Master the Basketball Dribbling Fundamentals and Leave ‘Em Gasping for Air

Get a grasp on correct basketball dribbling fundamentals and techniques!

Doing so will determine your success at any level.

basketball dribbling
On this page, you’ll find the different basketball dribbling types and the proper fundamentals to learn for each one. If you need help with this, settle in for a ball handling buffet!

Many inexperienced players waste their dribble by dribbling right after catching a pass. They also tend to over-dribble and not gain any advantage over the defender. Besides learning the basketball dribbling fundamentals, it’s important to learn to dribble with a purpose.

Reasons to dribble:

1) Advance the ball up the court

2) Penetrate to the hoop

3) Find good passing lanes

4) Get out of trouble

Some basic ball handling guidelines:

1) Dribble with a purpose

2) Keep your head up

3) Use the hand farthest from the defender to dribble with

4) Don’t pick the dribble up unless you have a pass or shot available

5) Don’t dribble into trouble (between 2 defenders or into the corners)

On with the basketball dribbling fundamentals!

By the way, would you like to learn how to dramatically increase your focus on applying these basketball dribbling fundamentals without ingesting a pill or drink?


Basketball Dribbling Fundamentals

1) Basic Technique

Cup your dribbling hand with your fingers spread comfortably with the dribble being a push-pull motion of your arm, wrist and fingers. You’ll initiate the dribble with an elbow extension and flexion of your fingers and wrist. As the ball bounces back up, meet it with your fingers, with your wrist absorbing the force. Control the ball with your fingers and pads of your hands, not the palms. Keep your non-dribbling hand up for protection.

Control is the key. Practice dribbling with your hand the following areas of the ball: directly on top, in front, behind, right side and left side.

2) Control, or Low Dribble

Use this when you’re closely guarded. Keep your body between the ball and the defender. Dribble the ball at knee level or lower and slightly away from your body so it’s harder for the defender to knock it away. Advance the ball with a step and slide movement. Keep your free hand up to protect the ball while keeping you dribbling arm close to your body. If you keep you head up and eyes off the ball, you’ll be able to spot open teammates or openings for you.

3) Speed, or High Dribble

Use this type of basketball dribbling when you need to advance the ball quickly: quick drives to the basket, fast breaks or following a steal in the open court. Keep your body nearly erect, leaning forward slightly. Extend your dribbling arm fully, pushing the ball out in front of your body. Keep the ball near waist level or higher to help maintain maximum speed. Be sure to develop your confidence in doing this technique without looking at the ball and dribbling well with either hand. Once this fundamental is mastered, getting up and down the court quickly will be a breeze.

4) Crossover Dribble

This technique is good to use when you’re being overplayed. It helps you change direction quickly. When your foot on the dribbling side contacts the floor, push off hard toward your opposite foot and bounce the ball across your body with a quick flick of your wrist and fingers (flick the ball with your dribbling hand by pushing from slightly outside the ball). The lower you bounce the ball, the quicker your crossover. Take a step with the foot on the receiving side as your receiving hand gets the ball on a short hop. Quickness is extremely important with this basketball dribbling fundamental. A good advantage is you always maintain visual contact with the game action. The disadvantage is it’s easy to expose the ball to your defender if you’re not careful.

5) Spin, or Reverse Dribble

Another change of direction technique. It’s good if the crossover isn’t available because you’re guarded too closely. Advantage: You keep your body between the defender and the ball. Disadvantage: You lose sight for a moment of your teammates and the basket. If you’re dribbling right and need to go left – stop, plant your left foot and pivot on it as you spin in the opposite direction with your back to the defender. Keep the ball close to your body as you spin and switch it to your left hand. As you complete the turn, dribble with your left hand and keep your head up to see the floor.

6) Change-of-Pace

The idea here is to make your defender think you are slowing down and then, as they relax, you speed right by them. As you slow down, straighten slightly, plant your lead foot and bring your head up a bit. This creates the illusion that you are about to stop and your defender will relax. Then accelerate quickly and use a low dribble to get by the defender. Practice this going from slow to fast and back to slow again. It’s very difficult to defend once you perfect it!

7) Behind-the-Back

Another way to change direction and you’ll always maintain visual contact with game action with this basketball dribbling fundamental. If you’re dribbling with your right hand, slide your hand to the outside of the ball as you put your weight on your right foot. Flick the ball behind your back above the back of your knee and across the back of your thigh as you move your left foot forward. Catch the ball with your left hand and continue dribbling. Make sure to get your left leg forward so the ball has room to come under your left hand for a smooth transition.

8) Pull-Back Dribble

This will give you space you’re double-teamed or the defender tries to run and jump at you. Retreat two steps back as you use the control dribble. Use a step-slide movement by pushing off your front foot and sliding back with your rear foot. As always, keep your head up and keep dribbling until you can pass it off.

9) Between-the-Legs Dribble

basketball dribbling
This works well when you’re being overplayed. If you’re dribbling with your right hand, keep the ball low and switch it to your left hand. Bounce the ball through your legs with a quick flick of your wrist, fingers and lower arm.

Check out our ball handling tips section.


Rewards For Mastering Your Basketball Dribbling Fundamentals

As you master all the different basketball dribbling fundamentals, you’ll find it easier and easier to penetrate the defense. This means you’ll be able to get past your defender, finish the play and help lead your team to victory more and more!

If you’re going to penetrate, you must move your defender out of the driving lane (that imaginary line between you and the basket). Using fakes can help you do this. Fakes like foot fakes, head fakes or ball fakes can all be effective in moving your defenders out of your way.

Another way to get a driving lane is by using any of the dribbling moves you learned earlier on this page.

Once you are past your defender, you must read the defense and finish the play properly. There are basically three ways to finish the play:

1) If the driving lane is open all the way, drive in for the lay-up.

2) If a defender on one of your perimeter teammates comes in to stop you, pass to your now open teammate for the jumper.

3) If a post defender steps up to block you, pass inside to your open post teammate.

Don’t forget to check out our ball handling drills section.