How to Dribble a Basketball

Fundamentals go a long way, but dribbling a basketball is one of the most important components of the game. It does not matter if you are a guard, forward, or center. In today’s world, basketball has shown signs of evolving into a quicker game. Even traditional post players are seen shooting more from outside. This evolution confirms that it’s important to know how to dribble a basketball. These tips will hopefully help any player at any position who wants to better their skills.

How to Dribble a Basketball

​Dribbling a basketball is the legal method of advancing the ball in the game of basketball. By continuously working on being a better dribbler, you will improve your all around game.

Use Correct Body Posture

​Dribbling a basketball is not just in the arms. Just like in free throw shooting, the complete body needs to be precise in order to execute perfection when dribbling. When all the parts of the machine, or your body in this case, are moving together, then successful outcomes will proceed. It’s called being fundamentally sound.

Starting with your head, keep your head up at all times. Look at the rim or straight down the floor. Use your peripheral vision to see who is on the wing. Use your imagination and picture when and how you would use each of the dribbles you have.

Man dribbling the basketball

​Use your finger tips to control the ball, and not your palm. Dribble the ball hard with your hand to develop control. Most importantly, practice quick feet. Your dribble is not the only part that gets you to the hoop. Your feet complete the hard part. Your dribble moves the ball as well.

Have Proper Form

​When it comes to form, there are 3 main points that players want to work on when dribbling a basketball:

  1. Keep the ball close: Players want to keep the ball dribbled at waist high maximum. This also includes keeping the ball within a 45-degree angle of your arm within your space.
  2. Use your finger tips: When you take a jump shot, the ball shoots off your finger tips. Your fingertips control where the ball goes. This is no different than dribbling. Players should be advised to keep the ball away from their palm as much as possible.
  3. Push your elbow through: Players should try to lower their shoulder while dribbling, so that you can establish more power when dribbling. By using your shoulder, you are taking off pressure from your wrist. Your wrist is not strong enough to develop a strong dribble. Using your shoulder will sustain a stronger dribble for a longer period of time.

Learn to Dribble with Two Hands

​You have two hands. Use them! In basketball, only being able to dribble with one hand will likely send you to the bench. It is important to be able to move up and down the court on both the right and left hand sides.

In order to develop control over the ball, coaches or players can implement the “Balloon Drill” into their practices. This drill helps players develop control over the ball, while keeping their eyes and heads up.

Players can perform this drill by holding a balloon while dribbling to start. When ready, the player will throw the balloon in the air, and hit the balloon across the court while dribbling. Coaches can have players race each other, or have a “Last Man Standing” roulette.

Drills that Develop Both Hands for Dribbling

​The drills below are fundamental practice drills that coaches can use at practice to develop player with dribbling. These skills will help teach you how to dribble.

Power Dribble

​​The player will need two basketballs for both hands. The player will stand in a near sitting position. The player will slam the ball to the ground and then regroup dribbling. The player will do this ten times for one set.

3-1

​The player will start by dribbling with their right hand. Then, dribble between the legs. Then, dribble behind the back. Then, do a crossover. This is finished by going strong to the basket to shoot a layup. This can be done five times for each hand.

Five minute circle

​The player will have five minutes and run around in circle doing as many dribbling moves as possible successfully. This can be a speed dribble, cross over, behind the back, etc.

Zig Zag Dribbling

​Cones are placed on both sides. On the right side, the player will zig zag around the cones with the right hand. The player will use the left hand on the right. Coaches can include various moves into the dribbling for more advanced players.

Banana Squeeze

​Players begin by placing the basketball in one hand. The player will take their other hand and squeeze the ball out of the other hand in repeat. Players can do this ten times.

Develop Hesitation

​This is a type of skill that guards will want to have when dribbling a basketball. The guard will dribble at the defense quickly and then stutter brake to stop. The guard will remain in his stance. The guard will keep their dribble to the outside and shield with the other hand. After a short pause, the guard will dribble past the defender with an explosion of speed.

Importance of Hesitation

​When trying to put the pieces together, follow this formula: speed dribble-brake-speed dribble. Developing a hesitation skill set will help a dribbler adjust when needing to speed up and slow down. Momentum shifts in basketball are common, so being prepared will only make the guard better.

Guards can develop this skill set by practicing with cones on the court. One court one-third down the court can signify speed dribble. The next cone will be the brake cone with a final cone and different angles of the court can be placed to mean explosion.

Ways to Develop Hesitation Moves

​Houston Rockets point guard, Chris Paul, has one of the top hesitation moves in the NBA. When analyzing the move, these are some of the tips to develop a move when dribbling a basketball.

  1. Change speeds-this keeps the defense off balance and provides separation between you to the basket.
  2. Stay low-keep the hips down to promote an ideal position to explode past the defense
  3. Ball stays outside-this provides protection from the defense
  4. Look up-you have to sell where you going, so you can make a move on the defender
  5. Explode-power off your back foot and take off towards the basket
  6. Push ball in front of you-this will keep the defender off from making a steal

Understand Types of Basketball Dribbling

There are many ways to teach yourself how to dribble better. In a game, there are 6 major reasons why someone will dribble a basketball. A true ball handler will do his or her best to understand when and when not to dribble. A poor dribbler can potentially hurt the team by killing their momentum or motion.

​The 6 main reasons why a ball handler will dribble include:

  • ​Advancing the ball up the floor
  • ​Driving to the basket
  • ​Getting open for a shot
  • ​Opening up the lane for other shooters
  • ​Getting out of a trap
  • Killing the clock

In order to develop an understanding of these skills, a ball handler needs to understand the different types of dribbling. When a player practices these types of dribbling, their chances of understanding in-game situations will grow. Here are the 4 main types of dribbling:

Two boys in an outdoor court playing basketball

Control Dribbling

This occurs when the defender is up and close. The player wants to keep the ball low and behind them. Avoid arm bars because that could lead to a charging foul.

Speed Dribbling

This is when the player pushes the ball forward in a sprint fashion. This happens in transition. Keep the ball dribbled at waist high. The player will want to keep their head up and visualize down the court to see where their teammates are.

Crossover

This is when the player switches hands. The player will dribble in one hand and then bounce the ball towards the other side, so the opposite hand is now in control. Players use the crossover when wanting to change directions.

Spin Move

When wanting to spin, reverse pivot of your front foot. Turn with the shoulder and pull the ball hard across your body. You will want to avoid having your hand be under the ball, or that will result in a “carry.”

How to Become a Better Dribbler

At the LeBron James Academy, kids were taught basic skills on how to control dribble. The skills stressed power dribbling and controlling where the basketball goes when it comes up from the bounce. The instructor also emphasized correct posture and the correct stance when controlling the dribble.

Speed dribbling does not just mean changing speeds, but being able to change directions at a fast pace as well. In this drill, the instructor teaches players how to speed up and down, while also practicing at max speed. When players practice dribbling a game speed, then the player is more likely to be able to put the product on the court in a game.

Kyrie Irving has one of the deadliest crossover moves in the NBA. The University of Duke product and former No. 1 overall pick has shown he put in the time to develop that move. For more advanced dribblers, developing this move to your repertoire could make you even better.

​When practicing the cross over, a major tip is getting the defense to come to you. Once the defender plays close to you, a slight hesitation move to a cross over can separate you. This would likely lead to a layup.

Finally, when trying to develop a spin move, the player should focus on two important concepts.. First, the player wants to keep the ball closer to your body as possible. By doing so, you will spin quicker compared to the ball being more outward. Second, the player will want to keep your legs straight and in as possible. This also leads to quickness and a faster spin.

Study the Art of Dribbling a Basketball

​Curious how to dribble a basketball faster? There are hundreds of drills that can make a player a better ball handler. In a day and age where technology is at our fingertips, watching videos of present and former players is one of the best ways to develop as a ball handler.

These are professionals who have spent hours in the gym perfecting their craft. Some of the all time greats include Allen Iverson, Steve Nash, Jason Williams, Peter “Pistol Pete” Maravich, Tim “Killer Crossover” Hardaway, and Nick “The Quick” Van Exel.

YouTube has millions of videos at your disposal. Search old highlight videos of players. Just watch and enjoy the game. You might learn something.

Top 10 Current NBA Players to Study for Dribbling

The names below are all players that are out of the league. In today’s NBA, there are plenty of stars that know how to handle a basketball. Below are some of the best current players an athlete should watch to help develop their own sense of dribbling.

10. Mike Conley-Memphis Grizzlies

Conley is a former Ohio State product that signed the largest NBA contract for a guard at the time. Conley averaged a league low 2.2 turnovers a game in 2015.

9. Ty Lawson-China

This is the one player that is not in the NBA, but he is on this list. Three years ago, Lawson was a near All-Star caliber of guard for the Denver Nuggets before injuries derailed his career and forced him to go to China.

8. Kemba Walker-Charlotte Hornets

The former NCAA Champion out of the University of Connecticut has one of the better crossovers in the league. Not to mention, he is also one of the best speed dribblers in getting to the rim.

7. Tony Parker-Charlotte Hornets

Parker might be on the wrong side of 30, but you cannot deny his greatness. He is still playing, but his ability to deceive defenders in his prime was some of the best ball handling in the league.

6. Rajon Rondo-Los Angeles Lakers

Rondo led the league in assists three years ago when he played for the Sacramento Kings. Rondo is one of the best dribblers in terms of bring the defense to him. Combine that with is ability to find open players, Rondo is a pure floor general.

5. Jamal Crawford-Phoenix Suns

Another player who is so high based on his reputation. Crawford used to be nicknamed “J-Crossover.” His ability to get open and his a step back three is why he is a multi-Sixth Man of the Year award recipient.

4. Chris Paul-Houston Rockets

As mentioned above, Paul has one of the best hesitation moves in the league. Paul has the ability to deceive defenders to provide separation from him to the basket.

3. James Harden-Houston Rockets

The Rockets have a luxury with two All-Star guards. While Paul’s bread and butter is hesitation, Harden has one of the best dribble-drive moves to the basket that the league has seen in years. The 2018 MVP can really accelerate and get to the rim quickly.

2. Stephen Curry-Golden State Warriors

“Chef Curry” knows how to bake up a wide open three point shot. This comes from perhaps the league’s best behind the back crossover move. How many times have defenders been burned by this move? Too many to count.

1. Kyrie Irving-Boston Celtics

If you really want to have fun, watch Irving’s handles with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Irving is a mastermind in the paint with the ball. He has some of the best control dribbling once three defenders surround him in the lane.

Overall, each person will have their own opinion of who is the best dribbler. Each player has their own unique talent. Pay attention to what works for the player and try to replicate what they do on your own. There are videos that will break each step down, so take advantage of it!

Put in the Work

​Dribbling a basketball is difficult. Think about all these components that go into dribbling a basketball. You have to have correct posture. You have to be able to perform with both hands. You have various moves while dribbling. It can feel like it is a lot.

Anything is possible with hard work, though. Guards or post players, both need to be able to dribble a basketball. The game of basketball is changing and gearing towards a league where running up and down the court is the new norm of basketball, the same reason why players need to be wearing the right basketball shoes for them in order to perform better.

That means even bigs needs to know how to dribble a ball. Players should be prepared to set aside time each time they practice to develop ball handling skills. By putting in the work, you are likely to see better dribbling results.

Be Patient and Set Goals

​Finally, be prepared to have a long wait. It takes years to develop from a beginner to an advanced ball dribbler. Rome was not built in a day, so you should not expect to be a pro if you cannot dribble with your non-dominant hand.

Set a goal for yourself. It could be as simple as dribbling with your other hand to develop a speed dribble. By setting a goal, you are working towards something you want to achieve. Once you reach that goal, you can set a new goal. Each goal you reach will be progress and you will want to keep getting better.

Every goal will be different, but do not give up on your goal the first time you fail. Be prepared to lose the ball when you practice. It will be okay. You will have to fail sometimes in order to get better. It is all apart of the process.

Dribbling Violations

​A true player who wants to develop dribbling a basketball is aware of the violations that come with the job. There are three main types of dribbling violations in the game of basketball. These include double-dribble, traveling, and carrying. All of these violations results in a turnover.

Double Dribbling

​Double-dribble is when the player dribbling comes to a stop and picks up the ball with two hands. The rules state that a player can only pick up the basketball one time after the dribble has begun. If the player puts the ball on the floor again, that is considered double-dribble.

Traveling

​Traveling is when the player moves the basketball without dribbling. Traveling occurs the most frequent when a player is dribbling quickly, or trying to accelerate from a starting position. A player is granted two quick steps when dribbling hard into the lane while the dribble is live. If the player does not put the ball on the floor, but moves, it would be considered a travel.

Carrying

​Carrying is when the player makes a turn and the player’s hand is under the basketball. This could be described as physically carrying the ball from one point to another. As long as the hand of the player is on top of the basketball, a carrying violation will not be whistled.

Conclusion

​There are so many great resources on the Internet that can help a player develop in terms of dribbling a basketball. There is so much that goes into the art. Use what is disposable to you. Most importantly, believe in yourself and keep working at it. Do not quit, and you will be rewarded with positive results.

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