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How to Get Better at Dribbling: Finding Your Style

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Last Updated on: March 3, 2023

sports players playing a game

If you’ve just joined a team or you’ve recently taken up an interest in b-ball, then shooting and rebounds may be your initial focus, but all players at one point or another will need to learn how to get better at dribbling for ultimate control over the ball, in the heat of the moment, when it’s a matter of making it down the court unscathed or sinking a shot. But ball control isn’t quite as easy as the pros make it look. In fact, it’s a matter of skill and it can take several months to learn this type of control or to even find your style of dribbling that jibes with the way you move on the court.   New players usually don’t feel very confident when they’re on the court, especially when they’ve been passed the ball and the shot clock is running out. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to improve your game, starting off dribbling the right way, so you can fly down the court with total control.

If you want to learn how to get better at dribbling the first step is ensuring you’re using your finger pads to dribble, not the palm of your hands or your fingertips. Next, practice controlling the ball. Focus on the different styles of dribbling and practice each type daily in order to not only improve your control over the ball but to build muscle memory so your hands will know what to do when you’re in the middle of a game. By practicing these tips often, you can easily improve your dribbling technique and gain more control over the ball in a matter of weeks.

Read on to learn about the different tips and tricks you can use to improve your dribbling, check out the different dribbling styles, and learn what you can do to defend the ball against your opponents.

Hand Placement

Hand Placement

To start, when you dribble, pay close attention to the part of your hand that you’re dribbling with. In order to have the most control over the ball as you dribble, you need to dribble using your finger pads. Never dribble with the palm of your hand or with your fingertips. If you have trouble remembering this, keep in mind that the way you make contact with the ball should be very similar to how you handle the ball when you shoot.

Instead of running down the court and slapping at the ball with the palm of your hand, the goal is a smooth push down using the finger pads.

Additionally, as you’re going down the court, you want to snap your wrist, just like you’d pop it when you’re making a jump shot. This helps to ensure that the ball is making contact with the ground in the right spot and will come back into your hand the right way.

Use More Force

When you’re dribbling you need to use more force and essentially pound the ball into the court. The longer a ball remains out of your hands, the more time you’re giving the defender to steal it. When you dribble harder, the ball will return to your hand faster. Basically, you’ll have more control over the ball.

Learning how to use more force when you dribble will take practice. It’s all about muscle memory, which means you’ll need to put in the work by training and focusing on this technique. So regardless of whether you’re playing a fun game of one on one with a friend or practicing drills on the court, each time you have that ball in your hands and you’re dribbling down the court, focus on using more force. You’ll notice the results right away.

Practicing this often will condition you to use this same type of control and force when you’re in a real game and the pressure is on.

Dribbling Styles

There are several different styles of dribbling, whether it’s power dribbling or open court. You may notice that each of your teammates is better at one style than another. In order to get better at dribbling, give each of these styles a shot and remember to utilize the right type depending on where you are on the court and where you’re headed.

Open Court

Open Court

This type of dribbling will give the player the ability to get up and down the court faster. But with open court dribbling, you’ll usually see a beginner come in and grab a rebound, then put their head down and dribble up the court. This usually isn’t the best move because this type of dribbling should be perfected before it’s attempted. Practice avoiding traps and swiping hands when you’re open court dribbling. To do, you’ll need to be able to dribble at full speed and use both your hands as you keep your head up in order to keep an eye on the other players. This can be very difficult for beginners. More often than not, this style of dribbling is a better choice for shorter players. When you’re closer to the floor you’ll have more of an advantage and you’ll have more control over the ball.


This type of dibble is very different than open court. It happens when you’re within shooting distance of the hoop and shouldn’t take more than a couple of dribbles to get to the front of the rim. This style of dribbling should be as straight and powerful to the basket as possible. You’ll usually only have a second to execute it and you may end up dribbling directly into traffic. To do, you’ll need to focus on your timing and find the right moment to dribble the ball without another player coming in to try and steal it.


A power dribble is often a better choice for taller players who can gather their balance before they go up to the hoop. However, this type of dribble can come in handy for any player on the court. However, height isn’t always a factor and it’s still considered a versatile type of dribbling that even a shorter player can take advantage of if executed correctly. This type of dribble involves using extra force to power down the court.

Skills Necessary for Dribbling

Control is probably the most obvious skill you’ll need. You must know where you’re headed with the ball in order to dribble as effectively as possible. Otherwise, you’ll quickly end up losing the ball. You must learn how to be an offensive dribbler, otherwise, you’re nothing more than a liability to your team. If the open court style dribbling isn’t a good fit for you, try power dribbling which won’t take quite as much practice.



It’s not going to matter how good you are at dribbling if you end up giving over the ball each time it’s unlucky enough to land in your hands. Never leave the ball vulnerable when you’re moving down the court. You’ll need to learn how to shield the ball from other players as you dribble. For this, power dribbling is also a great option. You’ll need to pay attention to everything that’s going on around you, know where your teammates are, and just as importantly, keep one eye on your opponents. This can take more practice than learning how to control the ball, but it will save you from the humiliation that will come if your opponents are constantly able to steal the ball from you.

Related Questions

Do You Need To Learn How to Use Both Hands When You Dribble?

Yes. A player should be able to dribble using both hands, otherwise, you’ll end up on the bench if you strain one wrist or suffer from fatigue. This goes for every player in every position on the court and every style of dribbling. If you don’t practice this, then a defender can easily just cut off your strong hand and end up steering you where you don’t want to go.

Should I Also Practice at Home?

For any player on a team, after school practice sessions just aren’t enough, especially if you’re trying to improve your jump shots or dribbling technique. The more you practice, the better you’ll get, especially if you play against friends or a family member. If you’re looking for a pro-quality, regulation hoop, we recommend the Lifetime 51544 Front Court Portable Basketball System.

What is Double Dribbling?

Players can double dribble in a couple of different ways. The first occurs the most often and it’s basically when a player stops dribbling voluntarily and then starts dribbling again while failing to shoot or pass the ball to another player. Without the double dribble rule, a player can simply pick up the ball and hold onto it, dribble again and then continue to repeat this cycle without passing the ball and keeping the game going. The second way a player can double dribble is when they have both of their hands on the ball at the same time when they’re in the middle of dribbling. This violation results in the ball getting turned over to the opposition, so it’s definitely a habit you’ll want to break and fast. To learn more, click here to read our article on basketball rules.

Final Thoughts

How to get better at dribbling will take plenty of practice, just like it will when you’re trying to improve any skill out on the court. Focus on learning how to use both your hands to dribble, practice mastering all the different styles of dribbling, and above all, learn how to control the ball, use your finger pads to dribble, and defend the ball at all costs. Practicing your techniques at home using a good portable basket hoop for a driveway can also help you perfect your new dribbling skills and can really help you find your groove as you become more comfortable shooting under pressure. With consistent daily practice, you’ll find that your focus and control has improved significantly out on the court and within a matter of weeks.