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How To Improve Your Basketball Handles – Tips & Tricks

How To Improve Your Basketball Handles
Last Updated on: March 3, 2023

How To Improve Your Basketball Handles

Handling a basketball isn’t the easiest task for newcomers and people who are now starting to learn how to play ball. This is why there are countless of online courses, videos, and articles on this exact topic flooding the internet constantly. Here, I am going to do things differently. I will emphasize on the tips that most of those online coaches often forget mentioning and that are crucial to the development of a steady basketball handling. Simply put, I won’t teach you how to improve your basketball handles but give you the tips needed to excel and perfect the whole process once you get started!

To improve your handle and have an overall better control over the basketball when playing, you should focus on these essential tips:

  • Keep the dribble at your finger pads
  • Dribble the ball harder
  • Keep your center of gravity as low as possible

Other things that will take your handles to the next level are actually protecting the ball when it’s in your possession, improving your footwork, and reading your team mates. 

Before I get started I want to mention that the place for your practicing really doesn’t matter. Sure, different surfaces will make the ball bounce in a different way but at the end, all that matters is how much you train and how focused you stay. Consistency is what will take you through the learning process the right way. My best tip to anyone who is now starting to learn basketball is to put aside even 30 minutes a day just to get used to the feeling of the ball. You can even throw it in the air only if you want to, just let your hands feel the grip and get used to holding it, the rest will come with time and practice.

Now, let’s get started with some of what I consider the best tips for better ball handling.

Keep The Dribble At Your Fingers

The part of your hand that should be touching and dribbling the ball should be your fingers, and more specifically – their pads. This is the first thing basketball players learn and is the key to a steady handle and dribble.

Don’t dribble the ball with your hand’s palm or the finger tips. The way you dribble and handle the ball should be the same position as you have the ball in your hands when shooting. You need to aim for a smooth downwards push with your pads. The wrist should also stay active during this process. Try snapping it along with the ball’s movement when handling the basketball.

Pro Tip: Imagine as if your hand is continuing the movement of the ball both downwards and upwards. That way your wrist will stay more active and control the ball movement better.

Dribble Harder

The second most important tip you need to learn is to pound the basketball harder. handling the ball actually means to keep it under your control. The faster you dribble the ball the less time the other team’s defender will have to snatch it from you.

No matter what ball you are training with, you should always try to pound is as hard as possible. That will also develop wrist-strength.

Keep It Low

keeping it low basketball

Handling is about center of gravity and distributing your weight evenly and nicely throughout your moves. As Gary Payton once said, the lower player always wins. Having your shoulder at your opponent’s hip will allow you to outplay him and control the game better.

Getting low isn’t easy, though. Strength, mobility, and stability are the key factors to playing low. Those aren’t qualities that you always train on the court and this is why you should never skip gym practices.

One more advantage of being lower is that the ball will be away from you for less time, ultimately giving you more control and better handling.

Additional Tips

To have a better handling over the basketball you should always protect it. Covering the body with your back against your opponent isn’t always an ideal solution. That prevents you from having an eye on your teammates and the court. Another issue with that is that you won’t be in an offensive position in case you want to shoot. This is why you should open up your stance a little more and be more mobile.

Speaking of mobility…

Understanding Dorsiflexion

Dorsiflexion is a backwards flexion of your foot which is used primarily in running and jumping. Knowing how to improve it and control it allows you to control your body better in dynamic situations and makes your shooting more accurate and tight.

If you want to learn more about basketball shooting click here.

Another tip that will greatly affect the way you control the game is your footwork. Be dynamic, move through the court more, change speeds and directions. Try doing it without a ball first just imagining it in your head so that your body can get used to the sudden fast movements. As you progress, slowly add the ball into the equation. Some of the moves I like to use to outplay any defender are:

Keep Your Head Up

What most players don’t do right is keeping their head up during plays. Not bowing down allows you to keep your eyes on your target (the ring) and on your teammates. You can practice that by keeping an eye on a certain point of a wall around you.

Imagine Scenarios

Try imagining different scenarios where you are in front of a defender to see how you would implement your dribbles and moves and see whether your ball handling is good enough to perform that around a person.

Stay Outside Your Comfort Zone

Keep your training at awkward tempos, change positions constantly, shoot more, sweat more. All those things will make you a better player. Experiment with your ball control and dribbles. The more you stay out of your comfort zone, the better you will be and the faster you will progress. Remember, comfort is the number one enemy of progress.

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Doing It From Home

Once you learn all the tips I listed here it is easy to figure out that you can try dribbling and handling the ball anywhere you at. At home is actually the best place to practice your control and dribble (unless you live in an apartment and there are actual people living beneath you). Keep your head up, use your wrists, and use your fingers to dribble the ball. If you have the room to move, move around! Try using a tennis ball to advance your skills faster and once you are comfortable enough move to a bigger rubber basketball.

If you don’t have much space, try clearing out a circle and dribble in the middle of it while you go clockwise or counterclockwise. Don’t forget to keep your body low and eyes fixed in a point at the wall where a basketball hoop would usually be.

Now, here are some of the questions that people most often ask when it comes to dribbling and handling.

Related Questions

How Do You Become A Good Dribbler?

Dribbling is an essential step towards becoming a good basketball player. Some of the key element you have to keep in mind when practicing are:

  • Keep the ball contact gentle without hard sudden movements
  • Keep the ball bouncing close to your body
  • Try keeping the ball in your lower peripheral vision
  • Keep changing the pace
  • To protect the basketball, use your own body

Of course, there is more to it but those are the fundamentals of getting the hang of it. Ball dribbling also hardly varies between court surfaces so keep that in mind. If you want to build your own court, I have the perfect article on the topic.

Does Dribbling With A Smaller Basketball Help?

In short – yes, it does. The explanation behind that is that dribbling with smaller balls such as a tennis ball is harder than using a large rubber basketball and can improve your hand-eye coordination greatly. This on its own helps with your dribbling skills and results in a better ball control when on the court. Tennis balls are also ideal for no-look dribble drills.

Final Words

Learning how to improve your basketball handles can be a hard task but when following specific instructions, guidelines, and tips it will feel way easier, trust me. Following an already proven system is what head coaches throughout the states rely on and it is what makes great players. Remember, the key to good progress is consistency, so keep drilling until you feel comfortable with any new technique you acquire.