5 basketball dribbling drills to improve your ball handling skills

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No matter what position they play, all basketball players can benefit by improving their ball handling skills. Perimeter threats like Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant use deft dribble moves to defy defenders in the open floor, while big men like Blake Griffin use their ball handling skills to make mincemeat out of their match-ups, proving that all players of all play styles can take their games to the next level by working on one of basketball's most basic fundamentals.

Luckily for young players looking to improve their handles (and coaches hoping to encourage and teach them), all they need is a basketball and a hard surface to work on the basics of the bounce. Here are a few simple drills that will have hard-working players dribbling circles around their defenders in no time:

  • High-low: Dribble the ball waist-high, then suddenly bring it down and dribble it as low as you can, trying to maintain the intensity with which you were pounding the ball at the start of the drill. After a few seconds, return to the starting position and repeat with the opposite hand.
  • Back and forth under the legs: With staggered legs and bent knees, dribble the ball back and forth with both hands under the leg in front. After 30 seconds, switch legs.
  • V-dribble: Starting with your right hand, dribble the ball once to the side of you, moving it toward the middle of the body as if you were going to cross over. Instead of getting the ball with your left hand, however, keep your right hand on the ball and bounce it back to ward the side of your body. After 30 seconds, switch hands.
  • Figure eight: With your feet wider than shoulder-width apart, dribble the ball with your right hand around your right leg, meeting the ball in the middle with your left hand and bouncing it around your left leg. To mix things up, try completing the circuit around both legs with the same hand. As you improve, try making it around each leg with fewer dribbles, eventually just dribbling once in the middle of your legs before switching hands.
  • Crossover dribble: To help make your crossover move more effective, try this drill. Straddle a line on the floor, or just imagine a vertical line running on the floor halfway between your feet. As you cross the ball over in front of your body, pull it all the way across the line before letting it bounce. This will force you to improve your control of the ball as well as help you better protect the ball come game time.

When performing these drills, make sure to keep your eyes up as if you are keeping an eye out for a defender or an open teammate. Once you have mastered the drill with your eyes ahead, try adding a second ball to certain moves to work both hands simultaneously.

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