Don’t Be This Guy – The Dribbler (And Tips For Being A Better Ball Handler)

By Joe Haefner

Here is a funny video Nike put out on the over-dribbler. You definitely don’t want to be this guy.

There is a big difference between dribblers and ball handlers.

  • Dribblers stagnate the offense and make it easy for the defense.
  • Dribblers are more concerned with their dribbling rather than finding the open guy.
  • Dribblers turn the ball over because they dribble more. If you dribble more, the chances of you making a mistake increase. That’s simple math.
  • Dribblers love the flashy pass that will get a reaction from the crowd. You know… the oooohhhsss and the aaahhhhs.  The only problem is that this results in many more unnecessary turnovers that destroy your team’s offensive efficiency.
  • Dribblers take 27 dribbles before they attack the rim allowing any decent defense to force a turnover or a low percentage shot.
  • Dribblers make a great move or cross somebody up, but they’re still standing 25 feet from the basket and haven’t gotten anywhere. Remember the ooooohhhs and the aaahhhhs.
  • Dribblers allow the defense to rest because they’re too busy not getting anywhere.
  • Dribblers put me before the team and do not help their team win.

And guess what….

Dribblers don’t play for good high school teams.
Dribblers don’t get college scholarships.
Dribblers certainly don’t play in the pros.

However, maybe there is some room on the And1 Tour? Is there still one?

If you want to win, you need to become a good ball handler.

  • Good ball handlers have great handles, but choose not to over-dribble.
  • Good ball handlers rarely turn the ball over based on the amount of time that the ball is in their hands.
  • Good ball handlers destroy pressure.
  • Good ball handlers always keep their head up to survey the floor.
  • Good ball handlers make the right pass which is often the easy pass.
  • Good ball handlers make great decisions.
  • Good ball handlers get to the rim in 1 to 2 dribbles from almost anywhere on the court.
  • Good ball handlers understand when to set up their offense or play to get a quality offensive possession.
  • Good ball handlers are always in control of their pace.
  • Good ball handlers control the tempo.  They know when to run their opponents out of the gym or when to grind out the game with 30 to 60 second possessions.
  • Good ball handlers make their move quickly, then attack.  They typically only use 1 to 2 dribbles.  Not 27.
  • Good ball handlers wear down the defense.
  • Good ball handlers attack in straight lines.
  • Good ball handlers always keep their composure.
  • Good ball handlers don’t need to score to dominate a game.  You will see stat lines like 3 points, 11 assists, 6 gretzkys (hockey assist), and 2 turnovers.
  • Good ball handlers know how to get their shooters the ball in the right spot at the right time.  They make their teammates look good.
  • Good ball handlers study other great ball handlers such as Chris Paul, Steve Nash, and Jason Kidd.

Good ball handlers are the ones who get playing time and make their team better.
Great ball handlers play in college.
Elite ball handlers play professionally.

If you would like to learn more about being a good ball handler, check out this page as it offers tips and more resources:

4 Ball Handling Tips from the Nike National Skills Academy (VIDEO)

By Joe Haefner

This is a short video taken from the Nike National Skills Academy. Kevin Eastman who is an assistant coach for the Boston Celtics is shown throughout the video. If you look closely, you’ll also notice players like Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, Derrick Rose, Sherron Collins, and other great players from their high school days that are currently at the collegiate level and in the NBA.

4 Ball Handling Tips From the Video:

1. Hold position, be strong

Too often, many players let a little contact throw them off their game. The first drill in the video is meant to get players to handle the ball and maintain their ground through contact.

2. Crossover outside your knee

In the video, Coach Eastman says to cross outside your knee to keep it more game-like. It’s crucial to do this, because it keeps the ball away from the defender after you cross over.

3. Use eyes to sell fakes

Eyes up to shot fake – Before you shoot the ball, you usually look at the rim. By looking at the rim, this helps sell your shot fake because the defensive player thinks you are about to shoot. When I played, I rarely pump faked. I aggressively set my feet, focused on the rim, and put the ball in shooting position. By putting the ball in my shooting position and aggressively setting my feet, I could often drive by defenders, because they would often close out too hard or jump because it looked like I was going to shoot. If they did not close out hard, I pulled up for the jump shot.

Eyes down to shoot – If you put your eyes down, the defensive player thinks you are going to drive and that may cause the defender to give you some cushion which opens up the jump shot.

4. Get out of your comfort zone

In order to get better, it’s crucial to challenge yourself and make mistakes. To me, this is one of the biggest problems with youth and high school players. Too many players are worried about how they look when they practice. That was one of my biggest problems in high school as well. I didn’t like to make mistakes, so I never pushed myself outside of my comfort zone.

If you practice only things that are comfortable, then you will never improve very much.


Related Products & Articles

Basketball Dribbling and Ballhandling Fundamentals, Drills, & Tips

Two Ball Dribbling Moves & Drills (VIDEOS)

The Importance of the Back Up Dribble and How It Reduces Turnovers Against Pressure