How to STOP Over Dribbling During Games

Not much can stagnate your offense more efficiently or lighten the color and thickness of your hair quicker than...

Over dribbling on offense!

You've probably had teams where players acted like the basketball was on fire. As soon as they caught it, the first thing they did was drop it to the floor.

Over dribbling has so many negative effects on your team including scoring fewer points and having more turnovers! This bad offense also leads to bad defense as your opponents get more easy scoring opportunities via turnovers and bad shots.

Now, how do you fix this?

It is through what you teach, what you enforce, and how you practice.

1 - Teach them to dribble with a purpose.

First, you need to teach your players when they should dribble. Here is what you might tell players to do:

Dribble to score.

Dribble to prevent a 5 second call.

Dribble to create a better passing angle.

Dribble to advance the ball up the floor.

Otherwise, don't dribble!

One of my favorite lines for teaching how to dribble is from Don Kelbick who is the creator of the Attack & Counter Skill Development System.

He says when you dribble, "Think Lay Up". That's the mentality you should have when dribbling... Attack!

2 - Enforce it in practice.

If you want to get rid of bad habits, you have to create good habits. You can do this with constraints and correction.

Here are a few examples of drills and scrimmages that utilize constraints.

Dribble Without Purpose = Turnover

If you want your players to dribble with a purpose, you better set up situations where they have to adhere to this habit. One easy way to do that is to have this rule during practice.

Every time you dribble without a purpose, it is an automatic turnover.

No Dribble Drills & Scrimmages

Here is another constraint that you can apply. You eliminate dribbling from your drills or scrimmages.

This teaches them how to play without dribbling. The players quickly learn that they don't need to dribble nearly as often as they thought. It also teaches them when they truly need to dribble to create a better scoring opportunity.

At first, it can be quite ugly as they figure things out. But after awhile, a few minutes or a few practices depending on the group, it can transform into beautiful basketball.

Kids are zipping the ball around and you end up with some open shots. At times, I've even noticed that after allowing dribbles again, the offense even worsens.

It's up to you if you want to do this, but I also have allowed one dribble after a pass to shoot a lay up.

Limited Dribble Drills & Scrimmages

This is similar to above, except that you limit the number of dribbles for a player after each pass. You might use two or three dribbles depending on the age group.

This teaches players to use their dribbles only when necessary.

3 - Enforce It During Games

Ahead of time, you can also tell your players that if they over dribble during games too much, they will spend a few minutes on the bench.

This tends to be one of the best teachers if they revert to old habits during games.

If you utilize these tips, you'll be amazed at how quickly these bad habits start to disappear.

Other Solutions and Resources:

Article: 11 Drill Progressions to Improve Ball Handling and 1v1 Dribbling Moves

Camps: Breakthrough Shooting & Ball Handling Camps

App: Ball Handling & Footwork Workouts That You Can Do Anywhere - Track Workouts For Multiple Players Too!

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


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Keith says:
2/17/2018 at 9:37:26 AM

I used the no dribble scrimmage with all age groups. The players realized they must move to get the ball in shooting position.


Valery says:
2/17/2018 at 4:28:22 AM

Simple and right on point article. Good job. A bit more details and examples would not hurt. Areas that need constant monitoring and variety of applications in practice examples would be appreciated.


Michael Jewell says:
2/16/2018 at 4:07:49 PM

I do a drill with my 8th graders similar to the ones mentioned above. I call it RIP CITY. Versions include no dribble, 3 dribble max and no specific limit. We will run it full court, half court and game like. They must catch and RIP, (square up to basket before passing or dribbling. If they don’t it results in no points for that pass or a turnover depending on which version of the drill we are using. Sometimes we award points for each rip and clean pass (1pt per pass 2pts for pass in lane) no shots. Other times we play like a regular scrimmage looking to score.


R Jamieson says:
2/16/2018 at 1:27:17 PM

This sure hits the nail on the head.
First timer coaching a bunch of green 6th/7th graders, and the most common thing for them to do is catch, dribble twice, then freeze!
I'll have mostly the same kids back next year, and from day one this will be on my mind.


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