Ball Handling Vs. Shooting
Best basketball drills to improve ball handling
1. Dribble with your fingertips
This is one of those simple cues you’ve probably been hearing from your coach since peewee leagues…
But it’s effective, and makes a huge difference.
Similar to shooting, you should avoid handling the ball with the palm of your hand and make sure the last contact you leave, is with your fingertips.
Dribbling off your fingertips allows you to maintain solid control over the ball, no matter which way you move.
2. Don’t be lazy with your dribbling
When doing ANY of your basketball drills or dribbling, don’t be lazy. You should constantly be thinking about “snapping” the hand down and putting energy into each contact.
This snap movement should finish with the hand pointing directly down, fingers towards the floor.
Think about your dribbling as if you’re going up to hit a jump shot.
If jump shot isn’t your thing either, check out this 10 minute plyometric workout for basketball.
You wouldn’t be slow and thoughtless about your touches on ball, but rather should put effort into each movement so you can be sharp and hard to steal from.
3. Scan the floor
This one seems obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many guys at both the high school and college level play with their eyes down.
You might not even know that you do this…
A lot of players also tend to keep their eyes on just the person they’re guarding. Rookie mistake.
You go to cross over past this guy – but you’re staring right at him, rather than scanning the floor for who’s open.
It’s a skill.
While this example takes place in a game setting, you can improve on this skill simply by working on basketball drills and dribbling under pressure.
That’s why whenever you’re working on dribbling or ball handling, it’s essential to practice with your eyes up and get comfortable looking around while you get better with the ball in hand.
4. Keep the ball at waist level or below
A simple but more effective way to have more control in your ball handling is to keep it all below your waist level.
Bouncing the ball really high up to your chest is an easy way to lose that ball for two reasons:
- You’re going to get called out for carries a lot
- It’s really easy to snag ball that’s moving with such range.
No matter what drills you’re working on, practice them below your waist so that it feels natural to you come game time.
5. Keep a low base
You’ll hear any coach talking about maintaining an athletic position, but this is especially important in basketball drills and dribbling.
Focus on keeping a bend in your knees, and moving with fluidity and a low center of gravity.
If you want a good example of this, go watch film of any of the greats: you’ll notice how Michael Jordan moves like water around the court, floating with ease. This is because he maintains a low base throughout the entire game.
Staying low also makes you a whole lot tougher to knock over or step around. If you can keep a strong foundation with every jump shot, pivot, or layup – you’re that much more likely to score.
6. Practice in a tight space
Any of the drills that you work on should be done in a tight space.
Ball handling in a smaller space is a whole lot more realistic than just moving through an open court. During a game you’re going to have one or more defenseman on you at all times you’re moving the ball.
That’s why you want to get accustomed to working on ball handling and dribbling under pressure. This will reinforce all the other tips so far since you can’t play lazy in a tight space.
Example: A great drill to work on this might be playing two guys in tight lanes across from each other. You should both guard one another while moving laterally up and down the line.
Putting it all together
Like I said earlier, whether you’re just starting to put more focus on your basketball drills or have been working on them for years – you’ll see major improvements once you break it down to the fundamentals.
In my opinion however…
If you want to be a powerful, and strong basketball player with a deadly shot, you need to work on every facet of your game.
And yes, this includes:
- Getting in the gym
- Training during the off-season
- Lifting to hit your peak performance
- Focusing on plyometrics and agility.
The elite ball players I work with make sure to not only keep up with their dribbling skills, but also train using this strength program specifically for basketball:
If you’re ready to improve on every skill, score more points, and have your best season yet… it’s time to start training like the guys you look up to.