7 Tips on Dribbling for Better Youth Basketball Ball Handling Drills

Build winning habits with these tips on dribbling. Improving your basketball game starts by doing the "little things." Beginning players become great players by learning to do the "little things" a lot of the time.

tips on dribbling

This doesn't happen by accident.

When it comes to learning fundamental basketball skills, developing bad habits is pretty easy. It's easy to get careless and sloppy during practice drills, especially if players are tired or no one's pushing them.

But the truth is, if players aren't practicing hard and deliberately, if they're not giving 100% effort when they're on the court, they're not getting better. It's that simple.

So, here's some simple coaching tips to help your kids get the most out of their ball handling workouts. As you place more focus on having your players do each one consistently, you'll be instilling in them the dribbling habits that'll reap big benefits on the court. Make them a regular part of drills and you'll see their confidence and game-time performance improve.

Tips on Dribbling #1
Keep your head up

Even though it feels very uncomfortable at first, try to keep your head and eyes up as much as possible. Dribble specs, like those shown in the picture, are a great training aid to keep players from looking down at the ball.

As you become more comfortable dribbling the basketball, this will become more natural, but it's important to start developing the habit from the start.

Don't worry if the ball gets away from you. That's to be expected at first.

By keeping your head up, you can see what's happening on the floor. For starters, you can see where the defense is so you don't dribble into trouble!

You can also see open teammates and open scoring opportunities.

In the middle of a game with all the defensive pressure and the chaos, is not the time to start learning how to keep your head up!

Tips on Dribbling #2
Speed it up!

Push yourself to go as fast as you can while staying in control.

Basketball is a very uptempo game, and you have to be able to react quickly with the ball. You can't wait until the ball game to learn this skill. You've got to develop it on your own.

Push yourself to go faster and faster, and you'll become a much stronger ball handler in stressful situations.

Tips on dribbling #3
Work on both hands

All boys and girls basketball drills should be repeated with the right and the left hand.

So many players are one dimensional. They only feel confident using one hand. Do you know how easy those players are to stop?

All the defense has to do is overplay the dribbler to her weak side, and she's dead.

At the beginning, when young players are first learning how to play basketball, everything feels awkward anyway. There's not a better time to start working on both hands than now.

Focusing on this one small thing will put your players miles ahead of their peers. And just think of the confidence they'll gain when they can more freely move the ball around the court.

Tips on Dribbling #4
Use "dummy" defenders

To spice things up and make your youth basketball drills more game-like and more fun, use obstacles for "dummy" defenders.

It doesn't matter what you use; use your imagination.

Your "defenders" can be traffic cones, cracks in the driveway, trashcans, sticks, or even the family dog! Whatever you have available that can act as an imaginary defender will work.

Having an obstacle in the way keeps the ball handler from getting sloppy and lazy with her footwork because it forces her to actually go around something. She won't be able to charge through her defender in the game, so she needs to learn how to change direction and avoid obstacles now.

Tips on Dribbling #5
Challenge yourself

Pick a set starting and ending line for each dribbling drill. Perform each drill from one end to the other, and then return. On the return, it's a good time to switch hands.

Focus on keeping your eyes down the court and spread the obstacles around in various places, mixing it up to make it more challenging.

Set personal records and try to break them on each trip.

Can you get to the end faster? How about with fewer missed dribbles? How many times can you go down and back in a certain period of time?

Making the drills competitive keeps you from just "going through the motions." It encourages you to keep your energy and effort level high.

Tips on Dribbling #6
Go right, use right. Go left, use left

Any time you dribble toward the right side of the court, you should have the ball in your right hand. Same thing for going left. When dribbling toward the left you should always use your left hand.

This is a really important habit to develop!

It may not seem to matter while you're practicing on your own without defense. But, come game time, the defender will snatch the ball in no time because you're leaving it exposed right out in front of him. 

Tips on Dribbling #7
Change direction quickly

Each time you change direction, push hard off your outside foot and try to explode quickly. You need a quick first step to get by your defender.

This is one of the biggest mistakes players make. They don't practice at game speed with game-speed cuts. You can't practice at half-speed and expect to be able to turn it on under control come game time. 

You play like you practice. Work on explosive, quick movements in practice and they'll happen naturally in the game.

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