Trying to up-skill your ball handling while playing basketball? Most players and coaches use dribbling and ball handling interchangeably. But in reality, these are two very different skills and need to be developed separately.

Dribbling is a fundamental skill of basketball and involves bouncing the ball on the court. This technique can be practiced alone and perfected through repeated drills and exercises.

Ball handling, on the other hand, has a much wider scope and includes dribbling, maneuvering, passing, and decision making during a game. It’s a lot trickier to practice this on your own, but we have a few drills that will help you take your ball handling to the next level.

1) Do Circles

This is a drill that will help improve your control over the ball.

All you have to do is stand with your feet together and circle the ball around it. While circling, slowly move up towards your knees, then your hips, and keep moving upwards till you’re circling the ball around your head.

circling drill

This exercise will help improve your awareness of the ball in relation to your body, and this is important if you wish to train your ball handling technique.

Be sure to repeat this exercise in both directions, clockwise and counterclockwise.

2) Figure 8s

A highly-effective training drill would be to split your legs and weave the ball between them by dribbling it in a ‘figure-8’ motion. Keep your eyes looking forward and try not to drop the ball for at least 30 seconds.

This drill will teach you to effectively weave the ball between your legs during a game, which can help you make a quick getaway when you’re confronted by a tight defense.

3) Endurance Dribbles

Ball handling can be exhausting, and the longer you spend on the court, the harder it is to handle effectively. By improving your endurance, you can lengthen the time for which you are able to dribble. This gives you an opportunity to help your team shoot a few more baskets.

endurance dribbling

To improve your endurance, designate an area for yourself and practice all the dribbling and ball handling techniques you know within that space. Do this for about two minutes, and increase this benchmark by 30 seconds every day until you’re able to maneuver the ball for 5 minutes at a stretch.

4) Drop Catches

This exercise will help improve the speed and reflexes of your arms, helping you become a top-notch ball handler. Place the ball between both feet, and grab it with your hands; your left hand should be in front of you and your right hand at the back.

Holding it this way, drop the ball and allow it to bounce. As the ball bounces, bring your left hand to the back and your right hand out front and catch the ball again. Now, allow it to bounce once more and switch hand positions before catching it.

Repeat this exercise at least 30 times every day and you’ll soon see improvement in your ball handling skills.

Find a Team!

While using these drills can help elevate your ball handling skills to the next level, it’s best to find a team to practice with. Only when you play a game of basketball will you be forced to think and make critical decisions. And since decisions are the most important aspect of ball handling, you need to learn to make the most correct decisions possible during a game.

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