15 Basketball Ball Handling Drills Perfect for Daily Warm-up

Start your youth basketball training every day with these basketball ball handling drills for players of all ages. Good ball handling is important. Used as a daily routine, these basic dribbling drills will build confidence in your players as they become more comfortable with the ball in their hands.

basketball ball handling drills

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For young players just starting out, the drills will provide a fun challenge. As players get older and more skilled, they can push themselves to do the drills faster and without looking at the ball. I've used this routine with youngsters in our basketball camps as well as our college players during daily warm-up.

The great thing about these basketball training drills is that you don't need a court to do them. You can do them out on your driveway, on your back porch, or anywhere you have a hard surface.

Once players learn each of the individual skills, put them all together in a continuous ball handling routine. Start with just a few repetitions of each one and add more as skills improve. 

Stationary ball handling routine

  1. Ball Slaps
  2. Fingertips
  3. Circles Passing
  4. Circles Dribbling
  5. Dribbles
  6. Crossover Front
  7. Crossover Behind
  8. Front to Back
  9. Side to Side
  10. Figure 8 Passing
  11. Figure 8 Dribbling
  12. Skips
  13. Drops
  14. Scissors Passing
  15. Scissors Dribbling

The video below does a great job demonstrating most of the skills listed above. He has a different name for several of them and he adds a few others, but you'll get a good idea of how they should look.

Basketball Ball Handling Drills #1
Ball slaps

Hold the ball comfortably out in front of you about chest height. Alternate slapping the ball with each hand 10 times. Slap it with pretty good force.

Basketball Ball Handling Drills #2
Fingertips

Hold the ball comfortably out in front of you about chest height. Pass the ball back and forth using only your fingertips as quickly as possible. Keep your hands close together so only your fingertips are moving. 

Continue passing the ball back and forth from hand to hand while you move the ball up to head level, down your body to your ankles, and then back up to your chest.

Basketball Ball Handling Drills #3
Circles passing

Spread your legs a little farther than shoulder width apart. Using both hands, pass the ball around one of your legs as quickly as you can.

Do circles around:

  • Right leg
  • Left leg
  • Ankles (put both legs together and do circles around both ankles)
  • Knees (put both legs together and do circles around both knees)
  • Waist
  • Head

Variations:

  • Do 5 circles around each body part before moving to the next body part.
  • Do 5 circles, then reverse the direction of your circles and do 5 more before moving on.
  • Do one circle around your ankles, then knees, then waist, then head, and work your way back down to your ankles (also known as the "candy cane").

Basketball Ball Handling Drills #4
Circles dribbling

Spread your legs a little farther than shoulder width apart. Dribble the ball around one of your legs.

Do dribbling circles around:

  • Right leg
  • Left leg
  • Both legs (put both legs together and dribble around both of your legs.

Variations:

  • Do 5 circles around each before moving on to the next.
  • Do 5 circles, then reverse the direction of your circles and dribble 5 more circles in the opposite direction.
  • Try to dribble with only the right hand around the right leg and only the left hand around the left leg. 

Basketball Ball Handling Drills #5
Dribbles

Feet are shoulder width apart. With the ball in your right hand, begin dribbling on the right side of your body with tiny dribbles at ankle height.

Without stopping, dribble a little higher up to knee height, then harder up to waist height, then up to chest height.

Repeat with the left hand on the left side of your body.

Do 5 dribbles at each height before advancing and don't stop dribbling until you finish at your chest.

Without stopping, reverse the order and work your way back down to your ankles.

Variations:

  • Pound the dribbles as hard as you can at each height.

Basketball Ball Handling Drills #6
Crossover front

With feet shoulder width apart and knees slightly bent, pass the ball from one hand to the other by bouncing it back and forth in front of you from your right hand to your left.

Variations:

  • Keep your bounces at ankle height, then knee height, then waist height.
  • Dribble a couple times with one hand before bouncing it over to the other hand.

Basketball Ball Handling Drills #7
Crossover behind

Same as the previous drill, but pass the ball back and forth behind your heels.

Basketball Ball Handling Drills #8
Front to back

With the ball in your right hand, dribble it in a "V" pattern, front to back, on your right side. With your hand behind the ball, push the ball forward so it lands just to the side of your right foot.

Then, rotate your hand so it's on top of the ball and pull it back toward you so it bounces in the same place beside your right foot.

Repeat with your left hand.

Basketball Ball Handling Drills #9
Side to side

Using only your right hand, dribble the ball directly in front of you from one side of your body to the other, so that it hits the floor in a "V" pattern.

Repeat with your left hand.

With your legs slightly farther than shoulder width apart, pass the ball between your legs in a figure 8 pattern.

With the ball in your right hand in front of your body, pass it through your legs to your left hand, which is behind your left leg.

With your left hand, bring the ball around to the front of your left leg and pass it through your legs to your right hand which is behind your right leg.

With your right hand, bring it around to the front of your right leg and repeat.

Variation:

  • Do 5 Figure 8s, then reverse direction and do 5 Figure 8s the other way.

Basketball Ball Handling Drills #11
Figure 8 dribbling

Repeat the steps above, but dribble the ball instead of passing it from hand to hand.

Variation: 

  • Do 5 Figure 8s, then reverse direction and do 5 Figure 8s the other way.

Basketball Ball Handling Drills #12
Skips

Similar to Figure 8 passing drill with a slight variation.

With your legs slightly farther than shoulder width apart, pass the ball between your legs in a figure 8 pattern.

With the ball in your right hand in front of your body, pass it through legs to your left hand, which is behind your left leg.

As it passes directly beneath you, scrape the ball ("skip" it) against the floor before placing it in your left hand.

With your left hand, bring the ball around to the front of your left leg and pass it through your legs to your right hand behind your right leg, scraping it against the floor.

With your right hand bring it around to the front of your right leg and repeat.

Basketball Ball Handling Drills #13
Drops

Legs are slightly farther than shoulder width apart. With your right hand in front of your body and your left hand behind your body, hold the ball between your legs about a foot off the ground.

Drop the ball and, while it's falling, quickly switch your hands, so that your right hand is now behind your body and your left hand is in front.

You should do this quickly enough so you can catch the ball after one bounce.

Drop it again and reverse your hands. Repeat.

Basketball Ball Handling Drills #14
Scissors passing

Stand with your left leg in front and your right leg in back like a pair of scissors. It's as if an imaginary line is running underneath you from front to back and each foot is on the line.

With your left leg in front, start with ball in your right hand on the right side of the body. (The ball should always be in the hand that's opposite the front foot.)

Pass the ball between your legs to your left hand on the left side of your body.

As soon as it gets to your left hand, jump up slightly and swap your feet quickly so your right leg is in front and your left leg is in back (scissor cut).

As soon as you have swapped your feet, pass the ball from your left hand back to your right.

Swap your legs and repeat. See how quickly you can move your feet and pass the ball.

Ball Handling Drills #15
Scissors dribbling

Same as Scissors Passing but, instead of passing it, dribble it from hand to hand. Try to have the ball bounce in the same spot directly underneath you in the center of your body.

Related articles

If you're just beginning, start with these youth basketball training tips:

Beginner Dribbling Drills

10 Dribbling Tips

5 Good Reasons to Dribble

Once you've gained a little confidence and are ready for a greater challenge, try the following more advanced drills: 

"Lazy" Dribbling Drills

2-Ball Youth Basketball Drills

7  More Basketball Ball Handling Drills

Here are some more youth basketball drills for you to try:

Dribbling Drills for Changing Direction & Speed

Fun Ball Challenges for Young Players


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