The Ultimate Guide to Dribbling for Beginners
Photo by Production Team

The Ultimate Guide to Dribbling for Beginners

By Kaitlyn Fedor

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There are essentially two ways to move the basketball around the court. The first way is to pass to teammates and the second way is to dribble. Defensive players try to limit passing lanes in an attempt to steal the ball. Often, the only way to advance the ball is to dribble.

You also need to be able to dribble well to create space between you and a defender so you can put up a clean shot. For this reason, the art of dribbling a basketball is a critical skill for beginners to learn. Here are three essential dribbling skills every basketball player must master.

Head Up

Coaches will rave about how important it is to develop your visual court awareness. Looking around at the action off the ball isn't nearly as challenging as seeing the action develop while you're dribbling.

Step #1 in becoming a good dribbler is to work on not watching the ball. When you can dribble with your head up, you will be fully aware of everything developing around you. You'll see defenders ready to double team you, plus you'll spot open players on your own team for easy baskets. If you're a young player, you can work on this skill by dribbling in place at first. The next step to increase the difficulty is by dribbling through cones while moving faster as you become more comfortable.

Under Control

Step #2 is that you need to maintain control of the ball when you're dribbling. This is fairly simple when you're bouncing the ball in one place or moving slowly. Keeping the ball under control at full speed presents is considerably more challenging. Since the game of basketball is often played at full speed, you need to develop the ability to dribble the ball under control while on the run.

When the ball is bouncing too high, it is harder to control and easier for a defender to steal. Also, failing to keep the ball within the parameters of your body makes it easier to steal or change direction. This skill can be mastered by using similar drills to those that help you to stop looking at the ball when dribbling. Dribbling skills are perfected by practice. Full court speed dribbling and change of direction drills are excellent for teaching you to keep the ball under control.

Both Hands Equally

Step #3 for mastering the skill of dribbling a basketball is being able to use both hands with equal efficiency. While players may always dribble slightly better with their primary hand, you need to competently handle the ball with both hands.

Players who cannot dribble with their off-hand can be controlled by the defense. For instance, if you're right-handed, and your defender notices you're uncomfortable dribbling to your left, this is the direction they will force you to go. Defenders will force you towards your weak side and you will not be able to efficiently take advantage of openings to drive with the ball using your weaker hand. Dribbling with both hands equally is essential to expanding your offensive potential in basketball training.

Dribbling is a basketball skill that is as important as being a good shooter. It is the only way to move with the basketball other than throwing a pass to a teammate. You can generate space between yourself and a defender or drive to the basket.

You need to be able to dribble the ball with your head up, keep the ball under control, and dribble with both hands equally. Check out instructional basketball training camps and videos available for ball control drills to help you improve your dribbling skills.