Basketball Dribbling Drill Workouts for Young Players

Practice. Practice. Practice. 

A daily basketball dribbling drill routine is a must for any players wanting to improve their ball handling skills.

basketball dribbling drill

Photo: Some rights reserved by USAG-Humphreys

Controlling the ball is paramount. If teammates can't be trusted with the ball in their hands, their opportunities to get the ball will be limited.

Look around and you'll notice that in every league the players with good "handles" stand out. Especially in youth leagues. When the overall skill level is low, if you've got a player with strong dribbling skills, you've got a player that can help lead the offense and dominate the floor.

But the ability to dribble with control and confidence doesn't come overnight. And it doesn't happen by accident.

It was a long season

It was painful for me to sit on the sidelines each Saturday afternoon watching my daughter's 8-10 year old YMCA basketball game. 

Why? 

Because what I saw on the court barely resembled the game that I love!

It was clear these players lacked some important foundational ball control skills. Being able to move the ball up and down the court is crucial to the game of basketball. And when that skill is lacking, chaos ensues.

Dribbling into trouble. Turnovers. Traveling. Stolen balls. 

What does that mean for players?

Frustration. Discouragement. Lack of confidence. Losing games.

By dedicating time each day to basketball ball handling drills, your young player's confidence, skill level, and ability to handle the ball in game situations will slowly climb.  

In the beginning, part of the problem is that players not only have weak skills, but they don't know when and when not to dribble. 

There are two extremes I commonly see with youth basketball players:

Players who are terrified to touch the ball 

confusion

They do whatever they can to avoid it at all costs!

And when they do find themselves with the ball in their hands, they "freeze" on the floor with mental overload.

Feeling paralyzed because they have absolutely no idea what to do with the ball, their confusion and lack of confidence often causes them to turn the ball over.

The good news is this is nothing that some good basketball dribbling drills can't fix!

By developing some automatic in-grained dribbling skills to react with, which comes through repeated practice, players learn to respond in those situations.

All of their energy isn't spent trying to figure out what to do next. Their muscle memory takes over, and they handle the ball without thinking about it.

And players who can't seem to dribble enough!

You've seen these players. Every time they get their hands on the ball, they dribble endlessly, with their head down, oblivious to everyone else on the court.

"Over-dribbling" is a habit common in beginners. It often results in turnovers and missed passing and scoring opportunities. 

Until players become confident handling the ball, it's difficult to break them of their need to keep their eyes on it.

Dribbling drills, repeated over time, will train them to know where the ball is by "feel" so they can keep their eyes up to see the floor.

There is a happy medium!

Dribbling too much is bad. And so is not dribbling at all. But there is a happy medium!

Learn how to handle the ball better with 10 tips guaranteed to make every trip down the court easier and with greater success.

Just getting started? Check out these drills

You'll be surprised how spending a few minutes each day doing some of these basic basketball dribbling drills will boost your child's confidence and skill level. 

And the great thing about ball handling drills is that you can never be too young or too experienced to benefit from them. 

Basketball Dribbling Drills to Change Direction & Speed

Stationary Ball Handling Drills

Fun Ball Handling Challenges for Young Players

Once players have gained a little confidence and are ready for a challenge, try the following more advanced drills. 

They'll give players a chance to handle the ball while sitting down and dribbling 2 balls at once:

Lazy Dribbling Drills

2 Ball Dribbling Drills

7 More Advanced Ball Handling Drills

Before getting started, check out a few tips to help players get the most benefit from the dribbling drills.

The ultimate goal is to perform each drill with control as quickly as possible without looking at the ball.

This will be very difficult at first, but once you get the hang of a drill, try your best to keep your eyes up.

dribble specs

Ever tried dribbling goggles?

Also known as dribbling specs they're helpful because they force players to keep their heads up. Players quickly learn that looking down doesn't help because they can't see the ball. So they learn to feel the ball instead.

Buy dribbling specs
Spalding Youth Size Basketball

I also strongly recommend kids use a youth-size basketball instead of a regulation ball. The smaller circumference better accommodates their small hands and bodies.

I guarantee they'll enjoy a lot more success early on using a smaller ball.

Find ways to make each basketball dribbling drill fun!

When I practice ball handling drills with my daughter we try to make a game out of them. For example:

  • We see how many consecutive dribbles we can do before messing up. We compete against each other or work together and add them up as a team. Then, each time we try to beat our previous best.
  • We race to see who can finish a certain number of dribbles or drills first.
  • We combine several drills together to make a routine. We take turns creating the routine.
  • We dribble to the beat of music.

Just use your imagination and create your own fun basketball dribbling drills!


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