Basketball Tips – Coaching Ball Handling Skills

The best basketball tips any coach to take to heart is to focus on the fundamentals. When it comes to dribbling, to controlling the ball, perhaps that’s even more important than usual, since dribbling is a fundamental skill that every basketball player needs to know.

Basketball Tips

Every player on your team may not be taking the ball upcourt during games, but every player will need to dribble at some point. You may not expect every member of your team to be able to shoot a three pointer, but driving from the foul line without the ball going off their foot? That should be a given.

Be sure to teach dribbling skills well, either by including a mix of the drills that follow in your practices, or by using a stand alone program to help your players really excel.

Basketball Tips for Coaching Ballhandlling
Start with the Basics

The Control Dribble

So how do we teach all our players – big men included – how to dribble a basketball? Start with basic dribbling fundamentals. Every season, start off teaching the basics – including fundamental ball handling drills that teach your players how to control the ball whether they are passing, receiving the pass, dribbling, or shooting. These basics need to be drilled into every player every year, especially at the beginning of pre-season practices, since players tend to pick up bad habits from playing pick-up basketball over summer holidays.

Spend a few days drilling proper technique, reinforcing good dribbling fundamentals through the use of basic control dribble drills and speed dribble drills – and don’t neglect one for the other, as players need to know both. Be sure all players are reasonably competent with these basic skills.

Basketball Tips for Coaching Ballhandlling
Introducing Advanced Dribbling Moves

Speed Dribble

When you feel your players have a handle on fundamental dribbling skills, you can move on to introducing some more advanced dribbling moves. These may not be something you want every player to spend time on – guards and wings should know these moves for sure; big men probably wouldn’t get too much use out of them if they spend most of their time in the key.

It wouldn’t hurt to have everyone learn these moves at first, but then, when you have players perform the more advanced dribbling drills, you may be better off having your big men at the other end of the court working on offensive moves specific to the post position, like the drop step and baby hook.

Basketball Tips for Coaching Ballhandlling
Keep the Focus

Almost any player can become proficient at dribbling – maybe not excel at it, but definitely competent enough to drive to the hoop when the opportunity presents itself. But to do this requires decent instruction (that’s where you, the coach, comes in) and the determination to succeed, to focus and improve on the skill (this can only come from the player).

Magic Johnson – a big man who excelled at pretty much every position on the court and at 6’9″ was the tallest point guard in the league – would have his father drive him to school. He would sit in the back of the car, arm out the window, and dribble to school with his right hand and home from school with his left hand, having his father speed up and slow down so he could practice speed and control dribble.

That’s focus.

I suppose we can’t expect all our players to have that same focus on ballhandling (we can’t all be blessed with a 6’9″ point guard either!). But one great thing about learning how to dribble a basketball is that it can be done anywhere – as Magic demonstrated. All you need is a basketball and ground beneath your feet.

So encourage your players to keep the ball with them all the time, to dribble on their way to school, to the library, to McDonalds – wherever they go. The more they dribble the ball, the more comfortable they’ll feel dribbling it, and the better they’ll become.