Quick Tip to Improve Dribbling Skills, Reduce Turnovers, and Better Simulate Games

Like most coaches I utilize lots of dribbling drills to improve players skills. I use two ball drills, cone dribbling, and a variety of challenging drills that I thought were pretty good.

However I eventually became frustrated that players would execute the drills in practice great -- but when GAME TIME came, they struggled to dribble at high speed in fast break situations and against full court pressure.

I soon discovered my dribbling drills were missing a key ingredient to simulate game situations.

In games, a player needs to dribble the ball with their strong or weak hand at high speeds, while 5 other defenders are flying around, and 4 offensive players are moving getting open for a pass. Games are more chaotic and dynamic than typical dribbling drills. This "chaos" makes it difficult to simply dribble the ball down the court (especially with your weak hand at high speeds). I have found that very few high school players can do this well.

So here's what I did and it seemed to help tremendously...

I learned this trick from youth soccer coaches. They would have all the players dribble the ball at the same time going through patterns that forced them to run into each other. It looked very chaotic but it worked really well because it forced all the players to dribble with their head up.

So now I run dribbling drills where players have to deal with traffic, pressure, and various things coming at them. I always like to have as many players with a ball as possible (and preferably dribbling with two balls) because this is a much more efficient use of time. So I had to get a little creative. I usually use the same old drills as before and then I add "chaos" by forcing all players to run the drills at the same time (running at each other).

Here are a few twists that I added to some traditional drills (it really did the trick):

Chair Dribbling with Traffic

Zig Zag Cone Dribbling with Traffic

These are just a few examples of how I simulated game like situations. I'm sure you can come up with more.

I found that adding these dynamic aspects and "chaos" to the drill helps tremendously.


What do you think? What are your experiences? Do you have any thoughts, ideas, and suggestions?

Recommended Training Material:

SKLZ Agility Cones - 20 2" cones

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Comments

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Soccer Camp for Girls says:
10/18/2017 at 1:27:31 PM

This is a great idea! Just practicing drills will not prepare players for the game. Thanks for sharing!

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Kyle Gonzales says:
4/15/2016 at 2:12:24 PM

Globtrouttrs. Pass the ball around waist, knees, ankles, right and left leg then figure eight. Then right and left leg and figure eight with dribbling. Keep your head up. High pounds, low pounds (both hands). Steph Curry drill? Two balls and the wall. Red, blue, and white. When someone says a color it stands for a hand that needs to touch the wall. White is both hands and red and blue is right and left hand.

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Emilie says:
2/22/2014 at 12:50:57 AM

As a warm up for every practice, I have my team "dribble the lines". It's the old suicides drill, baseline, foul line, baseline, half court, etc, but dribbling a ball. The key is that half the team starts on one baseline, the other on the opposite baseline. So they have to weave through each other, keeping their eyes up to avoid colliding. We run it once with strong hand, twice with weak hand. Even changing direction, they can only use the designated hand. Finally, I have them dribble the lines with cross overs.

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Ken says:
2/20/2013 at 8:14:05 AM

Here are a few more pages...

http://www.breakthroughbasketball.com/fundamentals/shooting.html

http://www.breakthroughbasketball.com/fundamentals/ballhandling.html

http://www.breakthroughbasketball.com/fundamentals/individual_offense.html

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Ken says:
2/20/2013 at 8:11:51 AM

Braxton -

Someone didn't do you any favors as you were growing up by NOT teaching you how to play this game .... what I mean is that they didn't teach you all the skills you are talking about.

6'1 puts you on the perimeter.... one good thing is that you have some post play skills... not every has that advantage.

Look at the page below and if you look at the top left hand side of this page... under PLAYER DEVELOPMENT ..... you will find a lot of drills that can help you develop more skills.


http://www.breakthroughbasketball.com/fundamentals/basketballfundamentals.html#

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Braxton says:
2/19/2013 at 10:44:37 PM

Hey Joe,

I'm 6'1 and only 15 but I will not grow anymore but I'm a very good post player but I just need to get good ball handling and shooting cause my AAU coach says I will probably be converted into a small forward or something else when I get into high school ball. But either way I need to improve these skills to carry on my basketball career so give some ideas/drills I can do on my own.

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mwangi frank says:
4/17/2011 at 12:47:14 PM

good suggestions but do we have a drill where the number of available ball is few like 3 for the whole squad?

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Jeff Haefner says:
12/28/2010 at 9:57:37 AM

Burke,

Here are some dribbling drills to choose from:
http://www.breakthroughbasketball.com/drills/basketball-drills-players.html#ballhandlingdrills

The drills above (in this article) are good too, even if he's by himself. You could dribble with him in a small space to add distractions.

You can also have the player call out numbers (while you hold up your hand changing the 3 of fingers you have up) so they don't look down at the ball.

Also, keep in mind 7 year olds are not very good and should not be pushed. Steve Nash didn't play basketball until he was 13. Look at him now. Michael Jordan got cut when he was in high school. Look at him now. Basketball is a late blooming sport and you don't really become good until post puberty. Make sure he has lots of fun and is an active kid that can develop athletically. Don't get me wrong, dribbling is good for a youngster (especially if they like doing it). But things like martial arts, gymnastics, soccer, swimming, playing tag, flag football, climbing trees, and unstructured play is better for him to develop athletically at this age.

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Burke says:
12/28/2010 at 8:16:46 AM

Joe,

Could you give me any advice for helping my 7 year-old learn to dribble better? He wants to dribble the ball in front of him instead of beside him. I need some basic drills for a single player to help him improve. Thanks.

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Ariel Rabe says:
12/20/2010 at 1:30:59 AM

For dribbling skills improvement, you may include 2 sets of road sprints after the routinary 15 (for kids) to 30-minute jog. In running a sprint, the motor coordination (arms and legs movements) becomes natural. Leg muscles become stronger for balance, aside from other leg exercises and drills for agility. See and feel the improvement in a matter of days. Reminder, sprints have got to be on the "road" or on a track and field setting. I do the sprints up to now literally on the road. At age 50, it's still a good feeling.

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