Dribbling is the most essential skill in basketball – and the most frequently used skill.
Yeah okay – we know. Dribbling won’t score you points. And it’s shooting skills that will determine whether you win or lose.
However. Even getting to the point of shooting a jumper, or lay up, requires moving the ball in a fluid fashion that won’t get caught up for being travel
Travel. Not a word ballers want to be associated with.
Even the thought of being called up for travel is embarrassing.
Yeah. You don’t want to be doing that.
Here are 8 tips that you can implement in order to improve upon handling the ball.
This guide is mainly suited to people just starting out, and focused on ball handling. If you were more after tips to improve your overall game, or shooting, then this isn’t your guide.
But if you’re a serious baller who still struggles to dribble, then there’s no harm in checking out the tips to make sure you haven’t left anything out.
#1 Dribbling Hard And At Speed
Obviously gravity plays an enormous part in how well you dribble. But it should be noted that the harder you bounce the ball, the more control you have over it.
Just simply letting the ball bounce without any force will see your possession stolen more often than not.
To be better in-game, you need to up your intensity when training.
First, an increase in speed allows your hands to touch the surface of it more frequently, allowing for more manipulation over the object.
Secondly, the faster you practice, the more ready you will be for game speed, which moves much more quickly than practice.
#3 Head Up At All Times
If you’re a rookie, and haven’t watched much basketball – then it may come as a surprise.
In reality, ballers should not be looking at their hands when handling.
See Kyrie here? Staring down his defender. The last thing he needs is to be focusing on is making sure he’s dribbling the basketball properly.
It is so easy to spot someone who is just learning how to handle a basketball… because they constantly stare at their hands.
Staring at the ball, instead of where you’re running, or at your defender, increases susceptibility to steals – or even running into your defending player. Player collisions are not something you want to be part of
While playing, you must keep your head up at all times to survey the defense, locate your teammates, and execute plays to score.
Not looking down while dribbling also improves your dexterity to make you a better dribbler in the future.
Practice with your head up. Get so comfortable with the basketball that it just feels natural in your hands and fingers. If you still stare at your hands – it just means you need more practice.
#3 Learn to Fingertip dribble
Fingertip dribbling is an absolutely awesome technique used by players to hone dribbling skills.
In essence, it is bouncing the ball in short, rhythmic motions to improve the quality of your dribble, as well as the steadiness.
It’s almost impossible just using your finger tips. But the general idea is that you really want to only be using your fingers – try to avoid getting your palms involved.
Properly dribbling the ball includes preserving a well timed pace to keep your speed at a maximum while still having full control over your actions.
Finger tipping can be done by closely dribbling on the floor until the pattern becomes so repetitive it feels second nature to you. Run forwards, backwards, side ways.
Test your limits with fingertip dribbling – it will make game-day dribbling seem so much easier
#4 Learn to Circle Dribble
This is a great technique that is perfect for beginners.
Circle dribbles, as the same suggests, is dribbling the ball in circles around your feet.
Get your right hand, and start dribbling the ball around your right foot – keeping the ball at most 6 inches off the ground.
Do it both clockwise and anticlockwise – before swapping over to your left hand.
It’s a simple drill, but a great way to improve ball handling by adding deception to your dribble, as well as correcting improper form.
Very little dribbling occurs standing completely still, and this drill emphasizes more difficult motions that are similar to game situations.
#5 Figure 8 Dribbling
Now this is a dribbling technique that everyone seems to know about. And for good reason.
It does absolute wonders about getting your hand eye coordination to a decent level.
Figure 8 dribbling is the action of placing the basketball in between your legs in alternating fashion to simulate the number 8 as if you were drawing it with your arms.
You can either dribble from left leg to right leg to left and so on, or simply pass the ball with your hands between your legs in a figure 8 motion.
Similar to circle dribbles, this exercise matches in game motions you will have to get accustomed to.
Many players dribble in between their legs when driving down the court, and this technique allows you to do this more fluently with practice.
If you become a champion at the figure 8 – you might as well get the second ball in there as well.
#6 Practice Outside Of Comfort Zone
Practice makes perfect. We all know that.
Constant repetition of skills is hugely important, but don’t let your ability to do one thing well keep you from developing your other capabilities. Ball handling is more than just bouncing.
Practicing outside your comfort zone makes you a more adaptable player, and in the long run, a better one.
Whilst it’s important to practice whenever you get the chance – restricting yourself playing only in your backyard, or at a lower division will see your talent levels stagnate.
Not just that – when you train, why not change it up a bit? Dribble backwards, try different speeds of bouncing the ball, or perhaps dribble blindfolded.
The less comfortable you are, the more you are learning on the fly – the better your handling on game day.
Mentality is so underrated when trying to get better at something – especially ball handling
Confidence may or may not be ingrained in you as a person, but even if it isn’t there is no reason why it can’t be.
Experts in any subject, let alone sports, often preach that the right mindset is all that separates achievement from failure.
Even if you are the world’s worst dribbler, it does not matter if you improve even 1 percent more every day. All it means that your skills will slowly build to create a solid ballplayer in the future.
Believing you can do something is 100% more effective than hoping you can. The power of positive thinking may be all that distinguishes you between you and your opponent.
A quote from the GOAT.
This doesn’t just apply to basketball handling though. This applies to everything.
#8 Play Whenever Possible
This may appear to be a no-brainer, but the more you do anything the better you get at it.
Here’s that phrase again. Practice makes perfect.
Not just that though. Playing any possible game you can get involved in will do wonders.
Playing fast, playing slow, dribbling indoors/outdoors, and scrimmaging with people of various skill levels will all positively affect your game. All these different kinds of environments will improve your basketball handling skills without an absolute doubt.
Changing the environments you play is just as favorable as the amount of times you lace up the sneakers for a pick up game.
Using these 8 tips to improve your ball handling will not make you a superstar, but it will set up a solid foundation for you to continue to become a force of nature on the court.
Basketball is equal parts skill and mentality, and it is crucial that you marry these two ideas together to become the absolute best you can be.
Ball handling to most is not nearly as fun as shooting, but you must learn to drive a car before you can enjoy the breeze.
Being able to proficiently wield the basketball influences so many aspects of the game, like defense, shot selection and pace of the sport.
All three determine the fine line between winning and losing, and which side you end up on.