Get the Most out of Your Ball Handling Drills
To be a complete basketball player, you must have the appropriate basketball handling ability required for your position. Being a skilled ball handler will allow you to move about anywhere you need on the basketball court, enable you to blow by your defender, and free you up for open lanes to the basket. In order to improve your ball handling ability, you must practice your craft on a regular basis. Listed and explained below are some tips you can add to your drill work that will assist in maximizing your efforts.
More Movement While Ballhandling:
No longer is it ok just to practice your ball handling through stationary or static drills. Examples of these sorts of drills are when you stand still and do figure 8 dribbling around your ankles or when you wrap the ball around your waist rapidly for a certain amount of time. These are great to wake up your fingertips, improve your familiarity with the ball in your hand, or to warm up for a workout. But, they can NOT be the only ball handling practice that you do if you want to improve your skills at a solid rate.
Adding movement and conditioning work to your ball handling drills can give you more of an in-game experience in that you wouldn’t accomplish with stationary work. By using cones, chairs, or other objects to act as a defender, you can practice your change of direction dribbles while dribbling up to the cone, crossover dribbling right before it, then exploding towards the basket for a layup. Repeating situations like these over and over will have you prepared for the game when you need to make a quick move around your defender to break the press or get to the basket.
A player with the ball in their hands is only as good as their reaction time allows them to be. Reflex and reaction time practice while you are working on your ball handling will allow you to anticipate the rapid activity of the basketball court. As a primary ball handler, you want to be able to quickly react and move the ball between your hands at a moment’s notice without having to think about it. You want to have the impulse to react when your defender reaches for the ball and switch hands immediately. Overall, you want to posses the talent to counter the happenings on the basketball court quickly and instinctively.
To permit this sort of instinctive behavior, you must practice it. You can improve this skill by performing ball handling drills that test your instincts. An example of this sort of drill includes tossing a tennis ball in the air followed by attempting to perform a change of direction dribble quickly enough to catch the ball before it hits the ground, then repeating this multiple times. Another example would be having a person in front of you flash a number using their hands with each number signifying a particular change of direction dribble. When that number is flashed, you perform the corresponding dribble; then return to a position of stable dribbling. Any drill that will work on your instincts with the basketball will improve your instincts in the game.
Change of Ballhandling Pace:
Contrary to popular belief, the players that can get by their defenders most easily are not the quickest players; rather they are the ones that have learned to implement change of pace to their game. They know how to shift gears meaning they can lull their opponents to sleep with a slow pace, then immediately explode into another gear with the basketball in their hands. When you learn how to control your pace, you keep your opponent off balance and always guessing on when you are going to make your next move.
One of the best examples of a great change of pace player in today’s game is Derrick Rose. Undoubtedly, he is one of the quickest and most athletic point guards in the NBA. But much of the Chicago Bulls’ star success comes from how quickly he can switch up his pace with the ball in his hands. Former teammate Carlos Boozer admires Rose’s ability to switch gears past his defender when he says things like “When we need buckets, we’re going to D. Rose and he’s going to make something happen.”
You can improve your ability to shift gears in the game by practicing them with your ball-handling work. Individually you can grab a basketball, dribble at half speed towards the other end of the court, quickly accelerate to full speed, stop, retreat dribble, and then quickly go into full speed again. Any practice with variations of this change of pace, speed, and direction will improve your ability to handle defensive pressure during a game.
Step Up Your Ball Handling Drills By:
- Adding movement
- Implement reaction time drills
- Improving your change of pace