Dribbling is definitely one of the most important skills in the game of basketball. To be a complete player, regardless of your size and position, you must be able to dribble with at least adequate skills. If not, you are a weak link in your team’s offense. However, there is one type of player that hurts the team more than one who can’t dribble very well.
That type of player is one who is a very skilled dribbler. I know that sounds crazy, but think back to the players you have played with who were great dribblers. What did they do most of the time? They DRIBBLED while the rest of the team stood around and watched them dribble which kills your offensive movement and team passing.
When you work to improve your dribbling skills, you must also learn when, and most importantly, when not to dribble the ball. Let’s take a look at ways for you to learn how to dribble a basketball in ways that help your team.
Here are some good reasons to dribble a basketball:
To advance the ball. The quickest way to move the ball up the court is by passing, but sometimes you can’t pass the ball due to the distances your teammates are away from you or where the defense is positioned. In those instances, the best way to keep the ball moving forward and towards your team’s basket is by using the dribble.
To improve your passing angle. There are times when you can dribble to either get away from your defender to make a pass easier. By utilizing your dribble and cutting down the distance between you and the player you are passing to, you give the defense less opportunity to go for a steal.
To drive to the basket. When you drive to the basket, dribble in a straight line to help get to the basket as quickly as you can. Going in a straight line also makes it almost impossible for your defender to slide and beat you to the spot without fouling you.
To get open to shoot. If you use a shot fake to get your defender to jump in the air, use a dribble or two to move away and get yourself open for a shot.
To get away when you are being trapped. When two defensive players trap you, use a back dribble to quickly get away from them. Keep your eyes up for an opportunity to pass to a teammate and dribble the ball by your back foot as you slide backwards to get away from the trap. Following are some fundamental teaching points and types of dribbles that are a critical part of how to dribble a basketball.
Dribble with your eyes up. The best ball handlers are looking at how the defense is reacting to their dribbles. Reading how the defense is reacting as you dribble tells you how far you can go with your dribble before you get into trouble. It also tells you if any defenders leave your teammates open and come to help stop you.
Use your fingertips, your forearm, and wrist to dribble. Good dribblers don’t have much space between their hands and the floor. Keep your knees bent and push the ball hard and quickly on each bounce. It goes without saying that you need to work on both hands and be equally effective with both your left and right hands.
The fewer bounces the better. Since dribbling is much slower than passing, the more dribbles you take the slower the ball is moving and the easier it is for your opponent to react and maintain good defensive position. You should be able to make it to the basket (without traveling) from anywhere inside the three point arc on at most two dribbles. If you can make it in one, that is that much better for you and your team!
Practice and develop a Control Dribble. The Control Dribble is used when the player guarding you is playing you up close and tight. You should be turned so that you are not directly facing the defensive player, but that your shoulder is close to him and your body is sideways compared to his.
Your body is between the defender and the basketball. Dribble the ball by your back foot. The ball should bounce no higher than your waist. It is a slower dribble, but it protects the ball from being stolen by the defense. This dribble is used the most frequently in your half court offense when there are a lot of defenders around.
Practice and develop a Speed Dribble. Use this dribble when you are in the open court and you are trying to dribble as fast as you can. Push the ball in front of you as you dribble. The ball should bounce above your waist for maximum speed. The Speed Dribble should be used when you are not in traffic and there is little chance of the ball being stolen by the defense. Even though you are going for speed, you must keep your eyes up to see where the other players on the court are moving.
Don’t stop dribbling until you have a play. Once you start dribbling, there are only three reasons to stop. Those reasons are: 1) To pass the ball 2) To shoot the ball 3) To avoid a turnover. Picking the ball up with nothing to do with it invites the defense to pressure you, guard your teammates tighter to stop a pass, or to double team you—all are situations that you want to avoid.
Dribbling is a strange skill. Not only do you have to learn how to dribble a basketball, but you need to learn how to dribble it in ways that help your team. You can’t be a good player without being a good dribbler. But, if you dribble too much, it hurts your team.
You shouldn’t start dribbling unless you have a purpose, but once you start don’t stop until you have a play to make. Practice the fundamental guidelines that you just read every time you play and you will become one of your team’s best ball handlers!