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Youth Basketball Ball Handling Tips & Drills

The point guard is the straw that stirs the drink on the basketball floor, and though he or she generally does the majority of a basketball team's ball handling, all players should develop their ball handling skills.

Author: Trevor Sumner
Date: Jan 3, 2010 - 2:32:33 PM

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The point guard is the straw that stirs the drink on the basketball floor, and though he or she generally does the majority of a basketball team's ball handling, all players should develop their ball handling skills. It is a core basketball skill for the guards and somewhat less important to the forwards, who in many cases should be discouraged from putting the ball on the floor at all. However, youth basketball coaches should have the long term development of their basketball players in mind. A player who is a forward or center at a young age may only grow tall enough to play guard by the end of high school, so even players who dribble less early in their development need to work hard on their ball handling skills.

One of the great things about ball control basketball drills is that you can do them anywhere, so it is easy to get in as much ball control practice as you want. This is a basketball skill that can be worked on at formal practices and we will share some ball control drills in this article, but players should be encouraged to take a basketball with them whenever they can and make a habit of working on their dribbling skills anytime they are walking around. We always say that basketball is a lifestyle, not just something that you do for a couple of hours at practice or during a game, and the great players don't just play the game: they live the game.

Below are some tips for proper basketball ball handling techniques as well as some fun drills for your youth basketball team’s practice. You can also find more free basketball skills & drills videos and tutorials online at websites like

Basketball Ball Control Tips

  • Keep your dribble low, at waist level or below.
  • Dribble the basketball with your fingertips for total control.
  • Don't dribble the ball directly in front of you; it should be to the side of your torso.
  • Players should look up when dribbling rather than keeping their head down watching the ball.
  • Good ball handlers need to be able to dribble with either hand.
  • Use your body and forearm to protect the basketball from defenders.

Basketball Ball Control Drills
  • Highs & Lows
    Players start dribbling the ball at waist level. They gradually dribble it higher and higher until it is as high as they can reach without losing control. Then they start bringing it down, and when they reach the original waist-point they keep dribbling lower and lower until they get as low as possible, and then they begin to start dribbling higher and higher again. Have them do the drill with each hand. This improves a player's feel for the nuances of the bounce and improves ball control ability.

  • Figure Eight
    Basketball payers dribble the basketball with their finger tips as close to the ground as possible while standing still with their legs spread apart. They should dribble the ball through and around their legs ina figure eight motion and then switch direction after completing the shape a few times in a row without losing control of the ball. Remember to have them keep their heads up throughout the drill. This drill will greatly improve ball control acumen and overall physical coordination.

View all articles by Trevor Sumner

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