2 Critical Tips For Better Ball Handling Consistency

By Daniel Williamson

Photo credit: Nick Hubbard

As much as basketball seems to be about highlight plays--who dunked the hardest, who crossed who, who shot the game winning bucket -- it’s not.

And never has been.

Generally, basketball is a game that entirely revolves around consistency. Making a game-winning shot is fantastic -- perhaps even a memorable life event for serious players -- but if you were never a consistent shooter in the first place, the game might not have ever been that close to even attempt a game-winner. In other words, you needed consistency to even have the chance at winning.

In the realm of basketball, consistency is king.

In this particular article, I want to talk about gaining game-time consistency and in a specific area -- ball handling.

You could have the best ball-handling workouts in existence, but still might find yourself “cursed” come game time.

For whatever reason, no one steals the ball from you in practice, but your ball-handling (especially if you’re a guard) seems to be a detriment in game. Something that’s holding you back. Where one move to the basket had you protecting the ball at all times, you might have been easily stripped of the ball on a different play.

With hard work and specific drills in game-time scenarios, this can be changed. Don’t be discouraged. Although turnovers may be the ugliest thing in basketball, not improving is even uglier.

Ball Handling Consistency Tip # 1 - Simulate Game-Like Pressure

To build your ball-handling consistency, especially to deal with a high-pressure, game-like environment, simulate as much pressure as you can while you go through drills or practice.

Basic ball-handling drills like “Figure 8,” “Zig zag cross over,” etc., aren't always enough. You need to incorporate ball-handling drills with defensive pressure. If you're not doing this, you’re truly missing out.

If you can overcome simulated game-pressure in practice, you’re much more likely to protect the ball in a real game situation.

For example, incorporating 1v1 full court, and/or 1v2 drills in your workout is a highly effective way to build consistency under pressure.

In one such drill, have the ball-handler start out at the base-line. With two defenders pressuring the ball, the goal of this drill is to split the defense and score on the opposite hoop (full-court).

In doing so, players can be expected to confront difficult ball-handling situations head-on -- with no option to be bailed out. In a sink or swim environment, it’s much easier to gain specific skills, in this case ball-handling, you otherwise wouldn’t have.

Variations on this drill include adding another defender (for a total of three), splitting the court in half to restrict spacing, and restricting the amount of dribbling.

Getting completely comfortable with these kinds of pressure situations is the best thing to do to ensure your confidence in-game.

How difficult can a defender be in-game if you’re already accustomed to being double-teamed?

If you’d like to further increase your ball-handling consistency with specific workouts, check out more of our progressive ball-handling drills here.

Ball Handling Consistency Tip # 2 - Put In The Time & Find Different Competition

Another important aspect to consistency, in all aspects of the game, is simply the sheer amount of time you can spend on a competitive court.

For example, if your team practices twice a week, and that’s the only time you spend on a court, this means you as well as your team are potentially all improving at the same rate. (Some players may practice “harder” than others and get better quicker, but on average, players won’t see massive improvement over their peers if they solely practice with the same group of players.)

If, at all possible, change this.

It sounds too simple to be true, but I can assure you, the most consistent players I know also have the most consistent and often court-time.

They’re used to game pressure because they put it upon themselves on a regular basis.

Playing on another, even more difficult court, on top of your normal practices and games, will ensure your consistency improves at an optimal level.

Expect not only your ball-handling consistency to increase, but your entire game to be brought up a notch, as well.

Resources and Solutions

Progressive Ball Handling & Footwork Workouts That You Can Do Anywhere

30 Competitive Game-Like Skill Development Drills

Breakthrough Basketball Camps - Elite Guard, Shooting, Youth, Etc.

What do you think? Let us know by leaving your comments, suggestions, and questions...


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Bobby Saint says:
1/16/2018 at 7:06:45 AM

I like that you provided some tips for better ball handling consistency such as putting in the time and finding different competition. Ever heard the saying, "Practice makes perfect?" It is important that you constantly practice your ball handling to improve and develop it day by day. Also, you may want to participate more in five on five drills or actual games where you can put your skills to the test. If I were to improve my ball handling skills, I would make sure to take this into account. Thanks.


Gustavo Woltmann says:
1/22/2017 at 5:32:14 AM

I will apply it to my team. Thank you for the tutorial.

- Gustavo Woltmann


Keith says:
4/14/2016 at 9:46:51 PM

Thanks for sharing.

I implemented #1 a couple years ago.

Works well.

Also, your App looks interesting, and I am looking for another workout app.


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