Basketball dribbling is a skill every player needs to know, whether in great detail, such as your point guard, or just enough to make a controlled power move down low, as your center would. So at the beginning of the pre-season, we teach basic dribbling skills to everyone. And once the basic skills are learned, we need to reinforce them through solid dribbling drills.
Ballhandling drills are especially important early in the pre-season, as more practice given in the early days will help instill good fundamentals as second nature in players that will hopefully last throughout the season
Be sure to include a mix of ballhandling drills in your practices focusing on basic skills work in the early preseason, and then regular integration of these drills in practices throughout the preseason and season, especially if you notice players’ fundamentals slipping.
To be truly effective, basketball dribbling drills need to focus on the following things:
- Good technique – eyes up and not down at the floor, ball handled with the fingertips and not the palm, body low when guarded closely, free hand out to protect the ball
- Provide ball handling practice for both hands
- Simulate game situations – to apply strong defensive pressure to force the ball handler to be creative, to protect the ball, to make smart decisions
Of course, not all drills will have all these elements, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing – players need to know how to perform the basic dribbling techniques reasonably well before they can try to perform them under pressure, so at the beginning you should use drills that focus more on technique and not so much on game-situation.
Basketball Dribbling Drills
How to Develop Control and Speed
To begin with, the 8 Chairs dribbling drill is a great way to focus on developing good technique without the pressure of defense. The Control to Breakaway Dribble is another good drill for focusing on basics, in this case, on control dribbling moves like crossovers and reverse dribbles, and then speed dribbling as well.
To help players understand how to use their control moves when driving to the hoop, use the Crossover to the Hoop drill – although the name says crossover, you can use any of the basic dribbles in this drill – crossover, reverse, behind the back, side-on.
Once players have gained good control of their basic dribbling skills, we can add some defense to make the drills more game-like. The Full Court 1-on-1 drill is a great drill that does double-duty – it is a good way to add pressure to the ballhandler as he is practicing his dribbling skills, and an excellent defensive drill for teaching defensive movement.
And of course, there is always the favorite of many youth coaches – the Knock Away drill, which is a fun drill for players of all ages while creating pressure on ballhandlers to protect the ball.
Proper mechanics are exceptionally important when running dribbling drills, and they must be enforced at all times, especially at the beginning of the pre-season.
A player with the ball who has his head down, staring at the floor, will not see a teammate open; a player not using his free hand to protect the ball will soon have it stolen from him; and a player who is able to dribble with only one hand is limited in his offensive effectiveness.
Enforce good technique, and have players practice what would happen in a game situation – the more they practice situational responses, the better their basketball dribbling skills will become, and the more prepared and confident they will be when game time arrives.