How to Dribble a Basketball
Learning how to dribble a basketball is the primary step in learning how to play the game of basketball. Passing helps to move the ball quicker, spread the ball among teammates and effectively create space for open shots. However, when first learning the game by oneself, dribbling is the essential component - it helps a player navigate himself or herself around the court as well as develop a sense of balance and coordination with the ball that is perhaps the most important element of becoming a great basketball player. Dribbling can help players move the ball up the court on offense, help a player move past his or her man to the basket with speed, escape a trap defense, get open for a shot, move to a space on the court for a better passing angle, and control the tempo of the game.
- Emphasize soft hands. The first step to teaching a player how to dribble is to emphasize that they have "soft hands." That is, the player should not push the ball down with a stiff hand or with too much force. The player's hand should give with the dribble, their fingers should be slightly cupped in order to receive the bounce of the ball once it comes off the court.
- Keep the head up. The second step to learning how to dribble is to have the player keep his or her head up. A player that dribbles with his or her head down is not a very useful player and can often get into trouble on the court because they are not aware of the defense or the location of their teammates on the floor. When learning how to dribble, the player should stand in place with his or her head up and dribble the ball up and down with control. This practice will help develop the good habit of keeping the player's head up so that he or she will be able to correctly survey the court when dribbling. This will assist the player in not only learning how to dribble and become a better dribbler, but a better passer, shooter and all around player.
- Move with the ball. The third step to learning how dribble is to have the player dribble back and forth across the court in a "Z" pattern while keeping his or her head up. As the player becomes more comfortable dribbling with his or her head up, then the speed can be increased. By putting the player through these dribbling repetitions, he or she will become more and more coordinated with their ball handling, as well as controlling their body to maintain their head up and looking around the court. In addition, the player will understand the court perimeters and spacing, which are also vital parts of the game. As the speed of their dribbling and movement in "Z" patterns increases, the player will become more and more confident with their dribbling so that once they enter a game setting, they will not be made uncomfortable by a defender.
- Expanding on the basics. Dribbling is not merely pushing the ball up and down however. Once a player has become efficient in standard dribbling and navigating the court in a game setting with their head up, then they may be taught the many variations of dribbling such as the cross over, the between the leg dribble, the behind the back dribble and the in and out. Each of these techniques can prove to be effective in losing a defender and opening up passing lanes, driving lanes and shooting space. However, if a player can not learn how to dribble a basketball basically with his or her head up and navigate the court effectively, then these variations prove useless.
Learning how to dribble a basketball is an essential stepping stone in becoming a great basketball player and it opens up a player to the other multitudes and facets of the game of the basketball.