How To Dribble A Basketball
When a basketball player can dribble the basketball really well it makes them stand out on the basketball court. They aren’t necessarily using fancy dribble moves, but they are dribbling with confidence, using smart dribbles to get by their defender, and taking care of the ball by not turning it over.
Yes, when a player dribbles between their legs, behind their back, or breaks a defender’s ankles they’ll start getting the crowd’s approval and applause, but ultimately it’s the appreciation of the skill it takes to dribble the basketball. Not every player has what it takes to be great at dribbling a basketball, but with some motivation and commitment; you can become a great ball handler!
It doesn’t happen overnight – it will take serious practice – but if you’re willing to work hard then you will see the results. We’re going to breakdown the basics for you to get started improving your game which includes: the correct dribbling technique, the best dribbling moves to master, the drills to execute repeatedly, and some of the game’s top players to study.
Now let’s get to work!
How to Dribble a Basketball Correctly
First things first, we’re going to start from the very beginning. As a basketball player, you have to know how to dribble the basketball the correct way. If you’ve been dribbling any other way than the way we’re about to share with you; stop doing it your way and do it the right way.
Start and remain in a low stance. When you start dribbling, you want to be low so that you can dribble the basketball low as well. The lower you are the more difficult it makes it for your defender to steal the ball from you. Make sure you’re bending your knees – this gives you mobility while you dribble.
Use your fingertips. As you dribble, you want to use your fingertips and NOT your palm. You want your hands to have control over the ball as it bounces and your fingertips make sure that happens. Spread your fingers out across the basketball’s surface as you dribble so you have a wide and balanced contact area.
Bounce the ball against the ground. With your dominant hand, push the ball down so that it bounces off the ground. You want to bounce it firmly, but not so hard that you can’t control it. As the ball hit the grounds and comes back up to your hand, you want to push it back down with your fingertips in a controlled motion.
TIPS ON HOW TO DRIBBLE A BASKETBALL:
- Keep your hand on top of the ball. Each time the ball bounces up to you, it’s important to keep control of it. The palm of your hand should be directly over the ball so that as your dribbling the ball bounces right into your fingertips.
- Dribble the basketball low to the ground. This should be easy if you’re already in that low stance. Stay in your low position, bend your knees, and dribble the ball low to the ground to keep it protected.
- Keep your eyes up. When you’re dribbling the ball, you do NOT want to be looking down; instead you want your eyes up at all times. With your eyes focused up, you’ll be able to survey the court and see if there’s an open pass to a teammate or lane for you beat your defender off the dribble.
Once you get this down with your dominant hand, start using your weaker hand. If you want to be an all-around player, you have to be able to dribble with either hand! Work on your correct dribble technique while you’re in triple threat position and then practice it while you’re going up and down the court. On top of dribbling with both hands, you need to be dribbling correctly whether you’re in one spot or dribbling up the court.
How to Become a Better Dribbler
Now that you know how to dribble correctly it’s time to take what you’ve learned and get better at it. In order to improve, you have to practice! There are many ways to work on your dribble but we’re going to focus on 2 categories: stationary drills and on-the-move drills. These drills will help you get confident in your dribble, stronger with your dribble, and quicker at dribbling a basketball.
Basketball Dribbling and Ball Handling Drills
Stationary. With stationary drills, you’re going to stay in one place and these are great warm-up drills. There are countless stationary drills you can do to practice your dribbling but here are 5 of our favorites.
For each drill, start at a slow enough pace to get the drill under control then keep bumping up your pace until you’re dribbling as fast as you can. Example: 5 seconds - 50%, 10 seconds - 75%, 10 seconds - 100%.
- Ball Slaps. Start with the basketball in your left hand and bring your right hand over to slap the basketball. When you slap the ball, you’ll switch the ball to your right hand then take a hard dribble. As your dribble comes back up, bring your left hand over to slap the ball and switch to the left hand. After you switch hands, make a hard dribble. You’ll Continuously slap the basketball from one hand to the other with a dribble in between.
- Dribble V. Start in triple threat position and with the basketball in front of you dribble your ball from left to right. Your ball should bounce in the middle of your stance and should create the letter “v” when you go back and forth.
- Front-to-Back. Start in triple threat position with your body sideways and your arm bar out protecting the ball. Start with your ball in your dominant hand and dribble your ball front to back. This will essentially be a letter “v” as well but done with the front to back motion.
- Spider Dribble. Start in triple threat position and drop the ball in front of you. Hit the ball with your right hand and then your left hand. Then reach behind you and hit it with your right hand hand and left hand. You’ll continuously try to hit the ball in front of you with each hand and then from the back with each hand. See how long you can keep your dribble alive!
- Figure 8. Start in triple threat position with the ball in your right hand. Dribble the ball around your right leg and as it passes between your legs change over to your left hand. With your left hand, dribble around your left leg and as it passes between your legs switch back to your right hand. You’ll continuously change dribble around your legs and change between hands as the ball passes through your legs - this should create a Figure 8 motion.
On-the-Move. With on-the-move drills, you’re going to be moving with your dribble. Much like stationary drills, there are numerous on-the-move drills but here our 5 favorites that you can use as a solid foundation to continue progressing your dribbling skills.
You can do these drills in the half-court, full-court, sideline-to-sideline, baseline-to-free-throw, or any other segment of the court you choose.
- Crossover. As you’re dribbling the basketball, take a step with the foot that is on the same side as the basketball, push off that foot as if you’re going to go in that direction, and then push the basketball across the front of your body to the other side. Your basketball will essentially make the shape of a ‘v’ when you execute your crossover.
- Between the Legs. Dribble the basketball in your dominant hand and step with your opposite foot. As you step, push the basketball towards the ground in the space you’ve created between your feet. While this is happening, be ready to catch the ball in the same dribbling motion with your opposite hand.
- Behind the Back. As you’re dribbling the basketball, take a step with the foot that is on the same side as the basketball. As you do this, push the ball behind your back so that it hits the ground midway towards the opposite side of your body. When the ball is coming off the ground, you should be ready to begin dribbling with your opposite hand in the same motion. It’s essentially a crossover, but behind your back.
- In-and-Out.As you’re dribbling the basketball in your right hand, place your hand on the side of the ball and start to push it across your body. Then as you’re looking as if you’re going to continue that way push off your left foot and cut back to the right while you shift your hand over the ball and push it back to the right. The most important part of this move is selling it to your defender so be sure to use your head, eyes, and left leg like you’re going to change directions. If you sell this move, it will definitely get your defender off balance for you to get by them.
- Advance-Retreat. As you’re dribbling the basketball in your right hand take 3 big strides forward. After 3 strides forward, take 2 shorter steps back like you’re creating a little space between your defender. Then change speeds dribbling hard and fast forward again taking 3 big strides. After 3 strides forward, take 2 shorter steps back. You continue the 3 strides forward, 2 steps back as many time as the drill requires.
How to Dribble a Basketball Next Level
When you have mastered the stationary and on-the-move drills, it’s time to take it to the next level. Never stop doing these fundamental drills, but you need to work on these moves at an advanced level and here are some ways to make that happen.
- 2 Ball Dribbling Drills. If you think dribbling with one ball can be tough, try adding a second ball. At first this will feel really weird and every move will be difficult. Over time and practice, it will start to become second nature and your confidence in handling the ball will definitely increase.
- Tennis Ball Dribbling Drills. By using tennis ball while you’re practicing your dribbling skills it forces you to not watch yourself dribble. Your eyes have to be on the tennis ball or looking for the tennis ball. These type of drill will work on your reaction time and your ability to adjust in a matter of seconds.
- Dribble with a Defender. There’s ultimately no better way to get better with your dribble than going against defense. Bring a partner with you to the gym and play against each other. Start out with soft defense meaning the defense doesn’t try to steal the ball. After a couple of times, pick up the pace and have the defense try and steal it from you. It’s essentially playing one on one, but instead of having a goal to win the game focus on not turning the ball over while you dribble.
How to Dribble a Basketball Like A Pro
The only way to dribble a basketball like a pro is to study the pros. Who has the best handles in the NBA or WNBA? Several players come to mind - these are the people you need to be studying if you’re wanting to dribble a basketball like a pro - watch their games, search for their drills on youtube, and find ways to incorporate their moves into your game.
- Steph Curry. The 2-time MVP is a wizard with the basketball - he can use his dribble to break apart every type of defense.
- Kyrie Irving. If you want a killer crossover this is your guy - check out this video of him crossing over his defender.
- Sue Bird.Yes, ladies can dribble too and this player is the best point guard in the WNBA. Her dribbling skills have led her to 2 WNBA titles and 4 Olympic gold medals.
3 Dribbling Drills to Use