Ball Handler Article

Dribbling – Control The Ball, Control The Game! Be a Better Ball Handler

Who are among the most elite ball handlers in NBA history? Erving “Magic” Johnson, John Stockton, Jason Kidd, and “Pistol” Pete Maravich. What do these guys have in common? They understood the universal rule that if you control the ball then you control the game. So how did these superstars rise above the rest? They mastered the art of being a great ball handler!

This fundamental is a crucial part of your game. Used properly it can help you get out of jams on the court, it can get you into position to take a shot or it can help you free up a teammate to receive a pass. The problem is that this secret weapon is misused and abused by today’s ball handlers.

All too often players try to get too flashy and fancy with their “Harlem Globe Trotter”, “Show Time” style of dribbling. Most often this only wrecks the morale and the pace of the game for your teammates. This is why I mentioned the NBA stars that I did. There are tons of players with “skills” and “tricks” up their sleeves, but only a few, like Magic or John Stockton were real ball handlers.

A real ball handler must not only be able to control the ball well, he must also be a great, alert passer who always has his head up and can get the pass off in a fraction of a second. He must have wide vision, see the whole floor and not be looking at the ball. As with anything, if you just master the fundamentals, you could join the elite and become a Real Ball Handler!

The Fundamentals of Super Ball Handlers

1) Stick to the fundamentals, too much “flash” only hurts team play and the morale of your teammates.

2) Don’t be quick to dribble. Look first, dribble last. Pass first whenever possible.

3) Always dribble with a purpose. Whether you’re driving, setting up a play or trying to get free for a shot, never be guilty of receiving a pass and dribbling without a purpose.

4) Don’t pound the ball. Push it away firmly and quickly with your wrist and fingers.

5) Keep the ball close to your body and your head up at all times.

6) Your body should be crouched with your knees bent and your head directly over the midpoint of your two feet.

7) Don’t get caught on the sidelines or the corners. Pivot away from these areas and get the pass away quickly.

8) Always dribble to a spot where you can conclude the dribble with either a good pass or shot. Get rid of the ball quickly, but don’t force it either.

9) Keep the ball on the opposite side of the defender. Keep it low, close to your body, with your forearm almost parallel to the floor and your elbow in close to your body. When in the open court, dribble waist high for speed and push the ball out in front of you.

10) Master change of direction and change of pace as these are valuable skills.

11) Learn to dribble with either hand and master the cross-over dribble. Use your best hand whenever you can.

We all know that shooting is important. Passing is also important to a teams’ success. But being a good ball handler is a pure individual skill that when developed not only builds confidence but will help you develop your other skills more quickly. Thus making you a valuable player to any team.

So, when you’re out on the playground or in your backyard, don’t just focus on your shot. Incorporate some dribbling drills into your shoot around and I guarantee you’ll see your game explode to a whole new level!

– David Huizar


Matt & Dave run and enjoy teaching basketball players and coaches more about the basketball plays, drills, fundamentals and tips that result in individual and team success. For our free report, “5 Keys to Discovering the Successful Coach Inside You”, plus two additional player/coach reports, send a blank email to

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