Which hand is your better ball handling hand? Yes you have to be honest. No, I am not going to accept that I am equally good with both hands. If you are equally good with both hands, then what you are telling me is that you are equally bad with both hands. What I really want you to say when you practice ball handling is that I am not good enough with either hand and I have to work to make both of them better.
One year our point guard was left-handed. He was a very good player, but I wanted him to be better. I told him in the spring that he wasn’t as good as I wanted him to be going to his right. He wanted to prove me wrong. He worked so hard on his ball handling workout that by the next season, he was actually better going right than left! I want you to make a commitment to yourself to work until your weak hand becomes your strong hand!
You can find tons and tons of drills from many sources. The value of what you are reading now is that it will give you a method to follow that will lead to improvement.
There are only two ways to improve ball handling. One, try new moves and drills. Two, do the moves and drills that you currently use at a faster pace. Whenever you try to improve, you are going to make ball handling errors. That means you either loose the basketball during the move or you look at the basketball. Both are a part of the improvement process when you do a serious ball handling workout.
Our ball handling rules for every ball handling drill we use is this.
- You should be in a good stance with your knees flexed
- Your eyes should watch the bottom of the net at the far end of the floor. Watching the net allows you to have vision of the whole floor and the other players during a game.
- Start out slowly, get a good rhythm, and then pick up the pace until you either lose the ball or have to look at it. That is where your current ability limit is for that drill or move. In the coming ball handling workouts, you will strive to increase that limit.
Begin your ball handling workout with stationary drills to get your hands warmed up. Every stationary drill is done with two basketballs. Make sure to follow the three ball handling rules that were just outlined. That way you are working both hands at the same time and making the drills tougher than a game. Start out with basic two ball drills.
Speed dribbles as quick as you can go with both balls being dribbled below the knees. Pound dribbles as hard as you can. You can have both balls hit the floor together you can alternate left, right, left, right, etc… As you improve, look for more challenging drills where you have to cross the basketballs, dribble around your legs or body, change the ball from hand to hand, etc…
(Make sure to stretch in between the stationary drills and the next segment which involves moving while dribbling two basketballs. For ideas on stretching, see our post on basketball stretches.)
Phase 2 involves dribbling two basketballs while moving. Again, start with drills you can do and speed up until you lose the basketballs or have to look at one. Again, follow the ball handling rules.
As you improve, increase the difficulty of the drills—crossovers, between the legs, behind the back, dribble high in your right hand and low in your left hand. Be creative and challenge yourself! Make sure that you are including dribbling while backpedaling in all of your two ball with movement drills.
Segment 3 Magic dribbling drill. Start with 2 basketballs on one baseline. In this drill you are going to use as much of the floor as you can and make as many moves as you can while adhering to the three rules. Start dribbling the basketball and pretend that you are bringing the ball up against a man to man full court press. Use a back dribble, crossovers, all of the moves you can make and use as much of the floor as you can. You should be going full speed and working past your limits.
This is a timed full court drill. You have 10 seconds to make dribble moves in the backcourt, just like you do in games. Once your cross midcourt, you will use as much of the court as you can—still making all your two ball moves, still following the ball handling rules. If you aren’t losing the ball, you aren’t working hard enough!
Beginners can do this drill full speed for 30 seconds. Work your way up to 6o seconds and 90 seconds. I have only had one player tough enough to do it for 2 minutes going all out the entire time. You should work hard enough to at least fumble the ball once every 15 seconds. Repeat the drill twice during the workout.
This ball handling workout is designed to build skills. During the games, you want to play a “clean” game without any ball handling turnovers. That means you stay within your own limits and don’t try to make plays that you have not been successful with in your practices and workouts. During ball handling workouts, the opposite is true.
If our players ever have a clean workout with no errors, I know one thing—they aren’t working hard enough! And that tells me that they are wasting their time by going through the motions rather than doing a serious ball handling workout. Don’t make that mistake!