Basketball is without a doubt one of the most loved and played sports in the world. The popularity and brand value of NBA, which currently stands at $1 billion for every franchise, is an evidence of that for sure. Millions of young children in the country dream of representing their favorite basketball team or nation. In the following article, we describe the best basketball ball handling drills for both beginners and professionals.
If you want to take it to the next level, you cannot excel without practice, dedication, and impetuous passion.
Among all the skills you’d have to master to get better at this game, basketball ball handling is the most important one. In fact, the team that’s more effective at ball-handling skills ends up on the winning side.
Ball handling is not just about what you do with it when you have possession. It also includes strategies on how you pass, how you shoot, and how you position yourself that will make you a complete basketball player.
From greats like Stefan Curry to your basketball coach to the guy who just like to play basketball, everyone practice basketball ball handling drills to improve their game. Here we’ll list down some of the best drills for you to practice to improve your basketball skills.
BasketBall Handling Drills for Youth/Beginners
To begin your basketball journey, you’d have to start off somewhere. These three drills mentioned below are for absolute beginners with the primary focus being getting comfortable with the ball. We also have a list of advanced basketball tactics.
Basketball hold drill
The most basic basketball drill with a focus on holding the ball the proper way. Young players learn to spread the finger, grip and slap the ball correctly, and try to keep their head up while doing so. Proper body positioning and movement are important. Coaches may advise the young players to increase the intensity or slap two balls simultaneously. This familiarizes the youths with the basic skill set required to develop the game.
Footwork is essential in the sport of basketball. The best performers use agile footwork to get into position, slash to the bucket, and finish with a deadly shot. It is necessary for both offensive and defensive players. Among the others, the popular ones are Stance and start, and V Cut drills. In the V cut, you literally fake your move towards the basket, while in the former drill, you learn the basics of spacing.
George Mikan drill
Named after the famous Basketballer, George Mikan, this drill is great for shooting near the basket. It is also an excellent warm-up drill for players of all levels. To begin this drill, players stand near the block facing the basket. Then jump and power the ball using the backboard. Then upon landing, jump once again and rebound the ball as high as possible.
Advanced basketball dribbling drills
When you’re comfortable with handling and slapping the ball, you’re free to perform these advanced basketball drills. The focus should still be on ball handling, but while you’re at it don’t forget to perform moves and keep your head up most of the time.
Two ball dribbling
When beginners are familiar with the ball gripping and slapping technique, they can perform the two ball dribbling drill where they practice stationary slapping with two balls, one in each hand. The focus should be primarily on the weaker hand to strengthen control at par with the naturally stronger hand. Variations such as dribbling with two balls in a straight or zig-zag line can be applied down the road.
One on One basketball Closeout (Cutthroat drill)
This drill puts players in a one-on-one situation and closeouts from which they try to beat the defender and score. The tricks you perform to beat the defender is either freestyle with players allowed to perform whichever move they want, or specific with coaches demanding a single move to beat the opponent. This exposes players to real-life game scenarios and teaches them how they can defend in such crucial moments of the game. This drill is crucial for defenders as well because they have to be alert and responsive to offensive’s tricks and moves.
Similar to the George Mikan drill mentioned in the “basketball ball handling drills for beginners section,” this drill requires the player to face away from the basket and not towards it. They’ll jump off with either the left or right foot, aim for the backboard, and then land. This is followed immediately with another jump with the opposite foot, grabbing the ball out of the net, and repeating the same technique. This greatly enhances hand-eye coordination and footwork at the same time.
In this advanced basketball drill, you get to learn the art of dribbling behind your back. It is the most effective trick while trying to beat a defender as he becomes visually impaired, giving you a chance to either fake or change directions. Start off with a ball in your right hand and step forward with your left leg while dribbling the ball. Switch course and start dribbling with your left hand. There are a lot of variations to it and you can include it in your freestyle moves.
5 Professional Basketball Ball Handling Drills
Once you’re acquainted with the basic ball-handling skills and can perform freestyle at ease, it’s time to up the ante and undergoes some professional basketball drills. It is advised to perform these drills under the watchful eyes of a coach.
As these are professional drills, the coach can ask players to really push their limits. Please note that most of the drills are team-centric and will require 5-6 players.
Chaos call outs
This pro drill forces the dribbler to hold his head up while dribbling, listening to instructions, and beating defenders all at the same time. This drill involves a set of 5-6 players and a coach. Players are split into offensive and defensive and the formers have the ball. They dribble around a designated area while defenders try to steal the ball, but the dribblers also have to keep an eye on the coach who takes a numbered-card. He has to call out the number while dribbling and avoiding defenders. The coach walks around the circle and holds up numbered cards for the players to call out loud.
This drill is designed particularly to improve ball-handling skills. It includes almost every move you’d be performing in a real basketball game. A set of cones are set in a zig-zag fashion, or in a combination of a coach’s preference. The players are then asked to dribble through the cones at a varying pace set by the coach, and then eventually finishing off with a throw. During the course, they get to perform all the moves like ball slaps, wraps, drops, straddle flip, spider dribble, machine gun, behind the back dribble among others.
As the name suggests, the players avoid getting tagged by other players while dribbling within a confined area. The coach selects one or two players as taggers who tag others in the group. Barring the taggers, all players are given a basketball. Once a player is tagged, he’s out for the duration of the round. This can be thought of as a basketball version of scarecrow tiggy. This is difficult because you are required to focus on the tagger and not on your dribble to avoid getting tagged. To increase the intensity, the coach can ask the players to dribble with two balls simultaneously!
Just like a parrot mimics its owner’s voice, the players in this drill are divided into pairs to mimic the moves of their respective partners. Two players stand at least 2 meters apart, with one as a leader and the other a follower. The leader then freely performs dribbling moves while remaining stationary and the follower tries to keep pace with him. Remember, a player must follow their partner and keep their head up all the time. After 30 seconds or so, players switch and the follower becomes the leader and vice versa.
Stationary Dribbling series
In this drill, players perform a series of stationary dribbling drills as dictated or performed by the coach. This drill specifically focuses on helping players improve their feel for the basketball. It forces them to keep their head up while ball-handling the way they want to. Each drill lasts for 20-30 seconds and the entire set could last for 10 minutes without any breaks in between.
As this is a professional drill, the coach can increase the intensity of the drill or bring variations of his own. Dribbling with two balls simultaneously is also an option.
While these drills alone won’t make you a basketball champion, you’ll certainly be in a good position to take it further with practice and dedication. With that said, basketball is truly a sport of passion and technique.