What excites you about the game of basketball? When you watch compilations of the greatest basketball moves, what catches your eye?
Basketball highlights are dominated by dunks, big time shots, assists, blocks and – dribbles.
You probably watched Allen Iverson’s famous crossover on Michael Jordan, right? How about Jamal Crawford’s signature “shake and bake” move? How many times Steve Nash took you off of your seat with some crazy skilled crossovers? Or maybe you prefer Jason Williams’ insane, out-of-this-world dribbles?
You can continue the list…
Last time we talked about choosing the right basketball position for you. But no matter which position you’re playing at, you need to know to handle the ball, to do it with confidence and as effective as possible. Mastering the skill of dribble will give you the key advantage over your defender in the game.
So we prepared for you ___ basketball dribbling drills you should start doing now in order to become a complete basketball player. Stay with us and learn some useful tips and drills that will help you in your quest.
Here we go!
There are numerous dribbling drills you can learn. However, all of them have the same goal, and because of that, all of them have something in common.
So for start, here are some general rules you should follow in every dribbling drill you start practicing. Remembering and following these tips is very important in order for them to really take effect in real-game situations.
Read them carefully and keep them in mind every time you grab the ball in your hands.
- Keep your head up all the time. All the time!
- Dribble with your fingertips, not your palms
- Don’t be afraid of mistakes
- Dribble hard – practice with intensity
- Keep the balance
- Repetitionis the mother of learning
Now, let’s practice basketball dribbling!
With general guidelines in your mind, you’re set to start basketball dribbling drills. Here, we will present you three sets of drills: stationary, motion, and group dribbling drills. The goal here is for you to gradually progress your dribbling skills.
We’ll start with fundamental stationary drills, we’ll take a step up with combining them with motion, and at the end, we’ll present you some drills you can practice with your friends, with emphasis on competitiveness.
Take each step, no matter how easy or naïve it might look, seriously. The secret of great basketball players lays in their ability to perform the most fundamental basketball moves with perfection. So start with the basics, practice them until they become a natural part of your game, and then move on to more complex dribbling drills. You’ll be amazed how skilled you’ll become!
Let’s start with the basics.
Stationary basketball dribbling drills – this set of dribbling drills is a great way for you to conquer basic basketball moves, and build a solid base that you can build upon. Take them seriously and practice them until they become natural for you.
1. Basketball slaps – this is the most fundamental drill that will give you the right feeling of basketball in your hands
Instructions: Take the basketball in your hands. While holding the ball in one hand, slap the ball quick and hard with the other hand. Repeat this alternating both hands during the process. Make slapping the ball into a habit.
Why is this drill useful? While this may seem like a waste of time, don’t be fooled. During the game, you have to able to use this move on several occasions: while grabbing the ball after rebound, while receiving the pass, securing the ball after loose-ball fighting, or initiating the out-of-bounds play as a ball inbounder.
2. Wraps – another basic exercise that simulates in-game situations.
Instructions: Take the basketball stance position (spread your legs shoulder width apart, lower your hips and keep your back straight). With the ball in your hands, start wrapping the ball repeatedly around your head, quick and hard. Then switch to your waist, then your legs, and finish with wrapping the ball around your ankles.
Alternations: When you get comfortable with wrapping the ball, you can combine the wraps around head, waist, legs and ankles into one continuous motion. You can start with the head or legs, and wrap the ball upwards/downwards.
Why is this drill useful? Some of the most tricky basketball moves are using ball wrap. Like Manu Ginobili’s signature behind the back wrap. This basketball dribble move is also useful when you’re faced with heavy pressure from defense to safely switch hands and move the ball away from the defender.
3. Pounding the ball – this dribble is the most basic basketball dribble in the game. No matter which position you’re playing or how good you are with handling the ball, you need to master this move.
Instructions: Take the basketball stance position. With your head up all the time, pound the ball on the floor with your one hand, as hard and as quick as you can. Start with the ball pounding up to your shoulder. Then take the pounding lower to your waist. When you feel you got it, practice more. Then you finish with low pounds at your ankle height. Repeat the process with your other hand.
Additional: When you master the basic pound dribble, take it to the next level. Ask your friend to stand across, facing you. Make him give you hand signals how high and with which arm you should pound the ball.
For example, if your friend takes his right hand at his shoulder height, start pounding the ball with your left hand at shoulder height, mirroring his arm position. Let him change hands and hand positions and mirror the moves.
This will force you to keep your head up all the time, improve your reflex and reaction, and teach you to be aware of your surroundings in the game.
4. V-dribble drill – this is an upgrade on the pound dribble. It’s a great drill to get the right feeling of the ball and improve you dribbling mechanics.
Instructions: As the name of the drill suggests, the ball will get V-shape when you pound it on the floor. It looks like this. You can start with one hand, then switch to the other, and at the end pound the ball from one hand to another. Remember, dribble quick and hard, and keep your head up all the time!
Alternations: This is a good time to start practicing ball protection. Take the basketball stance. Then step forward with your felt leg, and face the foot of your right leg sideways.
You start taking the V-dribble with your right arm, with the ball pounding in the area between your legs, while placing your felt elbow in front, shoulder height. Imagine a defender standing in front of you, and try to protect the dribble with your elbow standing between you and the defender. Repeat this with your other hand.
5. Crossover dribble – probably the most common dribble in professional basketball. But if performed in the right time and with style, it’s a killer move. Definitely a dribble you should master.
Instructions: Begin with standing in basketball stance. Pound the ball with your right hand a couple of times to prepare for the move. Then step forward with your right foot. As you right foot touches the floor, pound the ball from your right hand to your left in V-shape.
Now when the ball is in your left hand, repeat the process, this time with your left foot forward, crossing the ball over from your left hand to your right. Look how it’s done by Mr. Wade! Simple but deadly effective, right?
6. Behind the back dribble – now we’re taking a step up! This basketball dribble is not only useful, but it looks pretty cool if you pull it during the game. Master this move and the crowd will go wild.
Instructions: Basically, behind the back dribble is nothing more that V-side dribble performed behind your back. You take the basketball stance and start pounding the ball from one hand to another behind your back.
But remember – dribble hard, dribble quick and keep your head up and look in front of you, not on the ball. Don’t be annoyed because we repeat this all the time – it’s for your own good!
7.Between the legs dribble – it looks attractive, it’s useful and gives you unpredictability in your game. Easy but effective!
Instructions: With the ball in your right hand, step forward with your left leg. Face the foot of your right leg on the side. You start with pound dribble with your right hand, and then pound the ball between your legs.
As soon as you do that, move your left arm from protect position to your left side to catch the ball. When the ball touches your left hand, get back in basketball stance position by either pulling your right leg back or taking your left leg forward.
This depends on whether you want to attack the space (stepping forward), or separate from defender (stepping backwards). Continue to dribble the ball and repeat the process with other hand.
Alternations: There are several different ways to perform this dribble. After putting the ball between the legs, you can remain in the same position, take a moment of hesitation, and put the ball back between the legs.
You can also practice “scissors” dribble – when you pound the ball between the legs, you make an immediate hop, switching your forward leg back and your back leg forward. Now you’re ready to repeat the move with other hand.
Fun fact: Scissor dribble that Michael Jordan pulled on Larry Bird is one of the most famous moves in basketball history (starts at 00:15).
Experiment by combining!
After you went through these basketball dribbling drills, you can take another step forward. Turn on a freestyle mode and combine mentioned dribble drills in one continuous motion.
Start with the pound, then put it between your legs, then V-shape on the side… The choice is yours. Just practice as much as you can, and please – keep your head up, practice with intensity and don’t be afraid to make mistakes!
Extra drill – Spider dribble – we give you this extra drill to help you improve your reaction and hand coordination, two very important things for any basketball player.
Instructions: Spread your legs and imagine a line between your feet. Start with one pound with your right hand in the middle of imaginary line. Then pound the ball with your left hand at the same spot.
The next pound will be with your right hand, but this time your hand should be behind your back and the next with your left hand behind your back.
Do this as quickly as possible and pound the ball as low as you can.
Basically, the goal is to pound the ball at the same spot, switching your hands front and back. It looks like this.
Motion Basketball dribbling drills
When you master these dribbles in stationary mode, take a next step – dribbling in motion!
Instead to give you rigid instructions about which dribble move to perform and in which order, we advise you to be creative. You are the one who knows the best what move will come to you naturally, so feel free to experiment however you want.
Tip: For example, you can start by standing on the baseline. Your goal is to dribble the ball to the other baseline. How you will get there – is completely on you!
Take a few dribbles, then pull the behind the back dribble, take a bit of hesitation and pull a deadly crossover… whatever comes naturally for you at the moment.
Additional tips: Dribbling in motion is a great time to start including change of rhythm in your dribbling moves. Basketball is the game of rhythm more than game of speed. A bit of hesitation prior to crossover will catch your defender of the guard. Try to include change of rhythm while you’re dribbling across the court.
Another useful thing you can start practicing now is also change of direction of your dribble. You can place markers on different places on the court and dribble from one to another while performing some of the dribbling moves you learned to change direction.
Here is an example of this type of drill. Who can show you how to dribble better than Steve Nash?
And again – heads up all the time, dribble hard, practice with intensity and don’t be afraid of mistakes!
Another bonus – Pete Maravich drill
Legendary “Pistol” Pete Maravich was of the best ball handlers in the history of basketball. Here is one drill he practiced to get to that level. It’s simple, just do it with intensity!
Instructions: The only goal here is to dribble the ball in limited area – the smaller area the better. A circle on the court center is great place for that.
All you have to do is dribble the ball for some time (one minute, two minutes, five minutes) continuously inside the circle, but do not cross outside of the circle. Include all dribbling drill you learned so far.
Group Basketball dribbling drills
For the end, we will give you some additional drills you can practice in a group with your friends. Practicing in a group will give your dribbling drills competitive dimension. After all, basketball is a competitive game so this could be very useful in developing your dribbling skills.
Instructions: Split into two teams with equal number of players. Establish an area of play – the smaller area the better. On the mark players from both teams approach to each other.
The goal is to dribble the ball constantly within the area, while trying to deflect the ball from players from another team, and save your dribble from opponent’s deflection. You must not leave the game area, or else you’re out.
The player who gets his ball deflected is out of game also. So you need to keep your head up all the time and save your dribble. Use every trick you learned to keep the ball and trick your opponent and use your free hand for protection!
We showed you some useful basketball dribbling drills that should get you prepared for mastering ball handling in the game. Learn the drills and practice them all the time, and then more.
Follow the general guidelines we provided you. Don’t give up until you master the dribbles to perfection.
There are a lot more drills for you to practice. We gave you some basics along with instructions on how to apply them in motion, but we gave you enough freedom to be creative and perform the drills as they come to you naturally.
So keep the love for the game of basketball, and keep your head up all the time!