How to Dribble a Basketball
- When you learn to dribble the the basketball with the pads of your fingers instead of the palm of your hand, you will be able to exercise greater control and touch with the ball. When dribbling, you should never slap at the ball with your palm but push the ball down to the court with the force of your forearm and fingertips.
Tip: Find a “fingerless” glove to wear while practicing your dribbling so that you are forced to utilize your fingertips instead of you palm
2. Keep your eyes UP!
- The tendency for anyone learning to dribble a basketball is to focus their eyes down towards the court so they can see the ball hitting the ground. This common tendency comes from a lack of confidence and familiarity with the basketball in their hands. All dribbling and ball-handling drills should be practiced with your eyes focused on the court. The reason for this is twofold. First, when your eyes are up, you can survey the entire court and will have a much easier time spotting an open teammate. Second, you will avoid needless turnovers because your court awareness will allow you to see oncoming defenders.
Tip: Have a coach or training partner hold up varying numbers of fingers for you to call out while practicing your dribbling drills. This will force you to keep your eyes up instead of focusing on the ball.
- Another mistake inexperienced ball-handlers make is the energy they dribble the ball with. The most dynamic ball-handler in the NBA is Chris Paul. He dribbles the ball with an unmatched intensity and energy which allows him to keep control of the ball in tight spaces (check out how CP3 handles the ball)
Tip: Get a stopwatch and do your dribbling drills for a short amount of time (20-30sec). This forces you to raise your level of intensity and improve your strength with the ball.
4. Maintain an Athletic Stance
- An “athletic stance” refers to a player who has their knees bent, their eyes up, and feet ready to move. Players that play the game standing straight up, put themselves at a disadvantage when attempting a dribble move. A player that does not maintain an athletic stance will not be as quick in their move and risks losing their dribble because the ball has a greater length to travel from the ground to their hand.
Tip: Try and bend at your knees to get into your stance instead of just hinging at the waist.
Basic Dribble Moves
- A crossover dribble is when a player crosses the ball across their body from one hand to the other hand. There are various types or “styles” of crossover moves that can be utilized against a defender such as: a “quick” crossover, a “long” crossover, or a ‘over-the-top’ crossover. Check out these amazing crossovers for great visual examples of how to execute a killer crossover.
Tip: Most crossover moves work best when the player with the ball changes speeds and slows down immediately before performing the crossover. However, once they initiate the crossover move, it should be an explosive movement to power past the defender.
2. Between the Legs
- A between the legs dribble is nothing more than a crossover dribble between the legs. This move can give the ball-handler an added element of protection from an aggressive defender by using the between-the-legs dribble to shield the ball away from their defender. This move can be executed by either dribbling through the front of your leg or behind your leg. Fast forward to minute 4 of this video compilation to see how Kobe Bryant destroys defenders with his between-the-legs dribble.
Tip: Between the legs crossover dribble is a great move to create space between yourself and a defender so you can shoot an open jump shot.
3. Behind the Back
- There are two primary uses of the behind-the-back dribble. There is the crossover behind-the-back and the ‘wrap around’ behind-the-back. The crossover behind the back is mostly used as a lateral move away from a defender or a change of pace dribble. The wrap around behind-the-back is move that propels an offensive player down the floor because the player will be wrapping the ball around their back to move forward.
Tip: The ‘crossover’ behind the back is typically used in the half court setting to create space, set up an offensive scoring play, or control the ball in the half court. The ‘wrap around’ behind-the-back is often used on a full court dribble to quickly get past a defender.
4. In and Out
- The in-and-out dribble is when a player fakes like they are going to perform a crossover move but then pushes the ball back to the outside of their body. Chris Paul uses the in-and-out and crossover moves in tandem to produce a dazzling display of skill. Check it out.
Tip: Once a player has beaten a defender with multiple crossover moves, the in-and-out move is a great counter that will keep your defender guessing.
5. Spin Dribble
- The spin dribble is when a player spins with the ball around a defender. The spin always must be performed quickly so that you are not called for carrying the basketball. Check out the master of the spin move, Tony Parker of the Spurs.
Tip: The spin move can be a great weapon to get past your defender, however it also can be the source of a high number of turnovers since you are temporarily losing vision of the court and will be unable to see secondary defenders.
Simple Drills to Improve Your Handles
- Start by using your finger tips to dribble the ball as close to the floor as possible. Next dribble the ball at waist height. Finally, dribble the ball all the way at shoulder height. There is a sample workout posted on the side that uses specific time allotments for each level.
Tip: Challenge yourself perform more reps during each time slot than the time before (i.e. if you get 25 reps dribbling the ball at the low level, then try to exceed that during the next set)
2. Crossover Combinations
- Start by doing as many successive crossovers in a span of 30 seconds. Next, perform the same drill but add 1 dribble with each hand before your cross the ball over to your opposite hand. Continue adding another dribble between crossovers until you have reached 4 or 5 dribbles with each hand.
Tip: You can also experiment with the type of crossover (ex. for one set of drills you could practice quick crossovers and the next set you could try long crossovers) that you use for each set.
3. Body Circles
- Body circles are exactly what they sound like; quickly wrapping the ball around your shins, waist, head, and legs in order to improve your quickness with the ball. Once you have worked on revolving the ball around your waist, head, shins, and legs, then you should try to perform these movements in combination moving quickly from one part of your body to another.
Tip: Keep your eyes up during this drill and push yourself to the edge of your limits, to the point where you might lose the ball occasionally. Never play it safe where you don’t make any mistakes! Mistakes mean your improving!