If you’re looking to become a deadly offensive threat on the basketball court, improving your ball handling skills with these ball handling tips is a great starting point. Refine them, and you’ll be the player the coach trusts with the ball giving you more opportunities to shine.
When people hear ball handling they usually think of dribbling. While dribbling is definitely a part of ball handling it is just a part of it. Ball handling involves knowledge of the game along with dribbling, passing, and decision-making.
The best way to improve ball handling just like anything else is to practice. Whether you are a 5'5 or 7'0, it is a must that you learn, the skill of ball handling. Why? Because most of the time on the basketball court is spent moving the ball to a good position for a shot at the basket.
If every player is able to get the basketball in a good position for good shots it makes your team that much better. Because if only one person is counted on to set everyone else up it limits your team to how well that one player is playing.
REASONS FOR LEARNING HOW TO MASTER BALL HANDLING
BUILDS YOUR CONFIDENCE
Everyone should have hot spots on the court. These are places on the court where you feel most comfortable shooting or making a play from. If you are a good ball handler you will be able to get to these spots often. This increases your field goal percentage along with your confidence.
If you are familiar with BYL's blog posts then you already know we believe that your confidence level is the most important factor in your performance on the court. If you are confident on the court you are more aggressive, and look for your opportunities to make an impact on the game.
MAKES IT EASIER FOR YOU TO SCORE
Like I mentioned above you should know your hot spots on the court, and with this knowledge and good ball handling you can get there often. That makes you a deadly offensive weapon that is capable of getting high-quality shots when your team needs them most.
When you have good ball handling it also makes you harder to double team. Because if you can make the correct play out of a double team it will put your opponent at a disadvantage every time you make the correct play. The defense will only get burned so many times before the coach calls off the double team, allowing you to once again work one on one.
GETS YOU THE BALL MORE
Once you become a proven good ball handler your coach will want the ball in your hands as much as possible, because they know that when you have the ball good things happen.
Good things like layups and wide open shots. Once you've gained the trust of your coach and teammates they will all want you with the ball. Because you can get good shots for not only yourself but also for your teammates.
WHAT YOU'LL LEARN IN THIS POST
- 13 tips for ball handling
- How improving your ball handling will make your whole team better
- Ball handling mistakes to avoid and how to fix them
- The best ways to improve your ball handling skills
1. Dribble With Your Fingerpads
Good ball handlers control the ball with their fingerpads, no palms or fingertips. To have the best ball control while you dribble, you must dribble the ball with your finger pads. You don’t want to dribble with your fingertips or the palm of your hand.
The way the ball is placed in your hands while you dribble should be similar to your hand placement when shooting the basketball. Do not smack the ball with your palm or jab the ball with your fingertips, you want to push with your finger pads.
At the end of your dribble, you should be snapping your wrist to follow through with your dribble just like following through with your jump shot.
2. Spread Your Fingers
This gives you more control of the basketball. The more your fingers cover the ball the more control you have over it. This makes it easier to push the ball in the direction you want it to go and keeps the ball out of the palm of your hand.
This lessens the chance for the ball to slip off your hand. It is your fingers that should touch and control the tempo of your dribbling. Never ever use the palm to dribble the ball.
3. Dribble The Basketball Harder
The longer the ball is out of your hand, the greater the chance for a mistake or a defender getting a hand on it. By dribbling the ball hard, it stays in your hand longer and gives you more control.
No matter what ball handling drills you are doing, you should dribble the ball as hard as possible. When the ball is out of your hands you have no control over it, so pound the ball harder in practice and it will become a habit in the games.
4. Protecting The Basketball
You should not dribble the ball in front of yourself when you're closely guarded. If your defender is close you want to be more careful with the ball because any little mistake can be taken advantage of by the defense. Protect the ball with your body and your off arm.
Keep your off arm up and ready to protect the ball when a defender is close. This will deter the defender from trying to steal the ball when you are in a position to protect the ball. Because they might pick up a cheap foul trying to come through your arm for the steal.
5. Switch Up Your Speeds
Players with average speed can use a change of pace to get past defenders and keep them off balance. Players at all levels can use changing speeds effectively. If you're going one speed it is much easier for you to be guarded even if you're going really fast.
But if your changing speeds the defense has to change speeds too, and you have the advantage because it's you that's determining when to go fast or slow and the defense has to react to that. Watch videos of Stephen Curry and Chris Paul they are great at using a change of pace to get past defenders.
6. Be Consistent
If you do every one of these ball-handling tips, but you aren’t consistent then you won’t see the results. You need to develop a routine that will allow you to keep progressing. Too many days off will slow down all the progress you have made. This sounds simple and easy, but without a routine doing anything consistently is difficult.
During the off-season, this is most crucial because that is where players improve the most and you won't have team practice to fall back on. What you decide to do in the offseason can change your basketball career, so be consistent year round.
7. Use Fewer Dribbles
Work to get where you're going with the least dribbles possible. I remember doing drills with my college coach and one of the most difficult drills we would do was that he would make me try to get a layup with two dribbles from half court. This drill was very beneficial to me as I scored many fast break points.
You don't beat defenses with your dribble usually, you beat people with your feet. If you caught the ball pivoted and swept the ball through hard, you would be surprised how easy it is to get past your defender with one dribble. Playing with the ball might be nice for your basketball mixtape, but for actual results, you want to cut down on dribbling with no purpose.
8. Get Outside Your Comfort Zone
During training, it’s important to keep in mind that you should mess up a lot. If you are not messing up, then you are training in your comfort zone, and this will not make you better. Because you are training at a level of speed and intensity that you have already mastered.
If you’re looking to achieve elite status with your ball handling you need to train outside of your comfort zone. Be intense enough for you to lose the ball a few times. Now you're operating at the edge of your skill level, and this is where you want to always practice at because you will get the best and quickest results by a long shot at the edge of your skillset.
9. Get An Accountability Partner
It is a proven fact that you are much more likely to accomplish a goal if you have an accountability partner. Your partner should be someone who will challenge you to reach your goals. It could be a friend, a coach, or a teammate but it should be someone who you will be responsive to when they question your work ethic or challenge you to go harder.
Your partner should also preferably be someone who is also working to improve there ball handling because they need the motivation to be there too beyond just helping you out, and its fun to challenge one another with games like timing yourself to see who can do a drill faster. This makes working on your ball handling fun and challenging.
10. Read Your Defender
know your defender, are you quicker than them? are they taller or stronger? what is their defensive posture? These are all cues that tell you what will be effective against your defender so pay attention. For instance, if your defender has their weight on there heals, this could be a good time to pull up for a shot. Anytime you can make your defender shift their weight from one way to another is a good opportunity to beat them off the dribble. This is why crossovers and spin moves are so effective.
You should not only be concerned with your defender, but you should be aware of the entire defense. If you suspect that you can beat your man off the dribble it's a good idea to know where the help will come from and the likely options you will have once you beat your man. This also includes your teammates what are they likely to do and will you be able to get a good shot for yourself or one of your teammates.
11. Mix Up Your Training Routine
In your ball handling routine, you should have a variety of different drills. You should have some stationary drills and some drills on the move. Some dribbling drills, and some drills where you take the ball around your body without dribbling. You should have some footwork drills and some hand-eye coordination drills. All of these drills focus on different aspects of ball handling and there all important.
Switch up your routine also it makes your training fresher and gives you new challenges. Once you can do a drill at full speed without any errors consistently, its time for you to switch it up and find new challenges that push you to the edge of your skill level.
12. Keep Your Head Up
Your eyes should focus on what is in front of you. Find out were your teammates and your opponents are. You do not have time in the game to look down when dribbling the ball. Continually look up to see what is going on around you. You may only have a split second to make a pass to someone in a great position to score, and if your head is down you will miss them.
It is also extremely important to anticipate whats going to happen next. As you dribble up the court you should watch where your teammates are going and where they might go. Also watch the defense is someone out of position that you may be able to take advantage of? Be aware of whats going on, on the court and also be aware of what is going to happen. This is an elite skill that high-level basketball players have.
13. Use Your Imagination
While you work on your ball handling it is important to use your imagination. Imagine yourself being guarded by a defender while going through your drills. This is very important if you want to translate your training into an actual game. Instead of just going around cones pretend that's Chris Paul you are crossing over. What would the defense do how would they try to recover? These are important questions to think about while your training.
Your imagination is the most important thing you have. Just look around your house, everything in there started out in someone's imagination. What you truly believe to be possible usually is possible for you. So don't only use your imagination while you train. Use it all the time imagine yourself getting drafted and shaking Adam Silvers hand. Imagine every aspect of your future. Then work toward making your dreams a reality. I believe in you but its more important that you believe in yourself.
ARE YOU READY TO BECOME A GREAT BALL HANDLER?
Now that you have the keys to improving your handles, it's time to get out there and practice them. If you have desire and access to a ball there is no excuse for you not being a great ball handler.
There is no time like the present to start taking action.
Let me know in the comments if you need more help.
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Old School Grit- The willpower to persevere with passion and a sense of purpose is what matters most in whether a person succeeds or fails, is what this book is all about.
How To Be Better At Basketball In 21 Days- This book has basketball drills that can help you develop basic skills, tips on how to increase your basketball shooting accuracy, and how to toughen your mental state so that you play with confidence, courage, and control.
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