When most people think of ball-handling they naturally think of just dribbling the basketball. While that is certainly a large part of it, it is definitely not the only part.
Being able to pass off the dribble and shoot off the dribble are crucial skills that are dependent on being able to handle the ball quickly, efficiently, and without looking down!
If you have to look at the ball while you dribble it, you will never be able to effectively break a press, lead a fast break, run the pick and roll correctly, or shoot a pull up jump shot.
We have found that one of the best ways to improve your ball-handling while eliminating the need to look down is through the use of Dribble Specs, a simple yet effective tool that will give you near immediate improvement.
The first drill is not really a dribbling drill but is actually a warm up drill designed to work on fingertip strength and control while getting used to the ball in your hands.
Keep your legs and arms straight and just bend at the waist. Reach down and start to flip the ball from hand to hand making sure that you keep it only in your fingertips. Keep the ball off the floor and focus on making sure that the ball is above your toes and not hitting the ground.
Go for 30 seconds without an error before changing spots. When you change spots simply bring the ball up to your waist and flip it back and forth there as well. Make sure your arms are completely extended and the ball is only touching your fingertips. Once you have worked the ball around your waist for 30 seconds, circle it above your head for another 30 seconds while following the same rules.
The next drill in the progression is called “Pound Dribbles.” Take a ball and dribble it with one hand as hard and fast as you can for 30 seconds. The ball should literally be pounded into the ground! The ball should be dribbled waist high for the first 30 seconds before switching hands and doing the same thing. After 30 seconds with each hand, the ball is returned to the first hand and the sequence is repeated, but this time the ball is only dribbled knee high. The third sequence of this drill requires that the ball now be dribbled (pounded) no higher than your ankles.
Once you are comfortable with the drill you should start to incorporate 2 balls into the mix by dribbling with each hand at the same time. Again, start first at your waist and then move down below your knee and then finally down to your ankles. Make sure you’re not slapping at the ball but are maintaining control by using your fingertips.
When you first start using two balls utilize what we call “2 Ball Same,” where both balls are dribbled up and down at exactly the same time. Later you can work on “2 Ball Alternate,” where one ball is hitting the floor on its way down while the other ball is on its way up.
Now once you have warmed up and then spent some time executing stationary pound dribbles, it’s time to do a little full court work that you can call “Down & Backs.” Start by dribbling from one baseline to the other as quickly as possible while maintain complete control of the ball. First use your right hand, then your left hand and then use two balls at the same time.
Some things to focus on and remember with this drill:
1. The least amount of dribbles the better. The player should push the ball in front of him making the most of each bounce.
2. The eyes should always be up so as to see the floor.
3. The dribble should go no higher than the waist so that it is easier to control.
4. When using two balls start with “2 Ball Same” and then follow it up with “2 Ball Alternate.”
Don’t let the simplicity of these drills keep you from using them. (After all, if they are really that simple then you shouldn’t have any trouble mastering them!) The drills can be run effectively by themselves but when combined with the Dribble Specs they can elevate your game almost immediately.