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Basketball Dribbling Drills for Better Ball Handling
Basketball dribbling drills should be a major part of any basketball player's training, regardless of skill level, because it will improve all aspects of your offensive game. You don't have to spend hours a day with your ball handling, but should definitely set aside at least 10-15 minutes a day to perform a small set of the ball handling drills provided here. I say a small set because you'll have to pick and choose a few basketball dribbling drills each day so that you can get a good "rounded" set of ball handling skills.
At a bare minimum, you should include at least one stationary, one two-basketball, and one "non-stationary" basketball dribbling drill in your training each day. Remember, you'll get better and quicker with repetition, so don't mix it up too much to the point that you're only doing a particular ball handling drill only once a month. Also don't try to go too fast, you want to practive correct form and with the repition, the speed will eventually come.
Of course, a basketball is a must for basketball dribbling drills. Just as important, though, could be a second basketball that has the same feel and bounce as the first (for two-basketball ball handling drills). Any basketball player can never have too many basketballs around.
You can get great basketballs at most any sporting goods retailer. I recommend the Spalding Zi/O (available from Spalding.com in the red box or through the link) because it's good for both indoor and outdoor use and it saves you from having to get 2 for each.
Search 29.5 for full size and 28.5 for youth or women's. For indoor and outdoor you can also search "composite."
Search 29.5 for men's (Zi/O for recommended ball) and 28.5 for women's/intermediate/youth.
Stationary Basketball Dribbling Drills
For the basketball dribbling dills below, do them for a specific amount of time or a certain number of repetitions so that you can track your progress (less time to complete a specific number of reps, or completing more repitions in a specific amount of time).
Around the World (Beginner/Youth)
Start by bringing the basketball around your waist in a circle, then up around your head, then back down around your waist, and finally around your legs -- This is one repetition. Don't stop, and continue back around your waist, etc. Make sure to do this going both directions (right to left and left to right).
Figure 8 (Beginner/Youth)
When performing this drill, bend slightly at the waist and the knees with your legs far enough apart that you can fit the basketball through them, and make sure to keep your head and up and looking forward. Starting with the ball in your right hand, bring the ball through your legs to your left hand in the back. Now bring the ball around your leg and go through the front of your legs again to your right hand waiting in the back.
In short, your going through your legs, around one leg, through your legs again, and around the other leg, always going through your legs in the same direction. Make sure to do one set going one direction (through the front) and then another set in the other direction (going through the back).
This is one ball handling drill where a younger player may need to use a smaller, intermediate ball to make it easier to fit the ball through their legs. Browse the basketball above if you need one or two.
Figure 8 Dribble (Intermediate to Advanced)
Again, keep your head and eyes up when doing any variation of this drill and try not remain in a "triple-threat" like stance (not bending down at the waist). Bend slightly at your knees and keep your back straight. Dribble around and between your legs in a figure eight pattern. Start with the ball on your right side in back of your leg, dribble it around to the front of your right leg and then through your legs to your left hand in the back. Now dribble the ball around and to the front of your left leg and then through your legs to your right hand behind your right leg. Repeat this pattern. You can also dribble from the front to the back and go through your legs in the back.
- Speed Dribble
Using your fingertips to control the ball and keep the ball as low to the ground as possible while maintaining control of the ball while performing the Figure 8 drill described above. You should be dribbling the ball many times to get around and through your legs.
- Minimal Dribble
Perform the Figure 8 Dribble with as few dribbles as possible. There should be at a maximum two dribbles to get around each leg - one to bring it around to the front of your leg, and one to dribble between your legs to switch hands.
Cross-Over (Beginner/Youth up to Advanced)
The cross-over is one of the most basic yet most devastating moves in basketball. The cross-over is the "ankle breaker" move most often used to get past the defense, and is often called the "killer" cross-over. This is also why this drill should be part of any player's basketball dribbling drills training.
Stand in the triple-threat position with your knees slightly bent, head and eyes up, and back straight. Start with the ball in your right hand. Dribble it once normally, then dribble it in front of you from your right hand to your left. Now dribble the ball once with your left hand and then dribble it back to your right hand. Continue this pattern for a set period of time or set number of repititions.
You can also do this drill simply dribbling the basketball back and forth between your right and left hand without a normal dribble before the crossover. I suggest working both of these basketball dribbling drills into your routine. The dribble then cross-over helps you go from a normal dribble to the cross-over, and the other variation helps you complete a "double cross-over" where you cross-over twice in a row (kind of a "fake" cross-over).
Between-the-Legs "Scissors" (Intermediate to Advanced)
Stand with your knees slightly bent and your legs staggered with the left in front of the right. Start with the ball in your right hand and dribble it through your legs to the left and behind where your left hand is, now immediately dribble it back between your legs to your right hand in the front. Control the ball with your fingertips and keep it as low as possible when performing this drill. Maintain a controlled dribble and work up to higher speeds as you get better controlling the ball.
Stratta Flip (Intermediate to Advanced)
Stand with your legs a little further than shoulder-width apart. Face forward and bend at the waist. Start by holding the ball between your legs, with one hand in front and the other in back. Now let the ball go and switch the position of your hands so that the one that started in front is now in back. Do this quickly. If you have to, start by letting the ball bounce once while switching the position of your hands. Once you can, though, switch hand position quickly enough so that the ball never touches the ground. As with all other ball handling drills, do this drill for either a set amount of time or a set amount of repetitions.
Moving Ball Handling Drills
Stationary basketball dribbling drills are necessary to build a foundation for ball handling, but you have to include moving basketball dribbling drills in your training as well. The purpose of dribbling is to get somewhere else, not stand in one spot, so you should train moving to different places with your ball handling.
Walk Down and Back (Beginner/Youth)
Walk down the court dribbling the ball with your right hand and then walk back dribbling the ball with your left hand.
Run Down and Back (Beginner/Youth to Intermediate)
This is a great drill because it also helps you get a little bit of conditioning in, and simulates a more realistic game-type situation. As fast as you can, but still remaining control, run down the court while dribbling with your right hand. When you get to the baseline, switch hands and run back with a controlled left-handed dribble. Don't go too fast to begin with. As with all other basketball drills drills, you want to remain in control of your dribble, so you may have to jog to begin with and then move up to a sprint as you get more comfortable handling the ball.
Zig-Zag Dribble (Beginner/Youth to Advanced)
This is one of the best basketball dribbling drills because it incorporates not only some conditioning, but movement with the ball and changes of direction. Start on one baseline with enough room to dribble both to the right and to the left. Start out dribbling to the right with your right hand until you reach the free throw line (or imaginary extended free throw line), now perform a change of direction dribble (cross-over, spin, between the legs, behind the back) and dribble left with your left hand to the half court line. Perform another change of direction move so that your now dribbling with your right hand to the right and continue to the opoosite free throw line extended. Once at the free throw line level, perfrom another change of direction move and dribble left with your left to the opposite baseline. Repeat the steps to get back to the baseline where you began the drill.
Beginners/Youths can do this drill at a slower speed with more basic change of direction moves like the cross-over and work up to higher speeds and more advanced change of direction moves. Intermediate and advanced ball handlers should go as fast as possible while maintaining controll, and use a mix of change of direction moves (the basic cross-over should always be included). For an added challenge and to get some defensive training in, use a partner to play defense on you. The ball handler tries to get past the defense while the defense tries to keep the ball handler in front of him/her.
There are additional moving basketball dribbling drills included the next section. I've just put them in the following section as they require the use of two basketballs.
Basketball Dribbling Drills with Two Basketballs
Basketball dribbling drills should always include two basketball dribbling. Yeah, you can do the single ball drills with both hands, but dribbling with two basketball forces you to use your weak hand and not rely on your strong hand to re-gain control of your dribble if you lose control with your off hand.
You should have two similar basketballs, with the same feel and bounce to perform these basketball dribbling drills. If you need another basketball or two, browse the basketballs above.
Uniform Dribble (Beginner/Youth to Advanced)
Start in the triple-threat position, with your feet shoulder-width apart, head and eyes up, knees slightly bent, and back straight. With one basketball in each hand, dribble the ball in front of you in a controlled dribble. Make both basketballs bounce at the same time, as if you're only dribbling one basketball. Perform this drill for a set amount of time or set amount of reps. For added difficulty change the speed of your dribble(s) throughout the drill, but make sure to keep both basketballs in unison where they both bounce at the same time.
Alternating Dribble (Beginner/Youth to Advanced)
The second of the ball handling drills with two basketballs is performed almost exactly as the first one above, with the exception of the basketballs now not bouncing at the same time. Instead, your going to get a rythm in which you start by dribbling the right basketball, then the left. While the ball is coming up on your right side, it should be going down on the left side. In other words, as soon as the ball bounces on the right, then you're going to start to dribble on the left and vice versa. Keep this rythm going in which your right and left sides are always doing the opposite action. As with the other drill, you can add difficulty by varying speeds during your training.
Walk Down and Back with Two Basketballs (Beginner/Youth to Advanced)
With two basketballs, walk from one baseline to the other while dribbling both basketballs at the same time. Intermediate to advanced ball handlers can add some backward dribbles to the routine by walking forward to specific marks such as the free throw line, then taking a couple of steps backwards while still dribbling each basketball, and then continuing forward to another mark in which to take a couple of backward dribbles.
Controlled Dribble Down and Back with Two Basketballs (Intermediate to Advanced)
With a basketball in both hands, as fast you you can while still maintaining control of both of your dribbles, run from one baseline to the other while dribbling both basketballs. Make sure to keep your head and eyes up and maintain control of both basketballs. As with the walking dribble, you can better simulate game-type situations by sprinting to the free throw line, stopping and taking a couple of steps backwards while still dribbling with both hands, and then continuing a speed dribble to the next point to dribble backwards. Continue this pattern until you get from one baseline to the other, and then do the same drill on the way back to the original baseline in which you started.
With all basketball dribbling drills, make sure to go as fast you can, but not at the expense of losing control. Always keep your head and eys up, looking forward. Pick a small set of drills to do each day (3-5) and dedicate at least 10-15 minutes of your daily training routine to performing some of these basketball dribbling drills. In selecting your ball handling drills, make sure to master the beginner/youth drills and work your way up. Also make sure to incorporate at least one stationary, one moving, and one of the two-basketball dribbling drills into your routine.
Basketball Training Aids to Benefit Beginner/Youth Basketball Dribbling Drills
Naypalm and Dribble Specs under the "Basketball" link at JumpUSA
are inexpensive training aids to help you improve your handles. Naypalms help you control the ball with your fingertips while the dribble specs help you keep your head and eyes up.
Want some more? Check out the highly recommended Better Ball Handling video above. Tons of Ball Handling Drills that can help any level.
Basketball Dribbling Tips
Dribbling tips to help you become more effective, efficient, and smarter ball handler. Use them to perform these drills.
Check out some more Basketball Drills to become a more complete player.