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Teaching Basketball Dribbling For Quick Improvement In The Least Time

April 05, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 173

Teaching basketball dribbling is vital for coaches at any level. It may seem like a drag because you probably have a zillion other things on your practice plan! Here are some of the basic fundamentals you don't want to overlook. I'll also share how to make the most of your practice time for quick ball handling improvement!

1- Teaching Basketball Dribbling Basics

When teaching basketball dribbling, it's important to drill the fundamentals. No matter what age you're coaching, the basics are key.

Any of you ever take piano? It's like doing scales. I always hated doing scales! But you have to use them to warm up your fingers and make sure you can hit the notes easily. It's the same with ball handling.

Here are a few of the most important fundamentals of teaching basketball dribbling:

Keep your eyes up. You can't dribble down court or make a good pass while looking down. Looking up is vital!

Practice both left and right hands. So many players make the mistake of only working on their dominant hand. I recently heard a high school coach talking to a player who swung from JV to Varsity. He told her, "You have to use your left hand. The reason you haven't played as much or progressed in our program very far is because you won't use your use your left hand." Don't let that be you!

Stay low. You have to take up space and protect the ball with your body. Otherwise someone will steal it from you. Always stay low, even with the most basic dribbling drills. This will ingrain the habit!

Dribble below your knees. If you're bouncing it up around your waist, it's too high. Once again, it's easily stolen, and you have less control. The lower the bounce, the more control you have and the more quickly you can change direction with the ball. Only bounce as high as your knees. Of course, this changes a bit when you're doing full sprint dribbling. In this case you keep it low but it may bounce up a little higher as you run.

2- Have Multiple Lines Going At Once

This may sound basic, but in practice you want as many players working on a skill at one time as possible. Time spent waiting in line is time wasted.

Here's one way to set it up:

  • 5 lines of three across the baseline (team of 15)
  • Each person has a ball.
  • On the whistle, first five dribble out to free throw line and jumpstops in triple threat.
  • Next whistle, first group dribbles to half court, second group dribbles to free throw.
  • The drill continues to the other end. This helps to maximize the time each player is actively working on the skill.

One other idea for teaching basketball dribbling is starting groups in opposite corners of the court on opposite baselines. This would be for speed dribble, full speed behind the back, or other quick burst dribbling drills. You would use a single file line of ball handling. So, by splitting them into two groups, you have two shorter lines instead of one long line. Players get twice as much time practicing.

3- Maximize Time In Practice

Maximizing all of your practice time to develop skills is very useful. It does take some planning. I was an assistant coach at a high school once and saw the coach do this very well. It was impressive how he got each player the most practice time and the least standing around time possible.

What he would do is he'd plan to have six players working on 3-on-3 half court. The other 6 players (or so) would be with an assistant coach doing sprints with full court ball handling and behind the back dribbling drills. After a few minutes they would switch.

This way, no one was standing around on the baseline. The coach has to give his attention to a smaller group and really focus until they got it. He didn't worry that he had to get another group in because they were off doing something else. Also, the players' minds were kept alert by varying the activity and keeping them engaged in different things.

4- Put It Into A Live Situation

Of course you have to go from ball handling basics to game-like situations. One popular drill that I think is very useful is the zig-zag drill. This works on game speed offense as well as on-ball defense.

Here's how it works:

  • Players are in partners based on position. (Guards with guards etc).
  • Split the team in two on opposite baselines and opposite corners. (partners stay together)
  • One player is Offense, the other is defense. They "zig-zag" from the sideline to about the lane line, working their way down court going right then left. Defense can try to turn the offense back and forth.
  • At the other end, the O & D switch and they jump in the line going the other way down the court.
  • You can start out with defense in position only (no steals) and work up to full speed, live with steals etc.
  • If the ball gets stolen or the offense gets by the D, just stop and re-start where you were to complete the drill.

Teaching basketball dribbling is one of the most critical pieces of the game. It's easy to overlook when there is so much strategy and other work that needs to be done in practice. But hopefully today I've given you some tools that will help you get the most ball handling improvement from your team in the shortest time!

Heather Goffrier is the founder of Her passion is to encourage basketball players and coaches in gaining skill, confidence and health. For a free 15 minute ball handling workout, visit:

Source: EzineArticles
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