10 Basketball Dribbling Skills That Will Improve Your Offense 

Got basketball dribbling skills?

Handling the ball against tough defensive pressure isn't for the faint of heart!

Ball handling is an important skill regardless of your size or position.

It's crucial to running a successful basketball offense, enabling players to create shooting and passing opportunities.

And though most of the ball handling is the responsibility of the guards, players at every position need to be able to control the ball when it's in their hands and dribble out of trouble.

Learn how to handle the ball with confidence under pressure, make your trip down the court easier, and reduce turnovers by making these dribbling tips part of your offensive game. 

Basketball Dribbling Skills
1. Look before you put the ball on the floor

The first thing you should do every time you get your hands on the ball is look to see what's happening on the floor.

To do this, square your body up to your team's basket. That means pivot, if necessary, so that you're facing your goal. Look for open players or shots before you put the ball on the floor. 

Basketball Dribbling Skills
2. Don't try to dribble in traffic

It's hard to keep control of the ball with lots of bodies, feet, and hands in the way.

Typically, most of the traffic during a game is within the center lane of the court. It's especially congested in the free throw lane near each bucket.

Unless you see an opening to take the ball to the basket, it's rarely a good idea to dribble in the free throw lane. There are just too many people in the way.

Also, when you're bringing the ball down the floor in transition (after your team has gotten a steal or a rebound) it's often a good idea to let the players clear out of the way before dribbling.

Putting the ball on the floor in the middle of all the confusion of players moving to the other end of the court is a sure way to lose it.

Basketball Dribbling Skills
3. Keep your eyes up

Always dribble with your eyes up.

Basketball is a team game, and you should always be looking down the floor for a good open teammate or shot.

When your head is looking down at the ball you have no idea where you're going. You can't see defenders sneaking up on you. And you miss scoring opportunities.

To be an unselfish teammate and all-around player, you must learn how to play basketball with your eyes up at all times.

Basketball Dribbling Skills
4. Dribble with a purpose

Dribble only if you're trying to move to a better location.

If putting the ball on the floor will help you move the ball quickly on a fast break, get a better angle for a pass, or have a closer shot at the bucket, dribbling is a great idea.

Otherwise, don't do it.

Every unnecessary dribble you take is an opportunity for your opponent to steal the ball, for you to lose control of it, or for you to miss a teammate who is wide open for a shot.

Passing the ball is often a much quicker and more effective way to move the ball around the court.

Basketball Dribbling Skills
5. Keep your dribble alive until you have a better option

Once you start dribbling, don't pick the ball up until you're ready to do one of 3 things:

  1. Take a shot
  2. Make a pass
  3. Keep a defender from stealing it

As soon as you pick up the dribble, you're stuck. You only have 5 seconds to get rid of it.

A lot of young players who are learning how to play basketball panic, pick up their dribble too soon, and frantically try to find some way to get rid of it.

More often than not, when players react out of panic, they turn the ball over.

Basketball Dribbling Skills
6. Develop both the right and left hands

Most of us have one naturally dominant hand that we use for most activities.

While this works fine in daily life, it's a huge disadvantage on the court.

If you can only dribble with one hand, you're very easy to guard and very easy to stop.

A good way to improve your ball handling skills are to perform basketball dribbling drills with one hand and then repeat them with the other.

When you're first learning how to play basketball, dribbling is going to feel very awkward, especially with your weaker hand.

But don't let that discourage you!

Most players won't develop this important habit because it can be downright frustrating at times.

But if you will make it a point to develop your dribbling skills with both your right and left hands now, you'll eventually stand out above the rest!

Basketball Dribbling Skills
7. Protect your dribble

There are 3 keys to protect your dribble against a defender:

  • Keep your dribble low.
  • Use your off-hand as a shield to protect the ball. When your defender reaches in to knock it away, block her hand with your bent forearm.
  • Keep your dribble near your back foot away from the defender.

Basketball Dribbling Skills
8. Keep a balanced stance with a strong base

To control your dribble under pressure, establish a solid base by keeping your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees and keep your back straight, kind of like you're sitting in a chair. Don't hunch over the ball.

While control dribbling, your off hand should be bent in an "L" shape out in front of your body as a bumper to keep your defender's hands off the ball. This stance gives you a low center of gravity and keeps you from being knocked around.

Basketball Dribbling Skills
9. Be able to adjust the height of your dribble

When you're being closely guarded, it's very important to keep your dribble low. No higher than your knees. 

This makes it very difficult for the defender to steal it.

On the other hand, when you're dribbling down the court on a fast break or driving to the bucket, it's important to push the ball out in front of you about waist height.

This higher dribble allows you to move a lot faster.

Basketball Dribbling Skills
10. Control the ball with the pads of your fingers

Flex your wrist and use the pads of your fingers to push the ball to the floor as you dribble. Avoid slapping the ball or using the palm of your hand.

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