Proper dribbling and ball-handling technique in the game of basketball is, first and foremost, the practice of posture. If a player does not know how to stand and move properly, all the dexterity and practice in the world will not make them a better ball-handler. But, how can one study posture? The best place to start is with a fitness or health and conditioning coach. If you want to improve your ball-handling, passing, dribbling and catching, here are some ideas to incorporate in your workouts and practices.
One of the more popular drills in dribbling practice is called the “double pound.” While it has little application in the game itself, it does allow a player to build strength and endurance. One thing players should remember is dribble practice and ball handling in general is a workout for the entire body, not just fingers, hands and arms. This is why posture is key. Bad footwork, bad posture, and overstressing certain muscle groups will dramatically reduce the effectiveness of any workout while increasing the chances of injury.
Catch and Release
Dribbling is pointless if the player is unable to control the ball for a pass or shot. This is one of the reasons catching is so vitally important. Far too many great plays are thwarted by a fumbled dribble pickup, or by an illegal action call by a referee. Dribble pickups should be performed exactly like a pass catch, with both hands in a position to immediately pass or to move to a shot posture. This is something that should be practiced right alongside foot moves, pivots, jump stops and various kinds of running shots like layups. As player confidence grows, dribble pickups can become more effective offensive moves.
Moving the ball while dribbling is a powerful way to protect a player’s offensive potential while simultaneously preserving ball possession. Moving the ball away from a defender while dribbling, for example, is a basic skill that far too many players overlook in favor of shooting or passing. Players should practice interposing their body between the ball and defenders, moving their feet while keeping the ball bouncing on the same spot, and moving the ball while pivoting, back-pivoting and changing hands. These skills are especially important for inside players, as ball-handling in the key is a crucial element of effective offense and rebounding.
The fundamental skills of the game of basketball are the key to being competitive. Without continuous practice and development, especially in young players, the higher concepts of the game will remain out of reach.