Who doesn’t want to have handles like Kyrie Irving, Chris Paul or Steph Curry? We all do right? The way to get there is by starting off with the basics and perfecting the fundamentals. Before these guys were dribbling between 3 defenders and throwing the alley-oop, they were doing the same drills I am going to lay out for you. Once you have a solid foundation the possibilities become endless and the game becomes much easier. Every team needs a player who can break down the defense and create a shot for themselves or an open opportunity for a teammate. That player could be you.
Basic Ball Handling
The first few drills are simple, start on the baseline and take two dribbles to the right and change direction. Before you change direction use a crossover, between-the-legs or behind-the-back move to propel you the opposite way. Take two dribbles to the right, crossover to the left, take two dribbles to the left, crossover to the right and repeat. Do that drill at half-speed the full length of the court for every move. Then do the same drill at full-speed for every move. Once you feel comfortable, try a combination where you mix them up and imagine defense is on you.
This drill is great for warming-up even when you become advanced but the number one rule to becoming a great ball handler is dribbling every single day. You should not go a day without dribbling a basketball or at least having one in your hands. Doing this drill twice a week or three times a week will not make you a good ball handler. It needs to be something you do on a consistent basis.
For the players who have passed the beginning stages and are ready to take their handles to the next level, I have something for you. Do the same drill I described above, but with two balls instead of one. Start off slow and gain the rhythm because it will be foreign to the body at first, but as you practice it will get easier. If you can do that drill, full speed with two balls? You will be ready for anything the defense has to throw at you.
Two-ball dribbling is a great drill for increasing hand-eye coordination and confidence when dribbling the ball. This is why you see the likes of Steph Curry and Rajon Rondo doing it before games. Gaining a feel for the ball so when they step in front of a defender with one, it is easy as pie.
All of the moves in the world will be a waste if you aren’t effective. If being a great ball-handler meant who could do the most moves, then a lot of guys at the park would be in the NBA. The problem with them is they are not effective with their dribbles. Each dribble should have a purpose and at the higher level, if you cannot generate a shot in 3 dribbles or less then you are not a scorer. Very few players (besides point guards) have the green light from their coach to take more than 3 or 4 dribbles to create a shot. The key to being a great ball handler is knowing when and how to use them. The best only use the extra stuff when it is absolutely necessary. Be effective and efficient, trust me your coach will love you for it.
After going through the drills and perfecting the fundamentals, make sure you test them out against live defense. Plenty of players can do drills well, but few can have the same confidence against real defense. Dribble every day and play as often as possible!