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Ball Handling Drill

September 4, 2017


When I was in college young players would always ask ways that I got good at handling the ball or if there were any drills that I used to get better. I love teaching ball handling and thought it would be a great topic to cover in this article.


Of all the coaches I was taught by the most memorable one was Rick Majerus. This man is amazing. Not only is he funny but he called me names that to this day I don't know what they are. I could listen to his stories for hours but he was an absolutely incredible teacher.


He told me something one day about a player that he coached while he was an assistant at Marquette under Al McGuire that happened to be Doc Rivers. Young guys bear with me. Yes, the coach of the Celtics. Doc Rivers was a great point guard in the NBA and in college.


Coach Majerus would tell me stories about Doc Rivers and his work ethic and I couldn't get enough. He told me stories of Doc and the drills he would do before and after every practice. He was consumed with being better than anyone else but mainly to be more prepared than anyone else. One of the drills Doc would do went something like this:

  • -Run the ball to half court on the right out of bounds line.


  • -Take the ball and do what Doc would call as the push-pull where you push the ball forward with your right hand and then pull it back with your right hand.


  • -This had to be done 50 times with the ball going no higher than your knee and at game speed. If you mess up you start all over again.


  • -Once you get to 50, then explode with two hard dribbles using an inside out move. This move is done by taking the ball in your right hand and pushing it to the left side of the out of bounds line. It feels awkward at first. The key is to sell that you are going to go left when in reality you are just going to keep going right.


  • -Maintain the line with low dribbles until you reach the corner end-line. Once at the corner immediately use a spin move. This is done by keeping the ball in your right hand and spinning, keeping your hand on top of the ball so as not to get called for carrying the ball. Once you spin, the ball will naturally be in your left hand.


  • -Take two hard dribbles with your left hand and use a step back move. This is done by going forward quickly with the two dribbles and then immediately backing up with two hard dribbles to create space. I call this backing the ball off.


  • -Immediately drive to the basket and finish with a right hand lay-up. Now sprint to the left sideline and do it all left handed.

It seems so easy, but you'll get tired. I will go for 5 times each side without an error before I will quit. If I mess up I'll start again. I am the type that wants to do it right so I need to practice it correctly.


Other drills I love to use are drills that involve two balls. By using two balls you will improve your hand eye coordination and gain confidence. Try these drills wherever you can: Take two balls and dribble them in front of you. Now simply go between your legs one ball at a time. You will notice that you have to switch hands to be able to do this. You can go around the back or between the legs or crossover in front of you.


Key thing here is to remember to keep your head up at all times. No player should do any of these drills with their head watching the ball. This drill is simple enough but you will notice immediate results by practicing this way. When I was young, we had an unfinished basement and I would take the two balls down there and do this for fun.


Lastly, I'll share a drill I used that I still do today when I have an hour to spend on a court. Take the ball and find the nearest wall. Turn sideways and simply pass the ball behind your back at the wall. The trick is to only catch it with one hand and go immediately around your back again. You want to do this with both hands, but I would always start with 50 each hand or simply go until I messed up.


The reason I liked it was because of the instant repetition that it formed. I felt the ball with each pass and my coordination was getting better. It's just a great drill that can help anyone with confidence and getting a feel for ball handling.


If I was going to recommend a video source for this topic then I would have to recommend Pistol Pete's course. I had it when I was younger and I loved it. My father and I would watch those and emulate Pete and I got better because of it. Many of the things I've talked about in this article, you will see on the series.

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