Ball handling is one of the most important basketball fundamentals. It allows players to move around the court while protecting the orange. It also allows them to eliminate their defender in 1v1 situations. Understanding the basics of ball handling is essential if you want to become a complete basketball player.
Today, I am going to give you a ton of tips and show you the best basketball ball handling drills you can perform in order to skyrocket your handles.
Ball Handling Tips
Before we jump into the specifics of the different drills you can operate to improve your ball handling, here are some tips or reminders for every baller out there. These essentials will help you perfect your handles naturally.
#1 – Bend your knees. This will lower your center of gravity and will allow you to better protect the ball while being more dynamic.
#2 – Bounce the ball in a gentle and smooth manner. The last thing we want is to aggressively bounce the ball which can cause more turnovers.
#3 – Keep your head up. Look forward, observe what’s going on on the court. Better put, do not look at the ball. A lot of players have this bad habit that is quite hard to shake off. What I usually recommend for players who tend to have this issue, is using glasses that force you to look up ahead.
Basketball Stationary Handling Drills With One Ball
Now that we went over some quick tips to get you started, it’s time to get to work and practice your handles. I have crafted this list of amazing drills that will allow you to work on your basketball handling skills with both hands, in motion or stationarily.
Here’s a great warm-up exercise that’ll help you build strength while developing your grabbing mechanics. Definitely a great drill to improve your hands.
- Step 1: Place both your hands on the basketball
- Step 2: Spread your fingers to cover the widest area possible
- Step 3: Slap the basketball dynamically
- Step 4: Alternate each rep between your left and right hand
Another awesome warm-up drill for you to improve your handles. You want to make sure your arms and elbows are locked while taping the ball back and forth between your left and right hand.
Once you start getting a good hold of this drill, move your arms up while continuously performing the exercise. The goal is to have your arms fully extended above your head while increasing the speed.
This drill is to be performed until you feel a slight burn in your shoulders, biceps, and triceps.
- Step 1: Place the ball on either hand
- Step 2: Start bouncing the ball from left to right by only using your wrists and fingertips
- Step 3: While doing so, raise your hand above your head. Make sure to go as high as you can, well above your head
- Step 4: Increase speed and lower the distance between your hands
Alright, let’s get dribbling with this very basic, yet effective drill: the crossover.
This type of drill is used by any type of player and is super hard to defend if executed correctly. This drill will help you develop a better and softer touch and will turn you into a fine ball handler.
While performing this drill, keep your head up, look straight ahead, and crossover the ball from left to right, from one knee to another.
- Step 1: Begin in a low athletic stance.
- Step 2: Dribble the ball back and forth in a crossover motion. Make sure to pound the ball as hard as you can.
- Step 3: While doing so, move your shoulders from left to right, in the same motion as your dribble.
- Step 4: Pick up some speed and keep the drill going for 30 seconds.
Single Leg Ball Wraps
This drill is to be performed with your eyes and head up, as quickly as possible. Put one leg forward and start moving the ball around it. Make sure the ball doesn’t hit the floor and keep it revolving around your leg as smoothly and rapidly as you can.
- Step 1: Place one leg forward and crouch a little
- Step 2: Start moving the ball around your leg clock-wise
- Step 3: Pick up the speed and try to reach 60 wraps in 30 seconds without dropping the ball
- Step 4: Switch legs and repeat steps 1 to 3
Figure-Eight No Dribble Drill
The figure-eight no dribble basketball drill initiates with your feet being laterally spread outside of shoulder-width along with a basketball in your right hand. The next step is to then switch the ball between your legs to your left hand. Then bring the ball around the front, and then make another switch again to your right hand. By now you can tell the motion is a figure-eight pattern. Try this for approximately 20-30 seconds and then attempt to switch paths in reverse for another 20-30 seconds.
- Step 1: Feet outside shoulder width and knees bent with a ball in the right hand
- Step 2: Switch ball between legs to opposing hand
- Step 3: Bring it to the front and then switch to the opposing hand again
- Step 4: Repeat the process for 20-30s and then reverse the path for another 20-30s
Low-Dribble Basketball Drill
Initiate the drill with your feet spread apart outside of shoulder-width and start to dribble the ball at your most optimal pace at around 6 inches from the ground. Once you have control of the speed start to move the ball around and between your legs in a figure-eight pattern. Continue this maneuver for 30 seconds. Keep the ball low to the ground throughout and do not look down when conducting the drill. Now, this may seem similar to the figure eight drill, however, it involves high-speed dribbling rather than moving the ball in the air.
- Step 1: Feet outside of shoulder-width apart
- Step 2: Dribble ball at your fastest speed 6” off the ground
- Step 3: Dribble the ball around and between legs in a figure-eight motion
- Step 4: Conduct this for 30s at a time
Alternate Between Legs Drill
Start with feet outside of shoulder-width apart with your knees bent. Ensure the ball is in your right hand and dribble it between your legs to your opposing left hand. Then alternate the position of your legs and switch the ball back through to your right hand. Repeat this process at high speed for 30 seconds. Always stay in a low balanced position whilst keeping your eyes up the whole time.
- Step 1: Feet outside shoulder width in a low balanced position
- Step 2: Dribble ball from right to left hand through legs
- Step 3: Repeat process and switch leg stance
- Step 4: Complete this process for 30s at high speed
Continuous Dribble Behind The Back
Start in a traditional low dribbling stance with feet outside of shoulder width with the ball in your right hand. Cross the ball behind your back to your left hand. As quickly as you can return the dribble back to your right hand and continue this process for 30 seconds and come to a stop. Ensure to keep your head high and keep practising if you go wrong.
- Step 1: Start in a low dribble position with feet outside shoulder width
- Step 2: Dribble the ball behind your back from right to left hand
- Step 3: Immediately dribble the ball back to the left hand
- Step 4: Repeat this for 30s intervals and stop
Basketball On The Move Handling Drills With One Ball
3 Bounce Crossover Drill
The player starts 6-8 feet from the 3 point line on the wing while the partner, or chair if no partner available, will be stationed on the 3 point line. The player with the ball will take three stationary dribbles with their outside hand and on the 3rd dribble, they will push forward towards the partner/chair and make a crossover in the middle of the obstacle before pushing the ball past them and finishing in the basket. Repeat for desired amounts and switch sides to diversify the drill.
- Step 1: Start 6-8 feet from 3 point line and make 3 stationary dribbles
- Step 2: Crossover the obstacle placed on the 3 point line and push the ball out
- Step 3: Once the ball is pushed out make a shot at the basket (use variety)
- Step 4: Repeat as desired and switch sides
Bust Out and Retreat Drill
Player stays low and engaged, ready to be explosive and starts on the baseline with focus on the lane line ahead. Push dribble the ball outwards with the right hand to the free-throw line, then come to a stop at the free-throw line before then pushing back with a retreat dribble to baseline.
- Step 1: Player stays in an active posture on the baseline
- Step 2: Push dribble ball ahead to free throw line before coming to a stop
- Step 3: Push back with a retreat dribble to the baseline
- Step 4: Repeat this exercises for 30s and swap hands interchangeably
Behind The Back Rhythm Dribbling Drill
Line up a straightforward row of cones so that each cone is approximately 2-3 feet apart. The player will initiate the drill by standing at one end of the cones with a basketball in hand. They will then start the drill by taking one rhythmic dribble and then quickly repeat this behind the back. It’s key to do this by keeping your eyes up, stay low and engaged, and scan the floor as you progress through the cones. Repeat this process around 2-3 times each.
- Step 1: Line up cones in a straight line approximately 2-3 feet apart
- Step 2: Player starts at one end by taking one rhythmic dribble, followed by a move behind the back
- Step 3: This should be done through each cone and repeated 2-3 times
- Step 4: Ensure eyes are up and the floor is scanned at all times during the drill
Push Crossover Dribble Drill
The player initiates by starting on the baseline whilst standing laterally with the ball in their hand that is facing upwards to the court. The coach, or partner, will then command a “Go!” signal which will then prompt the player to push dribble laterally up the court until the coach changes command. At this point of change, the player will perform a crossover and push dribble in the opposing direction. Throughout the drill, the coach will interchange between directions until the player reaches the opposing baseline which will signal the end of the drill.
- Step 1: Player starts on baseline standing sideways with a ball in hand
- Step 2: Coach/partner will say a command which will force the player to push dribble up the court until a change of command is made
- Step 3: When a change of command is made player will perform a crossover and change direction
- Step 4: Commands are changed throughout until the player reaches the opposite side of the court
Walking Double Crossover Drill
The players will start at the baseline in an engaged position with a ball at hand. They will then conduct a stationary dribble, stop, and then explode with a double crossover combination move while pursuing forward with the movement. At this point, the player should neglect any stationary dribbles in between then repeat the stop and explode movement again until the process is cycled to the free-throw line and then a retreat dribble is completed back to the baseline. Once this is done alter hands for difficulty.
- Step 1: Player starts on the baseline with a ball in hand
- Step 2: Player executes a stationary dribble, stops, then explodes with a double crossover and ventures forward up the court
- Step 3: Stationary dribble is no longer required in between thus only repeating the stop and explode movement
- Step 4: This should be done until the free-throw line is reached and then a retreat dribble is made back to the baseline
1 Dribble Behind Back Change Direction Drill
The player will start at the baseline with a ball and they will pursue forward at optimal speed, take a single dribble, and then conduct a wraparound dribble to the opposing hand. As the play continues to venture forward to the opposite baseline they will continue this process and alternate hands every time. The player will come to a stop at the opposite baseline, turn back and repeat the cycle for their desired times.
- Step 1: Player starts at baseline with the ball at hand
- Step 2: Player will venture forward at full speed, take one dribble, and conduct a wraparound dribble to the opposite hand
- Step 3: For every run, this process will be repeated while alternating hands
- Step 4: Drill comes to a stop when opposing baseline is reached and desired cycles have been completed
Full Court Any Move Diamond Drill
A chair is situated in the centre of both free throw lines and on the half-court line approximately 5-6 feet from the centre circle along with a player starting at each basket with a ball. Each player will throw the ball off the backboard, jump as high as possible to retrieve the rebound, pivot away, and engage with the first chair with their left hand.
When they get to the chair they will either crossover, between the legs, behind the back, or reverse between the legs past the chair before pushing out the ball to engage with the second chair but using a different move from the first chair. Finally, they will engage with the third chair by performing another move before finishing in the basket. The next player will then go or if one person is conducting the drill they can break for 10 seconds and go again.
- Step 1: Chairs placed at each free throw line and on half-court line approximately 5-6 feet apart
- Step 2: Player will start by tossing a ball against the backboard, retrieving the rebound, pivot out and engage with chair 1 with a move
- Step 3: Once the move is complete, push to chairs 2 and 3 by using dribbling moves before finishing at the basket
- Step 4: Have a break, let other player go or have 10s break and repeat the drill for desired times
Basketball Stationary Handling Drills With Two Balls
Two Ball Alternating Pound Dribbling Drill
The drill requires the player to dribble both balls at the same time in an alternating rhythm whilst only letting both balls bounce to around waist height each time. Proceed by dribbling the balls as explosively and as fast as possible for around 30-60 second bouts. Ensure eyes are always kept up and not at the floor throughout.
- Step 1: Player starts by dribbling 2 balls at once alternatively
- Step 2: Let balls bounce around waist height
- Step 3: Dribble balls explosively and fast as possible
- Step 4: Repeat process for 30-60s bouts
Two Ball Broken Windshield Wiper Dribbling Drill
The player initiates the drill in an engaged stance with a ball in each hand and will then dribble both balls in front of them in a sweeping windshield wiper motion. As opposed to going side to side, the balls will go from inside to outside to emphasise the windshield motion that’s required. This process should be continued for around 30-60 second intervals.
- Step 1: Player stands engaged with a ball in each hand
- Step 2: Player then dribbles the ball in front
- Step 3: This is done from inside to outside to replicate a windshield wiper motion
- Step 4: Process is repeated for around 30-60s intervals
Two Ball Pound Dribbling Drill
The player must engage in a stance that is just outside shoulder-width apart whilst ensuring bend in the knees. They will then dribble both balls simultaneously as hard and as quick as they can at approximately waist height. This should be repeated for around 30-60 seconds before coming to a complete stop. It’s important to keep the back straight, keep eyes forward, ensure butt is relatively low for the centre of mass and keep basketballs between the knees and feet whilst scanning the floor at all times during the drill.
- Step 1: Player stands engaged with feet just outside shoulder-width apart
- Step 2: Both balls are to then be dribbled hard and fast at the same time
- Step 3: Ensure correct posture throughout the drill and scan the floor
- Step 4: Repeat the cycle for 30-60s bouts
Two Ball Side Windshield Wiper Drill
The player will have two balls at hand ready in an engaged stance. They will then dribble both balls from the side of their body in a sweeping motion, such as a windshield wiper. This is then repeated continuously for 30-60 seconds before having a rest. It’s vital to keep a neutral spine and keep your head up at all times during the drill.
- Step 1: Player is standing engaged with two balls in hands
- Step 2: Both balls are then dribbled on the outside of the body
- Step 3: This is done in a sweeping motion while keeping head up
- Step 4: Repeat process for around 30-60s bouts
Two Ball Alternating Circle Drill
The player’s legs should be spread outside of shoulder-width with a ball in each hand. They will then proceed to dribble the balls simultaneously around the same leg by going reverse between both legs each time. This is maintained until the coach instructs the player to change legs. To make it harder you can also alternate legs so it replicates a figure-eight motion.
- Step 1: Players stands engaged with two balls in each hand
- Step 2: Dribble balls around the same leg by going reverse each time
- Step 3: Continue until coach instructs to change leg or motion
- Step 4: Continue for around 30-60s bouts
Two Ball Crossover Hold Drill
The first step is for the player to be holding a ball with their left hand against their stomach and then cross the ball in their right hand over to their left hand, as the ball bounces off the ground. Then they will put their right hand on the ball that is placed on their stomach whilst removing their left hand away to receive the dribble. After this, they will cross the ball back to their right hand and then alternate hands so their left-hand goes back onto the ball placed on their stomach. This process is repeated for around 30 seconds.
- Step 1: Hold the ball in the left hand against your stomach
- Step 2: Cross the ball in the right hand to your left as the ball bounces
- Step 3: Place right hand on the ball that is placed on your stomach and take your left hand off at the same time to receive the dribble
- Step 4: Cross ball back to right your right hand and alternate the process for 30s
Two Ball Over The Top Crossover Drill
The player firstly gains a rhythmic pattern by dribbling on the spot with both balls before then crossing the ball in their right hand over the top while the ball in the left is push-dribbled underneath. The right over left process is repeated with no dribbles in between and should be done for the desired time. Alter the drill by switching the process or alternating each for what hand is selected to go over the top on the dribble.
- Step 1: Player dribbles rhythmically on spot with both balls
- Step 2: Then crosses the ball in their right hand over the top while ball in the left hand is push dribbled under
- Step 3: This should be done with no dribbles in between
- Step 4: Repeat for the desired time and alternate paths if necessary
Two Ball Reverse Circle Dribble Drill
Player stands with a ball in each hand whilst ensuring legs are outside shoulder width. They will then dribble both balls simultaneously and start to wrap both balls around their right leg. One of the balls will go reverse between their legs and the spare ball will go around the front. After this, a stationary pound dribble is done and the move is repeated over. This should be done for around 30 seconds before switching legs.
- Step 1: Player stands engaged with a ball in each hand
- Step 2: Both balls are dribbled at the same time while wrapping both balls around the right leg
- Step 3: One ball will then go reverse between legs and the other around the front leg
- Step 4: Take a stationary dribble then cycle the move for 30s and switch hands
Basketball On The Move Handling Drills With Two Balls
Two Ball Box Dribbling Drill
Start the drill by placing four cones in a box shape approximately 8-10 feet apart and the player will start at one of the cones by dribbling both balls at the same time and venturing forward. As they reach the next cone they will breakdown and move sideways to the 3rd cone before then breakdown again and backpedalling to the 4th cone. From the 4th cone, they will then move sideways again to the last/first cone and repeat the cycle for a desired amount of time. Ensure to start at different cones for every round.
- Step 1: Place four cones in a box shape around 8-10 feet apart
- Step 2: Player starts at a cone and dribble forward with both balls to the next cone
- Step 3: Depending on where the next cone is placed they will either move sideways or backpedal to the next position until reaching the last/first cone
- Step 4: Repeat the process for the desired time and change starting cone for each round
Two Ball Bounce Double Crossover Drill
Initiate on the baseline with a ball in each hand then start to dribble both balls whilst walking in a straight line. Then take your left hand off the ball and let it bounce and while it’s in the air conduct a double crossover with the other ball. Finally, place your left hand back on the ball that was freely bounced before it touches the ground again. Swap hands after a couple of dribbles before reaching the baseline then repeating the drill going backwards.
- Step 1: Start on the baseline with ball in each hand while dribbling forward
- Step 2: Take the left hand off the ball and let it bounce, while it’s airborne then perform a double crossover with the spare ball
- Step 3: Then place left hand back on the ball that was airborne before it touches the ground again
- Step 4: Swap hands after every other dribble towards the baseline then repeat for the desired time but going backwards
Two Ball Attack Crossover and Shoot Drill
The player starts at the halfway line with two balls and their coach or partner will be at the free-throw line. As the drill starts the player will dribble forwards to the coach by dribbling alternatively before approaching the 3-point line. The coach will then raise a right or left hand and depending on which hand is raised will determine what side the player conducts a push pass to that side of the coach. After the pass is made they will make a crossover with the other ball and perform a pull-up jump shot at the elbow to complete one repetition.
- Step 1: Player starts at halfway line with two balls and coach/partner starts at the free-throw line
- Step 2: Player will conduct an alternating dribble towards the coach before the coach raises a right or left hand to signal which side to push pass by
- Step 3: After a side has been passed the player will perform a crossover with the spare ball and make a pull-up jump shot at the elbow
- Step 4: This completes one repetition. Repeat as desired.
Two Ball Bounce Behind Back Crossover Drill
Players will start to dribble two balls simultaneously on the baseline as they proceed to walk forward then they will dribble the ball in their left hand with more force so it bounces in the air. As the ball is airborne the player will perform a behind the back crossover with the spare ball. The move must be completed before then placing the left hand back on the ball that was bounced. Continue this pattern while alternating hands until the player reaches the opposite baseline and then the move is to be done backwards.
- Step 1: Player dribbles two balls on the baseline as they walk forward
- Step 2: They will dribble the ball in their left hand with some force so it bounces in the air and then will perform a behind the back crossover with the spare ball
- Step 3: Move must be completed before placing the left hand back on the ball that was bounced
- Step 4: Continue the pattern by alternating hands until reaching the opposite baseline and repeating the drill backwards
Two Ball Behind The Back Dribble Drill
Players will start with a ball in each hand at the baseline before proceeding to dribble both balls at the same time with one between their legs and the other being a crossover in front. They will then walk forward and conduct this movement down the court and alternate which leg the ball passes through every time while the ball in front stays in front through this duration. Once the baseline has been met, switch the drill so it’s performed backwards.
- Step 1: Players start with a ball in each hand at the baseline and dribble both balls so one is between legs and one is a crossover in front of them
- Step 2: They will proceed forward up the court and alternate which leg the ball passes through
- Step 3: The ball in front will stay in front throughout the drill
- Step 4: Reach the baseline then repeat the drill backwards
Two Ball Walking Crossover Drill
Players start in a low and engaged stance before proceeding to do crossovers while walking the length of the court with balls in either hand. The same ball will be kept in front throughout the duration. As soon as the player reaches the opposing baseline they will do the very same drill but in a backwards manner.
- Step 1: Players will start in an athletic stance with a ball in each hand
- Step 2: They will then perform crossovers while walking the length of the court while keeping the same ball in front through the whole drill
- Step 3: They will do this until they reach the opposing baseline
- Step 4: After this, the drill is to be performed backwards before reaching the starting baseline
Two Ball Rhythm Dribble Walking Drill
Initiate on the baseline with a ball in each hand and proceed to walk forward. The starting move is 2 crossovers, then 2 between the legs, then 2 behind the backs before finally 2 reverse between the legs. Repeat the drill once more with crossovers to the end line before doing the same thing again but doing so backwards.
- Step 1: Start on the baseline with ball in each hand and walk forward
- Step 2: Then start by doing 2 crossovers, then 2 between the legs, then 2 behind the backs and ending with 2 reverse between the legs
- Step 3: Continue the drill until the end of the line
- Step 4: Once the end line has been reached repeat the drill to the start line but going backwards
Basketball Handling Drills - Frequently Asked Questions
How can I improve my ball handling in 5 minutes?
Try a drill that requires many elements of walking or being stationary and require fast movements such as crossovers or behind the back dribbles.
How can I improve my ball handling skills?
Improving ball-handling is simply down to practising as many skills and drills as you can at different speeds and movements but doing so religiously so it becomes second nature.
Is dribbling the ball high a carry?
It’s possible to dribble the ball as high as you want just as long as your hand stays on top of the ball.
How long does it take to get good ball handling?
Like anything in life to get good ball-handling, it requires months if not years of practice to become an expert at handling the ball.
How can I improve my basketball handles without a ball?
You can improve ball handling without a ball simply by mimicking drills or movements that would usually be performed without a ball.
Final Words - Basketball Ball Dribbling Drills
Now first of all, I want to apologize in advance if the description of these basketball dribbling drills were slightly robotic and bland but I wanted to ensure the instructions were as plain and simple as possible so it’s easier for you to conduct them! With that said, I believe there are many drills in this article that can be performed at beginner, intermediate or advanced levels that all have a degree of focus on specific skill sets that are widely available with very limited resources.
To improve a given skill it’s vastly important to train religiously, even if you don’t like to train or you can’t quite grasp a certain drill. I remember the GOAT himself Michael Jordan saying, “To learn to succeed, you must first learn to fail.” which I hope should resonate with everybody who reads this article. If you have determination, willpower and hunger mixed with the drills provided above I have no doubt your game will improve exponentially.
Make sure you are disciplined with your approach and do what is necessary to ensure you are improving every day whether it’s through your drills, nutrition or recovery as they all work hand in hand together. Last but not least, please ensure you are having fun and working towards a goal.