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Learn how to dribble a basketball - top 10 dribbling drills

Updated on May 17, 2024
12 mins read
Learn how to dribble a basketball - top 10 dribbling drills
Learn how to dribble a basketball - top 10 dribbling drills

Dribbling drills in basketball are about reading and reacting to the defender’s actions. Dribbling is among the first skills beginners learn when picking up this game. As they advance into the pro level, they have to continue fine-tuning their dribbling ability and integrate it into other skills to optimize their performance on the court.

There are hundreds of dribbling basketball drills that you can use to carve your players into a winning team. While there are no better basketball ball-handling drills than others, it’s vital to customize the workouts to your players’ experience level. This means starting with basic basketball dribbling activities for starters and advancing to complex basketball handling drills as your players learn how to dribble a basketball comfortably. Keeping track of their progress can be easily done by incorporating Blazepod pods and app.

We’ve compiled ten basketball ball handling drills arranged from basic to advanced types. As you’ll realize, most of these are dribbling drills that players can try at home. So your players can continue perfecting their skills even when they can’t access the gym or a wide-open space.

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Learn How to Get Better at Basketball

There’s not a lot that is needed to get started at basketball. But the key to enjoying the game is improving your skills and learning how to apply them. Being good at the game boosts players’ confidence and makes them crucial in the team.

It’s important to ensure consistency when building up new basketball skills. No player becomes good at the game overnight. Therefore, players should be willing and able to give their best at developing themselves.

Basketball Dribbling

Most experts agree that ball handling is the first thing every basketball player needs to master. This fundamental skill is necessary for protecting the ball from opponents, driving it towards the hoop and creating distance between you and opponents. When trying out various dribbling basketball drills, remember to;

  • Use your fingertips to dribble- it allows you more control over the ball and makes it easy to make quick adjustments at full speed.
  • Always keep the ball between your body and the defender- use the hand that isn’t dribbling to maintain some distance between you and the defender. But, of course, don’t contact or push defending players illegally.
  • Keep the ball as low as possible to make it harder for defenders to steal it- ideally, the ball should bounce between your knees and hips, but it should never go above the hips.
  • Keep your head up - another crucial basketball dribbling technique is the ability to tell where the ball is without regularly looking at it. This allows you to keep your eyes up to analyze where your teammates and opponents are on the court.

Basketball Passing

Passing is the other fundamental skill that every player needs to learn to play basketball at any level. Teams that are good at passing enjoy easy baskets and have an easier time playing offense. This is because the players can move the ball quickly and frequently until an opening is found.

Developing passing skills in basketball starts with improving reaction time. The player making the pass needs to react as fast as possible when the opportunity to do so arises. On the other hand, the target player should react fast to the oncoming ball and handle it like a pro.

Basketball Shooting

Dribbling and passing are vital basketball skills. But they won’t mean anything if the players have bad shooting mechanics. After all, teams win by outscoring their opponents. The key to becoming a great shooter is understanding and developing proper shooting form.

Shooting also requires a good integration of mental attitude and confidence. Players with these attributes stretch out the defense, opening potential driving lanes for taking the ball towards the hoop.

Here are vital tips for improving your shooting technique in basketball:

  • Begin by correcting your shooting technique to avoid developing bad habits.
  • Perfect your basketball shot follow through.
  • Pay attention to your grip- the fingers should be spread out and the ball nicely balanced in one hand.
  • Make smooth deliveries with a relaxed wrist.

Work on Your Weaknesses

Like anything else, weaknesses in basketball don’t define you. Instead, they pinpoint some key areas in the game that are holding you back from being the best version of yourself. Instead of surrendering to their weaknesses, great players view them as exciting opportunities to develop as athletes and start doing something towards improving them.

With this in mind, understand that it’s not easy to get out of your weaknesses alone. Ideally, make a list of what you think are your weaknesses and have someone else observe you and identify which of them are truly your weak areas.

Basketball Dribbling and Ball Handling Drills

Basketball Dribbling and ball-handling skills are vital for advancing the ball up and down the court. However, while both terms are regularly interchanged even by coaches, they differ significantly.

Essentially, basketball dribbling is about holding onto the ball more. Although this often pumps up the fans, it stagnates the offense and gives the defense some time to rest. In other words, most basketball dribblers focus on themselves instead of helping the team win.

On the other hand, ball handling in basketball is a mix of excellent dribbling and drop and catch. Great ball handlers don’t over-dribble. Instead, they focus on creating chances for teammates and passing the ball at the right time and spot.

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Basketball Dribbling Drills for Beginners

These are basketball dribbling drills for beginners. They are simple and non-competitive and create a foundation upon which more advanced basketball dribbling drills can be built.

Wraps Around Waist and Ankle

A proper warm-up is crucial for your players before getting into actual drills. This activity will get their bodies ready for the rigors of subsequent practices. From a stationary position, let the players wrap the ball around their waist and then make another wrap around their ankles. Let them repeat this for around 30 seconds or 1 minute and then switch direction.

Pound Dribble

The pound dribble is a trendy move in the court today. Most advanced players use it when planning to change direction and when tricking the defenders into flying past them. This move opens up many possibilities from crossover to step-back and between the legs step-back. Nevertheless, it’s a simple and fun basketball dribble trainer to introduce to your beginners.

This activity involves pound dribbling the ball with the head and chest up while standing straight up to an imaginary defender. Importantly, advise your players to use their entire body (arm, shoulder, and core muscles) to generate enough force for the dribbles so that the ball bounces back to their hands quickly. These quick and hard bounces are necessary to maintain possession of the ball and make it harder for the opponent to grab it.

The players should vary the exercise by dribbling to ankle height, waist height, and shoulder height. Also, they should switch from right hand to left hand for a balanced workout.

Regular Crossover

The crossover is among the best basketball drills for better handles. This tactical maneuver is used to maintain optimum ball control under heavy pressure when strategizing how to go past encroaching defense players. When done correctly, you’ll find it very effective in improving your player’s speed, fingertip control, and accuracy.

To perform a crossover, ask the player to stay low and dribble the ball from the right to the left and vice versa. Advice the player to keep the crossovers low in a v-like motion. This will help keep the ball away from the opponent’s hand, which is likely to be playing defense in their midsection.

A crossover is meant to make the player deceptive to the defender. So, have the player skip back and forth as they dribble. After mastering these basic moves, they can start doing crossovers through their legs as they skip around.

Front-to-Back Drills

The front-to-back dribbling technique is similar to a crossover only in that it involves moving the ball from the front to the back. These two dribble practice drills are often used together. To perform the front-to-back dribble drill, have the players bend the knee slightly and dribble the ball from the front to the back. Let them dribble for 30 seconds to 1 minute on the right hand before switching to the left-hand side.

Check out more interesting basketball exercises for your athletes on our basketball exercises page, covering all of the necessary skills, from decision-making exercises to ball skills.

Basketball Handling Drills for Intermediate Players

Basketball Dribbling Obstacle Course

Basketball dribbling drills with cones or other obstacles are an excellent way of building your players’ agility and footwork. Set up 5-10 cones in a straight line and have the players slalom in and out of the cones as they dribble. Another way of adding variation to this drill is to have the players walk alongside a gymnastic bench while dribbling the ball. The players can also sprint between 2 cones or run over boxes while dribbling.

Tennis Ball Dribbling Drill

In this workout activity, the players attempt to catch and throw back a tennis ball while dribbling. This drill offers your players a great way to work on their ball control and develop fluid basketball dribbling patterns. Because it involves using both hands, it will also boost your players’ coordination and awareness of what’s happening around the ball.

To execute this drill, the player dribbles the basketball laterally with one hand and tries to catch a tennis ball thrown by the coach (or another player) with the other hand. You can add intensity to the drill by throwing the tennis over the player’s head, directly at them, or low on the ground. Let the player dribble with one hand for 30 seconds to 1 minute before switching to the other hand.

Two-Ball Dribbling Drills

Dribbling with two basketballs works very well when advancing your intermediate players’ dribbling drills. Forcing your players to dribble with both hands helps improve their weak hands. If you’ve noticed that some of your players tend to transfer the ball to their dominant hand when under pressure, this is the correct dribbling technique for basketball to deal with that crutch. Two-ball dribbling drills will probably be hard for your players the first time. But you should see a significant improvement after practicing for a few days or weeks.

There are different two-ball drills that you can integrate into your workouts:

  • Two-ball same time: the player dribbles two balls while maintaining the same rhythm and keeping their head up. This is one of the best basketball drills to improve ball handling when done correctly.
  • Two-ball varied height: this drill mimics when the player has to vary the dribbling height while weaving through traffic. When perfected, it will train your players to kill the dribble and change dribble heights when trying to get out of trouble. To execute this drill, the player makes three high and slow dribbles with both balls and three low but fast dribbles.
  • Two-ball alternative dribble: another name for this activity is piston drill because of its piston-like rhythms. Like other basketball ball-handling drills, this exercise helps with hand-eye coordination. It also helps the player to time the dribbles, further improving their ball control. For this drill, the player dribbles the two balls at different times so that as one hits the ground, the other ball is up.
  • Two-ball crossover drill: this is an advanced form of regular crossovers. It promotes quick decision-making and hand speed, two of the most important skills for a player when preventing the defenders from stealing the ball. To perform this drill, the player bounces both balls (one on each hand) at the same time before switching the ball to the opposite hand. The balls shouldn’t touch during the crossover.
  • Two-ball weave dribble: this is another excellent way to help your players work on their dexterity and hand-eye coordination while in motion. Perfecting this drill enables the players to pound-dribble the ball and put it where needed. Begin by setting up five chairs, cones, or flags in line, leaving a space of one meter (yard) from one to the other. Next, the player dribbles two balls and weaves in and out of the marks. Advise the player to alternate between forward and backward dribbles after each chair.

Figure 8s

The figure 8 basketball drill is a good workout activity for strengthening the player’s hand speed and improving their catch and passing ability. If you have players who are regularly getting stripped, this drill might help. In addition, this is a great workout activity if you want to improve your players’ ability to dribble with both hands.

To execute this drill, the player starts by taking a wide stance so that the right foot is forward and the left foot is back. Next, have the player dribble the ball from the right hand to the left hand. As soon as the ball is in the right hand, the player should jump and alternate the position of the legs so that the right foot is back while the left foot is forward. Next, he dribbles the ball between the legs again. As with other basketball dribbling drills, the player should start slow before building up speed.

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Advanced Ball Handling Drills Basketball

Once your players get a good hang of basic and intermediary dribbling drills, it’s time for advanced ball control drills.

Kyrie Irving Double Behind the Back Crossover

Named after Brooklyn Nets point guard, the Kyrie Irving Double crossover behind the back is considered one of the most iconic and effective moves in NBA history. Irvin says this is one of his best moves when trying to get out of a difficult position. When this move is executed with precision, we’ve seen most players leave their opponent off balance, giving them precious time to change pace or direction.

How to do the Kyrie Irving Double Behind the Back Crossover

  • The first step is to set up the defender. Begin by dribbling the ball with your left hand and then throw it in front to control it with your right hand.
  • Almost immediately, do the first crossover behind your back from your right hand to the left hand and take a jab with your left foot simultaneously. This jab step is important as it makes the defender think that you’re going that way.
  • The third step is to do the second crossover. For this one, you wrap the basketball around your waist and then push off the left foot to take off.

Jump Shot

The jump shot is one of the biggest weapons for most professional basketball players. This move involves shooting the ball from a straight vertical jump towards the rim. The player starts by holding the basketball in one hand before making the shot using the other hand.

While it’s relatively basic, the jump shot is quite complicated, and it takes some time to perfect. On the upside, most defenders often have difficulty blocking because it’s executed above their heads. This increases your team’s chances of winning.

Steps to make a jump shot

  • The player starts by bending their knees with the ball in front of their forehead. The elbows and feet need to be pointed towards the basket.
  • Let the player place their dominant hand under the ball and the other hand on the side of the ball.
  • Next, the player jumps straight up without moving forward or backward.
  • At the top, the player snaps the wrist and extends the arm to shoot the ball upwards towards the basket.
  • Lastly, the player lands on the same spot and gets ready for the next move.

The players should always be aware of their range to perfect the jump shot. They should also train how to make themselves a perfect target for passers. Finally, once they receive a pass, they should try to make the shot quickly.

Most of the top basketball, soccer, football and MMA coaches, trainers, and athletes are enormous fans of the Blazepod training system. These Bluetooth-enabled light-up pods will add flash reflex training to your drills. This is a great investment for coaches who want to add agility, speedy footwork, dexterity, and quick decision-making to their players’ skill arsenal.

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Why is ball-handling skill important in basketball?

Ball handling when playing basketball involves controlling the basketball, mostly using dribbling and skillful passing. Great ball handlers perfect the art of handling and moving the ball using both hands.

Who is the best offensive player in the NBA right now?

As of 2021, the best offensive player in basketball is Stephen Curry (37.3 PPG), followed by Kevin Durant (29.5 PPG).

What’s the best way to train youth players in basketball?

Youths are fun to coach because they are impressionable, meaning they are usually willing and ready to learn from you. However, note that their readiness to be trained also means that they can easily pick up bad habits that may ruin potentially great players.

While there are other aspects at play, coaching young players requires being organized down to the minute. Spend time planning the activities of the practice session and arrive early to explain them to the players. Most importantly, remember to keep everything fun.

What is the essence of stationary drills in basketball?

Stationary drills are drills you accomplish without moving the body. These drills are important for training young players how to dribble while keeping their heads up. Stationary drills also increase the sphere of ball control by developing confidence.

What is the size of a basketball court?

A typical basketball court measures 91.86ft (length) by 49.21ft (width) and has a total playing area of 4520.43 ft².