Is Ballhandling Important?

A really interesting topic came up this week on one of the coaches’ forums that I subscribe to and I felt the need to address it on this site.  We had been spending a few days discussing ball handling drills and giving each other ideas on how to make their basketball players better ball handlers.  Then, today one of the coaches posed this question, ” have read a few things lately that say we as coaches are putting way too much emphasis on ballhandling drills and not concentrating on shooting, etc. Wonder what many of you think?”  I really thought that this was an interesting question given my personal philosophy on training basketball players.  So, this is how I responded:

This is an interesting thought, but as a coach, I always liked to have guys of all sizes that, at the very least, could put the ball on the floor for a few dribbles at a time.  I am not saying that they had to all be point guards, but I knew that if I had five players on the court that could handle the ball it would make my team tough to defend.  The ability to put the basketball on the floor makes a player more versatile and therefore more dangerous.  It allows that player to create space for himself and his teamates.  This will ultimately put pressure on the defense and make it more difficult for them to defend our offense.   
When I train players, I train from the basket back.  We start with building up the ability to finish around the rim with footwork being the fundamental component of that.  Then we work on the ability to get to the rim and that requires players to be able to handle the basketball.  Then finally we work on shooting and the ability to counter that with triple threat moves.
The other thing to consider is that when basketball players train or practice on their own, what is the first and sometimes the only thing that they work on?  9 times our of 10 it is shooting.  So they are usually getting more shooting work than ballhandling work anyway.  With that in mind, coaches, trainers, etc. should include some sort fo ballhandling in their practices if they want to create players who have some versatility.
In my seven years of coaching, there has been only one season that my high school team was not one of the highest scoring teams in the county.  This ability to score was based on our ability to get to the rim and score or get to the line.  In doing so, we were also able to outrebound our opponents consistently because the defense was constantly being forced into a help position by our drives to the basket.  This took them out of good rebounding position and allowed us to clean up the glass from the weak side on misses.  Don’t get me wrong, we did shoot three pointers throughout the game but I would never once call any of my teams great jump shooting teams. 
We focussed daily on all aspects of skill development, shooting passing, and dribbling and I firmly believe that this was a large part of our success.  This is also now the basis for my philosophy for training basketball players now as I want a versatile player who is fundamentally sound in all areas.  Here is an example of a drill that I like that you can use to help with the development of your basketball players skills:

If you like that drill, let us know in the comments section below.  And, don’t forget that you can get more drills just like that in my basketball speed and agility e-book and video product.  Just click on the picture below to find out more about this great product and take advantage of its current promotional price.

See you on the court.

Rich Stoner

Elite Basketball Training, LLC

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