Set 1 – Dribbling Basics
While I was a “Pass First” kind of coach, always wanting players to look for open teammates, I valued ball handling skills for all of my players too. Not because I wanted everyone to be a Point Guard, but because I wanted well-rounded players with the confidence and ability to get out of trouble when they had to. Thus, I used ball handling skill drills often in my out of season workouts as well as in season practices.
The dribble moves we worked on included:
- Straight line dribbling with either hand.
- Change hands/change direction, sometimes called Switch Dribble.
- Inside/Outside, to fake changing direction.
- Stop and Go, often called Hesitation.
- Back Dribble with two dribbles backwards and a change hands/change direction.
These five were incorporated into our early practice warmup drills as a four or five line group effort. With 12 on the team, we used four lines and four balls. With 10 or 15 on the team, be used five lines and five balls. The lines started on the baseline, players took their turn and did required move at mid court, continued to the far end, then did a jump stop and pivot. Next, they changed hands and repeated the move coming back to the original end and handed the ball off to the next person in line.
Here are some guidelines for getting the most out of this warmup drill:
A. To encourage players to work on their weaker hand more, have them always start the drill with their “off” hand and then return with their strong hand. That way they won’t accidently use the stronger hand both directions.
B. Since this is a warmup drill, encourage them to go at a comfortable pace, not too fast but not to slow either. Gradually increase the pace as they get deeper into the series.
C. Remind players to keep their eyes up and searching the court, rather than looking down at the ball or the floor in front of them.
D. Protecting the ball in traffic or under pressure is important. In the last four moves, pretend a defender is at mid court and ball protection is needed. Players should get the dribble lower as they approach a defender, so they must lower it when nearing mid court and then make the move.
E. Also, protect the ball from defenders by raising the off-arm with a bent elbow to keep opponents from reaching in to swipe at the ball as they near mid court.
F. When making a move at mid court, the player must elude a would be defender by changing direction laterally enough to avoid that defender. Drills #2 through #5 are not straight line drills like Drill #1.
G. A balanced jump stop and aggressive pivot are important fundamentals that should not be ignored in this drill either. Insist on this at the far end.
These five dribbling skills were just about all we needed for getting out of trouble or creating open scoring paths. By teaching them this way and using them often, we developed both hands so that the players were eventually comfortable going in any direction to escape trouble. While this warmup drill was for everyone on the team, we also had other ball handling drills for attacking pressure defenses in our Daily Group Breakdown Sessions for the guards. Avoiding traps, getting out of traps, and surviving traps was part of our Pressure Defensive Attack routine in these sessions. We also incorporated these dribble moves into our half court lay up drills, working on eluding a defender as we attacked the basket.
Good ball handling skills are important for handling pressure defenses, but they also make better all-around basketball players too. Try including them in your workouts and practices and see the difference.
For more on Ball Handling Skills and Handling Pressure Defenses, see Chapter 13 in Coach Battenberg’s book, You Can Run With Anyone.