A Colossal Mistake with Dribbling Drills (For Every Coach)

Here is a very common mistake when it comes to choosing dribbling drills for practice or workouts. And the results can be colossal if not remedied as soon as possible.

This can lead to more ball handling turnovers and ineffective dribble moves!

This mistake is near and dear to my heart…

As a player, I made this mistake. As a coach, I made this mistake at the beginning of my career.

(We also have recommended solutions, tips, and drills below.)

The mistake is...

Spending way too much time on stationary dribbling drills!

For example, take these stationary 2-1-0 Dribbling Drills.

These drills are great for beginners. They help you improve technical aspects of dribbling the basketball. And they have a logical progression that gradually gets more difficult.

You might even use them as a warm up with more advanced players.

However, you definitely need to spend the majority of your court time on…

Dribbling on the move and dribbling against defensive pressure… even with beginners.

Here’s why...

When dribbling during the game, you are mostly on the move so you need to practice this way. It’s not the exact same skill as dribbling stationary. The technical aspects of dribbling actually change.

  • Your hand position on the ball changes.
  • The angle of the release to the floor changes.
  • The angle that the ball comes up from the floor changes and so on...
  • You add an additional element of coordination with your lower body moving as your dribble.

It’s just different, so you need to spend most of your time dribbling on the move.

And the ability to dribble the ball is rather useless, unless you know when and how to use certain moves and skills against defenders.

Every single move requires an action based on the defender’s position and reaction.

The longer I’ve coached, the more I’ve incorporated game-based drills with defenders into practices and workouts.

Here are examples of that:

Now, as a youth coach working with beginners, you might be wondering…

Well, my players can barely dribble, how am I supposed to add defenders? They’d never make it down the court.

So here’s a simple solution...

When using defenders in your ball handling drills, spend half of the time playing 1v1. However, the defender can’t use their hands. This accomplishes two things.

1 - It gets the offensive player accustomed to dribbling with a defender present.

2 - The defense has to get used to moving their feet with reaching.

Then after that, you simply progress to playing 1v1 live. The defender can steal the ball at any time.

Now, you get the best of both worlds. Your players get some success then they also get challenged and pushed to failure.

Now here’s another thing you should do… from the youth to professional level...

You should also implement dribbling drills with multiple defenders and offensive players. Players need to learn how to dribble the ball against pressure while surveying the floor for open teammates!

And they also have to learn how to quickly transition from a dribble to a pass.

You can simply play 2v2, 3v3, or 4v4 with full court defensive pressure.

For younger players, you might do 3v2, 4v2, and 4v3

To add more challenge, you can start with 1v2 full court. Then you simply add more offensive and defensive players. So it turns into 2v3 and 3v4.

To quickly review:

  • Don’t spend too much time on stationary dribbling drills even with beginners. If you can, do this before you get court time… in a hallway or on the sideline somewhere.

  • Try to spend all of your court time allocated for dribbling with drills on the move. The technical aspects are slightly different when dribbling on the move.

  • Spend most of your practice time dribbling against defensive pressure. With high school, college, and pro teams, you might spend all of your time doing this.

  • Youth coaches working with beginners can spend half of their time using dribbling drills against pressure where the defense can’t use their hands to steal the ball.

  • Incorporate drills that incorporate passing out of the dribble.

Well, I hope these tips help when you develop better ball handling for you or your team!

Related Resource: Sanderson's Game-Based Training System - 50 Drills & Games for Groups of 2 to 4 Players

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


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Daniel says:
12/2/2019 at 12:27:10 AM

Timely and good advice.
My 4th grade boys start practicing this week.


Keith says:
10/23/2019 at 6:36:17 PM

Thanks for sharing.


V. M. Premkumar says:
10/23/2019 at 3:50:49 AM

Very usefull tips. I tried it in our practice and found that effective.


Mike Burke says:
10/22/2019 at 1:17:17 PM

I would like your free shooting guide

  1 reply  

Jeff Haefner says:
10/23/2019 at 12:20:09 PM

You can get the free guide emailed to you by signing up here:


Brylee says:
10/22/2019 at 12:42:57 PM

I really like watching these videos


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