Updated: Aug 8, 2021
Dribbling can be one of the toughest skills to learn in basketball. It requires a lot of skill, patience, and technique.
It is also one of the best skills to learn if you want to improve your game as a whole and become a more effective, scorer and player on the offensive end.
Below Are simple tricks and tips you can use to improve this aspect of your game.
1. Dribbling The Ball Hard
There are a few reasons why a player might want to dribble the ball harder in basketball.
Gives you more control
A big reason a player might want to dribble it harder is that it gives you more control with the ball.
A reason for this is because, by dribbling the ball harder, you actually put the ball in your hands for a longer time, and by putting the ball in your hands for a long time, you undoubtedly have more control of the ball.
Makes your moves better
You see by dribbling the ball harder you put more pop into your dribbles and in turn, it makes your move much more explosive in general.
A big reason I believe this is true is that by dribbling the ball harder, your body will naturally move quicker and faster in general.
This technique also works because it can really throw your defender off and make you change speeds when going to the basket or creating your own shot off the bounce.
Tips For Practicing this
When practicing this style, I recommend players to dribble harder than usual, so they can build up the muscle memory, and make it seem more natural, in a game or competition scenario.
Check out this video below, to help explain the importance of dribbling harder, and how to practice this in games or practice.
2. Improve Your Weak Hand
By improving this aspect of the game, you become a better player overall, and more versatile and effective when it comes to dribbling.
Tips To Practicing
The best tip I can give to improving your weak hand, especially when it comes to dribbling, is overstimulating that hand.
This can be done by setting aside time for only practicing on that part of your game. And by making that the main emphasis on your dribbling workout in general.
3. Getting Low
Now when I say getting low, many players mistake that for getting low all the time while they're dribbling the basketball.
The only time you should get low is when you driving to the rim or you are about to make a move or combo.
This is because by getting low you can get more control on the ball, and this will allow you to make that move quicker, and easier.
That is a big reason why so many taller players struggle to handle the ball. By being so high up in the air the ball is in their hand longer so they are not able to control it as long as someone who is shorter than they are.
How To Practice Getting Low
An easy way to practice getting low is doing stationary ball handling. Stationary Ball handling is great because it allows you to practice getting in the stance required to dribble a basketball while also working on your handles as a whole.
Some basic tips I would give for this drill are to mix up the dribbles you do in this drill and make sure you dribble the ball hard and with pace.
Some things you can do to mix it up, are crossover, figure eights, and even in and out dribbles.
Below is a great video explaining how to get low in basketball the right way.
4. Losen Up
I see this mistake all the time with players. When dribbling a basketball, I see them slap the ball and keep their body way too tight.
The problem with this is that they do not get any rhythm, and their dribbles are not that smooth, or fluid.
As a player, you want to be less resistant when you dribble the ball and move your body with the ball. Like anything in basketball, dribbling is an art, and you need to find out what works best for you.
Some players have different dribbling styles, but in general, it is good to have some leeway on your hands when dribbling the ball.
Pro Tip: An easy way to do this is to dribble with the palm of your fingers, and never make sure the basketball is going directly into your hands.
5. Discover Your Dribbling Style
When discovering your style, it is important to do a little self-inquiry, and see what style of dribbling best works for you.
The reason it is important to know which style you are is that by knowing your style you will know which moves will work best for you, and which players and styles you should implement off.
Below are a few examples of the different types of styles and which one might be right for you.
Loose Ball Handler- This style of ball handler is usually, very quick, and has the ball extended and far from his body. They are players focused on misdirection, and using the ball to juke out their opponents from them.
These kinds of players tend to be Skinner, more ectomorph body types. For example, Losse ball handlers tend to be guys like Stephen Curry and Jamal Crawford.
Tight Ball Handler- These ball handlers, are players who keep the ball close to their bodies, and use short but effective dribbles to get by their defenders. They also use their bodies to juke out opponents instead of the ball most of the time.
I notice these players tend to have very quick first steps, and they also tend to be smaller guards. Players with Tight Handles would be players like Isiah Thomas, and Monte Morris.
For more information on what type of ball handler you are check out the video below
6. Hand Placement
The best place for a player's hand to be would be on top of the ball off to the side a little bit.
If you were thinking of a basketball like a clock, the top of the basketball would be 12 and you should have your hands on or above about 9 and 3, depending on what moves you doing, and what situation you are in.
Having your hands on this spot will prevent you from getting carries called on you, while also giving you more control when you're making a move like a crossover, or between the legs dribble.
Tips To Practicing
The best thing to do to make sure your hand is in the right position is by doing a simple dribbling workout, and then recording where your hands are when you are dribbling. This way you can notice, and make the correct adjustments needed in order to correct your hand placement.
7. Get A feel For The Ball
Getting a feel of the ball allows you to better be able to do combos, and more complicated moves and dribbles because it allows you to control the ball, and position it easier for your next dribble.
Drills and Tips
This drill involves spinning and moving the ball around your head, and body in a circular motion. You can also do this around your waist and around your legs if you like.
I love this drill because it really gets you and your hands used to the feel and touch of a basketball while also improving your skills in the process.
Ball sprints is a drill, where you dribble up and down the court as fast as you can. I do recommend this drill at about 1-2 reps at a time, with long rest breaks in between.
Doing this drill at high speeds, allows you to get a feel for the ball under intense circumstances, which in turn will make all other situations much easier when you're dribbling a basketball.
Pro Tip: With this drill, I also recommend doing combos, and other moves, like a behind-the-back dribble or between the legs, once you feel comfortable doing so.
Two-ball dribbling is exactly as it sounds. It involves dribbling two basketballs simultaneously at once.
This could be done in a stationary situation, or it can be done moving up a down the court. This can be very hard and I only recommend this to more advanced players.
If you start to get more comfortable with this drill you can add other variables to this drill, like moving the balls around, and even doing ball sprints with two balls at the same time.
For more tips on two-ball handling, workout check out the video below
-Tennis Ball Drill
A tennis ball dribbling drill is very similar to the two ball-handling drills except, instead of another basketball in your hand you use a tennis ball.
In this drill, I only recommend doing this while stationary, and to do this if you feel comfortable doing so. You can do this drill by dribbling a basketball in one hand while throwing the tennis ball to yourself in your other hand.
Many high-level players do this drill because it improves their hand-eye, which in turn will improve your feel for the ball.
8. Change Of Speeds
It's one thing to be able to handle the ball slowly in practice, it is a whole another thing to dribble effectively when you changing speeds and exploding off a dribble.
So that is why as a player you need to be able to learn how to dribble when you're going from slow to fast. Because frankly, that is when a lot of your scoring opportunities are going to happen.
Pro Tip: Another thing a player must learn, is not just how to dribble when accelerating, but how to dribble when decelerating.
Although basketball is a game of quick movements, sometimes we forget we need to be able to quickly stop as well.
Tips To practicing changing speeds
playing one on one in basketball is great for trying new things out and getting used to new situations, that you can implement into games.
So when practicing changing speeds in this game, focus on really exploding off your dribble, so you can get used to that while a defender is there.
-Rip Through Drill
This simple drill involves driving to the basket multiple times in a set.
When driving to the basket, you can either due to this off a triple threat, or do this while dribbling up to the basket before you explode.
When doing this work on really exploding to the basket. ALmost exaggerate how much change of speed you get when you do this, so you make the practice and drill a little harder.
I recommend overexaggerating so this becomes easier in a competitive setting.
9. Dribble Everywhere
If you are a person who loves the game, and has to walk to a lot of different places, or has access to a basketball wherever you are, then the most effective way to improve your handles is to dribble everywhere you go.
This does not have to be fancy or complicated dribbles, it can just be for fun. The more reps and the more you get used to a ball in your hands, the easier dribbling will get for you overall.
10. Dribble In Multiple Situations
In order to really call yourself a player with good handles, you need to be able to dribble in multiple different situations and circumstances.
Below are examples of situations you need to master to become an effective dribbler.
Dribbling backward is one of the lost arts in basketball, it can get you out of bad situations (like a trap) and allow you to set up your moves better while getting space from your defenders.
An easy way to practice this is by doing some of the drills I mentioned above, but just doing them backward.
- Splitting Screens
This skill is something that can really separate you from the average ball-handler. If you are a player who can master this skill, then teams will have a very hard time guarding you, especially in the pick and roll.
Pro Tip: When doing this in basketball, I've noticed it's easiest to do when you are low and dribble the ball hard, as this allows you to keep the ball in your hand much longer.
For more information on how to split a screen check out the video below.
- Handling pressure
This is a situation, in which a lot of players can get very rattled and nervous on the court. In order to handle these situations, you need to switch your attitude and attack them instead of having them dictate and attack you.
If you do not feel comfortable doing that yet, you can use your body and put that in between you and the ball, so you do not have to dribble it in front of your defender's hands and arms.
11. Have A Go-To Move
It is important to have a go-to move and counter because that is something you can base all your other dribbles on.
Having a basic go-to move gives you structure and a certain level of comfort you can have when dribbling A basketball.
For example, if one of your defenders is pressuring upon you, you can be calm in that situation, and go to the move you feel comfortable with.
I'm saying to have no other dribbles in the arsenal, I am just saying it helps a lot to have certain moves you can go to in any situation.
Examples Of Go-To Moves
-Between The Legs
- Behind The Back
12. Keep Your Head Up
Keeping your head up allows for you to see the floor better, and it allows you to read your defender better and set up your move.
While I agree this can be hard for a beginner to learn, I do feel like you need to get used to keeping your head up to really become an effective ball handler.
How To Work On This
The easiest way to work on this is by making sure you do every drill with your head up looking at the court instead of the ball.
This is easier said than done but after a while, if you start to break the habit and get used to it, then keeping your head up will seem second nature to you after a while.
13. Protect The Ball
Being able to protect the ball against your defender is a vital skill especially for point guards who bring the ball up and down the court, against pressure defense.
Some easy ways to protect the ball are arms bars and keeping your body in between you and the ball.
Magic Johnson was excellent at using these techniques against his opponents. Even though he was not the quickest, he was still able to use his body to protect the ball against other smaller guards.
14. Improve Flexibility And Mobility
Flexibility and mobility can be vital for a player looking to improve their dribbling because it allows you to get in the proper stance and body position when you're looking to make a move or drive to the basket.
So when working out or doing conditioning exercises make sure you incorporate a good mobility workout into your routine.
I see a lot of players do the nesasarry steps to improve their dribbling on a physical level with practice and repetition, but for whatever reason, they cannot seem to put it together in competitive situations.
That is why it is important to have confidence, and the right attitude every time you dribble a basketball.
Remembering your work
This might sound simple, but knowing you did something once before makes it much easier to do it again no matter the circumstance.
Practice harder than you play
If you practice harder than you play then when you are in a game since you made it a much harder scenario it will seem much easier than it did in practice.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Can I do all these drills at home to improve my ball handling?
Answer: Yes absolutely, that is what is so great about dribbling, you can virtually do it anywhere at any time as long as you have just a little bit of space and a ball.
The only thing you might have to do is adjust the drills given how much space you have.
Question: How can I dribble a ball faster and with more pace?
Answer: The best thing that can help you dribble a ball faster, is to dribble the ball harder. This will bring the ball up faster to you and even make your moves much more effective.
Question: How long does it take to improve my ball handling?
Answer: It really depends honestly, if you're talking about just being okay, or average at ball handling, you can get there in a matter of a couple of weeks. But to get really good, and even great that can take months or years, and even then some players still never quite master it.
Ball handling can be a really hard skill to learn, but if you take some of the tips and tricks from this article you should be on your way to becoming a great dribbler in basketball.
Let me know some tricks and tips you'll use to dribble better in basketball.
As always thank you for reading, and keep hooping my friends.