20 Basketball Tips for Dribbling to Improve Your Ball Handling

Every player needs basketball tips for dribbling. Dribbling in basketball is defined as the legal method of advancing the ball by oneself as opposed to passing it to another player or shooting for the basket. Players bounce the ball on the floor while walking or running down the court.

Dribbling is the most fundamental element of the game of basketball. Dribbling is the means to advance on the court, manipulate opponents and get past them, and achieve the basic goal of the game – scoring points by putting the ball through the hoop.

Thus, improving the basketball dribble is like improving strokes in swimming, the swing in golf, or skating in ice hockey. It is elemental to becoming an all-around player that can contribute to the team and win games.

How Dribbling Improves Your Performance

Dribbling starts with bouncing the ball up and down with the fingertips and pads of the hands without looking at the ball. Skilled players can keep their head up at all times. All players should learn to dribble equally well with both hands.

Ball handling has often been relegated to the point guard as the only one who should be skilled in ball handling. While the point guard handles the ball often, they should not be considered the sole ball handler. All players can benefit from dribbling expertise to enable better shooting, boxing out and rebounding.

Basketball tips for dribbling apply to all players that want to improve their game. Previously, taller players didn’t need excellent dribbling skills since they were typically relegated to work near or around the basket. Today, centers and power forwards often dribble the ball up the court against multiple defenders, shoot jump shots from behind the three-point line, and make offensive moves that require good ball handling.

To become more valuable to the team, all players, regardless of height or position, should develop good ball handling skills. Often, the difference between good teams and great teams is in the depth of their ability to handle the ball.

20 Basketball Tips for Dribbling

1) Working on the basic dribbling technique

The basic basketball tip for dribbling is done by cupping the fingers spread comfortably with the dribble being a push-pull motion of the arm, wrist, and fingers. Start the dribble with an elbow extension and flex of the fingers and wrist. As the ball bounces back up, meet it with your fingers.

Your wrist will absorb the force. Control of the ball comes from the fingers and pads of the hands, below the fingers. Palms are not used to dribbling a basketball in most circumstances. Practice dribbling with your hand the following areas of the ball: directly on top, in front, behind, right side and left side.

2) Controlling the low dribble

This basketball tip for dribbling is when the player is closely guarded. The body is kept between the body and the ball and the defender. This dribble is done at knee level or lower, and slightly away from the body, so the defender has more difficulty attacking the ball. Advance the ball with a step and slide movement.

Advanced players will be able to raise their non-dribbling arm and keep their dribbling arm close to their body. Dribbling with the head up and not looking at the ball will enable the dribbler to spot open teammates or openings to advance the ball.

3) Creating speed through the high dribble

High dribbling is an advancement strategy to move the ball up the court quickly, drive to the basket, or follow a steal in the open court. The body is kept almost fully erect, and by leaning over slightly, the dribbling arm is extended fully, pushing the ball out in front.

The ball in this basketball tip for dribbling is near waist level or even higher to maintain speed. As we’ve mentioned previously, keeping the head up and looking forward rather than down at the ball will increase confidence in this technique and others.  

4) Crossing over into the crossover dribble

Players confronted with a defensive situation of an attacking player can use this dribble to change direction quickly. The dribbler pushes away from their dribbling side towards the opposite foot and bounces the ball across the body while flicking the wrist and fingers.

Optimal performance in this technique included flicking the ball with the dribbling hand by pushing from slightly outside the ball. This is a low bounce dribble maneuver for speed and elusiveness. The step with the foot on the receiving side of the receiving hand will allow the ball to go on a short hop.
Quickness is important with this basketball dribbling fundamental. Players should watch for ball exposure to the defending player if this basketball tip for dribbling is not done correctly.

5) Change direction with the reverse dribble

Another change of direction technique is the reverse dribble. If the aforementioned crossover dribble cannot be used because of defensive positioning, this dribble can be used to spin away while keeping the body between the defender and the ball.

Advanced players can perform this dribble without losing sight of teammates and the basket. This dribble comprises moving right to ultimately go left. The left foot pivots as the player spins in the opposite direction with their back to the defender. Obviously, this dribble can go in the opposite direction.  

6) Change your pace with the change-of-pace dribble

Adjusting speeds while dribbling is another smart way to avoid defensive challenges, especially in an open space on the court. The deception here is the key as the defender believes the dribbler is slowing down, but the speed is increased quickly. As the player slows down, the body is straightened slightly, and the left foot is planted.

Creating the illusion that the player will stop is the key to this basketball tip for dribbling. Speeding up quickly with a low dribble as mentioned before will enable the player to proceed past the defender. Good dribblers will practice this by adjusting speed in their dribble many times.

7) Dribbling backward with the behind-the-back

There are other change-of-direction moves to consider. Dribbling with the right hand, the player slides their hand to the outside the ball and puts their weight on their right foot. It starts with flicking the ball behind the back above the back of the knee and across the back of the thigh as the left foot moves forward.

Catching the ball with the opposite hand and continuing dribbling are the final elements of this deceptive maneuver. The left leg should be forward enough, so the ball has room to go under the legs and back into the hand for a smooth transition.

8) Slowing it down with the pull-back dribble

Unfortunately, in basketball, the player will ultimately find that there are no more dribbles to effective outmaneuver the defensive. Often the dribbler will encounter two or more players in front.

Essentially, this is another change-of-pace move to stop and take two steps backward away from the defense. An effective dribble after going backward would be the step-slide movement by pushing off the front foot and sliding back with the rear.

10) No surrender with the retreat dribble

Also known as the push-pull dribble, the ball is dribbled at a moderate height forward and back in a rocking movement. Using the right hand, the player makes a stance with their left foot in front while the right foot is to the rear and the knees bent. To dribble the ball back and front, place the hand on top and towards the front of the ball, and then push the ball to the back.

11) Figure out the figure 8 pattern dribble

Basketball tips for dribbling can be fun and creative too. This dribble forms a figure 8 pattern through legs. Standing with feet apart, the player begins dribbling the ball using the right hand in front and then through the legs, switching with the left hand and then from the back, around the left side to the front and then back through the legs.

The right hand is behind the body and around the right side. This dribble is best done with a low stance and quick ball maneuvering without losing control. Quicken the speed when you become better in this dribble drill.

12) Crossover to the killer cross

The killer crossover is done by combining one between the legs dribble with one crossover. Start the move while moving forward toward a defender. Attempting a between-the-legs dribble with a right foot plant should make the defender lean/lunge to the right expecting the player to go right. Staying on the planted right foot, complete a right to left crossover, pushing off that right foot to explode left.

13) Double trouble with the double inside out

This move combines two inside-out dribbles to confuse the defense. The first inside-out dribble should go one way and as soon as the ball comes up to reach across with the left hand and pull it back to the left. This can also be done going the other direction. The deception here is key and advanced dribblers can incorporate change-of-pace or other tricky moves to “sell” the move to the defender.  
 

14) Jump around with the jump stop dribble

This dribble takes advantage of the two-step before shooting rule in basketball. Use either foot to pivot with the alternate foot and take a step/jab-step. A jump-stop can be done by picking up your dribble at the end of the drive and in the same motion hopping laterally toward another spot on the floor before shooting the ball.

This helps the player quickly transport themselves into a better scoring position and hopefully loses a defender at the same time. The player must start the jump stop immediately after they’ve discontinued the dribble to avoid a traveling penalty.

15) Going up and under

Basketball tips for dribbling include ways to keep opponents from blocking shot after dribbling to a complete stop. Once stopped and a shot-blocker has emerged, launch into the air and extend the ball as if attempting a lay-in. As the defensive player reaches up for the block, bring the ball back down, ducking the body under their arm to glide toward the basket. Bring the ball back up in a scooping motion and try to spin the ball into the basket.
 

Basketball Tips for Dribbling – Drills 

16) Double it up with two-ball dribbling

Dribbling two balls at one time helps players develop ball control. They can also become stronger at dribbling with their non-dominant hand. Players have more flexibility in a game when they can comfortably dribble with either hand.

The drill starts by dribbling both balls in unison, then switching, so the balls are hitting the ground at opposite times. Repeat the drill with the player moving down the court.

17) Move around with the zigzags drill

Dribbling in a zigzag pattern gives players a chance to practice changing directions as they dribble. In a game situation, this skill proves useful to avoid players on the opposite team. The players start at one corner of the gym with a basketball. They dribble diagonally across the gym.

When they reach the opposite side, they change directions, moving diagonally toward the other side of the gym to create a giant zigzag. Continue the zigzag pattern down the length of the gym. Another option is to have the zigzag on one side of the gym, using an invisible line down the middle of the gym as the other boundary.

18) Count to the figure 8 dribbling drill

This is a drill to practice ballhandling. Dribble the ball as quickly as possible in figure 8 through and around the legs. Switch from the right to the left and back to the right. Example: start with the right hand dribbling the ball in front and then dribble through the legs with the right-hand, then switch to the left hand and dribble from the back, around the left side to the front and back through the legs.

19) V-Dribble in front

Start with the right hand and dribble once on the right side. Then dribble the ball in front as if to cross over to the left side. Roll the right hand over the top of the ball and bring it back to the right. This drill is important to get the feel of rolling the hand over the top of the ball and can help with the “in-and-out” dribble move.

20) Leg Circles

Players start with their feet shoulder-width apart. They dribble with their right hand around their right leg and then with their left hand around their left leg. Players will then put their feet together and use both hands to dribble around their legs.

They will then go down on their knees and use both hands to dribble around their body. Players will then bring one knee up and keep one knee down. They dribble the ball around their body and under their leg and then switch leg positions and repeat.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are a plethora of basketball tips for dribbling. By mastering the many types of dribbles, and practicing them with the appropriate drill will make a better all-around player. 

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