If you watch much basketball, it becomes quite apparent that there are very few great ball-handlers that can consistently break the defense down off the dribble. When you see a player that actually has this ability, it’s so devastating to the opposing team that it can literally change the game. Imagine being able to create off the dribble anytime you wanted. Well there’s good news for you. This isn’t something players are born with, but rather, something players can improve through hard work and dedication. The five tips below will help any player improve these special skills.
#1. Do around-the-body drills to improve ball-control and quickness with the ball. Move the ball in a circle around your head, around your waist, around both legs, around your right leg, around your left leg, and in a figure 8 motion around and through both legs. Make sure to do these drills in both directions. Start out slow, and once you can do at least ten in a row, work on doing the drill as fast as possible. One way to see if you are getting any faster is to put these drills into timings. See how many times you can move the ball around your waist in 30 seconds. When I first started doing this drill in 2nd grade, I couldn’t do very many. But through dedication, and the use of the timer on my mom’s microwave, I eventually got to the point where I could do at least 70 around my waist in 30 seconds. With some serious dedication, you can do the same thing!
#2. When working on dribbling, make sure to pound the basketball as hard as possible. You have got to challenge your hands and fingers to get stronger and quicker with the ball. Now, this doesn’t mean you hit at the basketball like a fly swatter. Make sure to absorb the basketball with the pads of your hands and fingers, but don’t hit at it with your palm. If you mess up, don’t worry about it. In fact, if you never mess up, you definitely aren’t pushing yourself hard enough. Weak ball-handlers are flimsy and weak with the dribble while good ball-handlers are strong with the dribble. Pound the ball!
#3. When working on change of direction drills, such as stationary crossovers and between the legs dribbles, make sure to have rhythm with your movements. A stiff player with robotic movements will never be consistently effective off the dribble. The players that are the best off the dribble have rhythm and can lean their body in one direction or the other in a smooth manner. It is important that while working on both stationary and moving drills, you rock your body to the rhythm of the dribble. Be smooth and athletic while still pounding the ball.
#4. Incorporate 2-ball dribbling drills into your basketball training regimen. Work on dribbling the balls at the same time as well as in an alternating fashion. Make sure that you pound the balls as hard as possible! Challenge yourself by crossing the balls over in front of you, between your legs, and behind your back. Make sure you can do at least ten repetitions in a row of a specific drill before you work on speed. Also work on these drills while moving. If you can dribble two balls well, in full speed, game-like situations, then dribbling only one ball will be easy. It’ll feel like it’s a part of your body!
#5. It’s important that your ball-handling skills transfer over into game situations. One drill that can help this transition and improve your ability to dribble under pressure is called the Side-Rider drill. In this drill, start on the baseline with a defensive player at your side. The defender’s goal is to literally push you to the sideline. This means that the defender is going to foul you while you are dribbling. On offense, your goal is to dribble in a straight line at full speed to the opposite end of the court and score. The defender is going to be at your side, pushing and fouling you, so it’s important that you stay low and strong with the dribble while protecting the ball. Make sure to execute this drill with both hands. Once you can handle this pressure, have the defender try and steal the ball as well. If the defender steals the ball, bring the ball back to the spot the ball was knocked away or stolen, and continue the drill.
Implementing these five tips will put you well on your way to maximizing your potential as a ball-handler.