a couple of steps backwards.
If you perfect a go-to move that's very difficult to stop, good defenders will adjust to stop it. That's when you add your counter move to completely
keep the defender guessing.
I prefer the cross over as the primary move and the inside out as the counter move. You might use the hesitation move and the crossover.
That's it! Perfect those five things and when it comes to dribbling, you'll have the dribbling ability to handle almost any situation. Should you also
practice other things for ball handling? Sure. Now do you need apply the technical skills to practice competitive drills to handle game situations like transition, ball screens, handling traps, etc.? Yes. Do you need to improve your athleticism to make you a better player in every aspect of your game? Yes. But I'm telling you, that these are five extremely effective methods to give you the technical skill to handle any situation.
You can use the back up dribble all the time -- you use it when approaching a trap, when approaching defensive traffic, when getting cut off in the lane, when breaking the press, when breaking a player down one on one, etc.
You can then incorporate the cross over in lots of situations. If you advance the ball and get cut off you can back up dribble and then cross over to break down your man and blow by him. You can cross over to change directions and bring the ball to the other side of the court. You can cross over to the passing angle to your teammate. You can cross over to split a ball screen. You can cross over on the fast break to get by the defender. You can cross over to eventually set up your counter move (the inside out). So next time instead of crossing over, fake out the defender by giving the inside out move and then blow by the defender.
You still need to practice a lot, but I think this will simplify your life greatly by focusing on really effective dribbling techniques instead of
trying to practice all kinds of moves and techniques that don't really help. The techniques above are the the most effective dribbling moves that I know.
What do you think? Please leave your thoughts and comments below.
Coach JR Wylie Elite Basketball says:
6/4/2010 at 12:55:39 PM
This is good and basic. My guards are judged by this standard. I also recommend dribbling goggles to get your players use to not looking down at the ball while dribbling. Post players and Guards alike.
This is great stuff, I coach High school F/S. I always get the left overs that no one wants, (girls that have never played or have played very little) New incoming freshman start during the summer league program every year. We get our butts handed to us during summer. I use the dribbling skill before practice everyday,(control dribble R-L, power dribble R-L, speed Dribble R-L, Crossover dribble, between the legs, and behind the back, takes 15 minute with 15 to 20 girls) at first they can't even get the ball down the court, if there is pressure. by the end of the league season, most of them are better ball handlers then the girls that moved straight to JV. It really work.
These drills are great, they work even better with the dribble goggles. By the way the dribble goggles help with a lot of other things as well. My kids were them for the entire practice, it's helping them to keep their heads up at all times!
I think you missed a couple of things. 1) MUST be able to dribble without watching the ball (strong & weak hand). 2) The importance of keeping the dribble low and under control. Beginners tend to want to dribble high, and can't change directions quick. Other than that... very good stuff.
We start every practice and every off-season workout with one and two ball stationary and on the move ball-handling drills. Takes about 10 minutes. Have done this for quite a number of years now. It works very well. We don't get pressed a lot because our girls can handle the ball.
Do you have any tips for moves at the top of the key? I get in a Position where I don''t have a player open and am getting pressured. Im in 8th grade and play on an aau boys elite team. I can handle the ball but I need to get them off of me. Thanks
Madi: ( the following is based on the assumption that you''re right handed; if you''re a lefty, switch pivot foot accordingly.) Get down in tripple threat position - ball just about shoulder high (not on the hip); ball should be held with shooting hand behind and balance hand on the side; make a 6" quick and sharp jab with your right foot at the "D" - make your shoe squeek; the vast majority of your body weight should remain on your pivot (left) foot for balance and explosion power to hoop. If the "D" responds by taking a step back, rise up for the "J" without moving your jab foot back (this will require you to evenly distribute your body weight over both feet); if the "D" stays tight, read how he''s playing you and react by exploding to the hoop - if he''s overplaying you to the right, x-over and explode to the hoop; if he''s overplaying you to the left, extend the jab foot toward the basket and blow by him. On drives to the hoop be sure to slice (avoid banana cuts) and don''t be afraid to bump shoulders (any foul will be called on the "D"). All drives should take one dribble to get to the rim, and should terminate with a two foot power lay-in (unless you''re dunking it).
What I mean is, when I'm driving to the basket I take too many small steps and the defender stops me. But when I take big steps, I end up missing the layup. Do you know any drills that help with footwork when driving?
Its too bad you couldn't have gone to Don Kelbicks camp in Illinois... he is great with footwork.
Don talks about attacking the defender, for example, IF you are going to your right, IF you can get your lead foot along side of his, you have him beat. He will be chasing you, so its the first step that is important, take the ball to the basket. The rest takes a lot of practice and gaining some confidence.
You can use a chair, put the ball in the chair, pick it up, square up and attack according to your strengths.
I don't know if this helps you because this is hard to explain without showing you.
If the hesitation crossover is a move that you execute really well, the counter move would be the hesitation in-and-out move. I think that's what you meant.
I usually like to take what a player does well and add counters to that. For example, maybe you have a great hesitation move. Why not use that move until the defense stops you?
When they do stop you, have a counter to the hesitation move. The likely counter would be some sort of change of direction dribble. Since the defense usually have to be close to you to stop you from executing the hesitation move, I like to use a move that changes direction while protecting the ball from the defense. A crossover or between the legs dribble may work but you are risking placing the ball in a place where it's easier for the defense to steal. That's why I prefer the behind the back or the wrap around the back dribble as a counter to the hesitation move. That's just my preference. That doesn't mean you can't do a hesitation crossover.
Personally, I think the hesitation or change of speed variations are the best moves that a player can use. When you get really good ONE hesitation or change of speed move, add a change of direction counter to it.
Dudes if u need any defending drills oru do anything.QUIT THEM!!! just look at players belly button so u can guard and always do a triangle with defensebor try to it helps with open players but if u open in paint no stopping them
Im John and im 10 years old u pro think im very young but i learn a lot of stuff i have been playing basketball since i was 3 and i have been studying basketball since i was 6
I really like your site, it has helped me work with my almost 7-year old son quite a bit. He started playing last year and can now perform basic 1-ball moves such as speed dribbling and crossover fairly well. He is starting to get pretty good at 2-ball dribbling as well. The only thing is that he still doesn't keep his head up all of the time - when performing heads up drills he can momentarily look up to count a number but then looks back down. Is this just a matter of time and practice? He only plays a lot one season out of the year.
Don't worry about it. My son is 7 and in the same boat. Out of 30 other kids he plays with, some are very good, they all have the same challenge.
This just takes time. 7 is so young!!
Just keep doing dribbling drills where they need to keep their head up. There are hundreds of them. If they are fun and competitive, that is better. In a couple years he'll start picking his head up more consistently.
Remember, coaching youth basketball is a marathon, not a sprint! Be very patient.
Thanks for the reply! I really try to keep in mind everything you guys have said about long term development, but sometimes it's hard lol. Their games are really kind of silly because it's a big chaotic mess, we get a lot more out of practice dribbling around the kitchen table lol, but I've tried to have him focus on basics like ball handling, passing, rebounding, and effort rather than winning or losing. Thanks again for the reply and the site in general!