Basketball Drills: 5 Ball-Handling Fundamentals

Learning to master each skill in basketball takes time, practice, and patience. Ball handling is one skill that takes a ton of effort to master. Basketball is an evolving sport, so it's a skill that even the best players in the world must continue to work on. When you become excellent at it, the game will open up and become easier for you.

Ball handling fundamentals are extremely important and learning the correct way early on will eliminate future issues for yourself. Its important to remember that it's alright to make mistakes, especially when you are trying to new things or new basketball drills. 

ball handling

1. Athletic Stance

Staying low in an athletic stance is the first step in becoming an excellent ball-handler. Keeping your feet wide, knees bent, butt down and head up will help improve your balance, explosiveness, and awareness. Oftentimes, players stand up straight when dribbling the basketball. This wont help strengthen muscles you will use during actual competitive play and will make you unsuccessful when attempting to blow past your opponent or even maintaining your dribble. Much like any basketball drills, staying low and in an athletic stance is essential for improvement.

2. Eyes up

It's important to see teammates, opponents, and the hoop while dribbling. You will more then likely be limited as a player if you don't. Dribbling with your eyes up will give your brain more time to analyze the situation you are in on the court. For example, if a teammate is cutting to the hoop, there is a small window of opportunity to make a successful pass. If your eyes are down, you will more than likely miss this opportunity. A great way to practice dribbling with your eyes up is to have a partner hold a number of fingers up and change the amount while you yell the number out as it changes. If you miss a number or multiple numbers, then add the numbers up and do push-ups, sit-ups in that amount. 

3. Elbows in, hand on top of basketball using fingerpads

Maintaining control of the basketball at all times is very important, especially when you start playing  in competitive games. Keeping your elbows in tight and hand on top will allow you to keep the trajectory of the basketball correct. There will be no added spin or curve to the ball which often times causes a player to lose control. Placing your fingers on the basketball properly and using your wrist will also help you direct the ball in the direction you are going.

4. Ball and foot

Make sure players know to use proper footwork when dribbling the basketball. Proper footwork will lead to better shooting, passing and overall explosion. When using your cross-over, between the legs, and behind the back moves, make sure to always lead with the foot in the direction you are heading. This will help with exploding past your defender, staying balanced and will keep you from stepping backwards. Also make sure to push off your back foot which will help with quickness and proper form.

ball handling exhausted

5. Get out of your comfort zone

Make sure to push yourself beyond your limits. Even if you believe you have mastered a simple ball-handling move, push yourself harder until you make a mistake. If you get out of your comfort zone and go hard in practice, it will make the games that much easier and will ultimately take your game to the next level. This is true with any of the basketball drills that you do. Always push yourself and become comfortable being uncomfortable. 



Nobody woke up one day and became a great ball handler. Through purposeful training and utilizing the fundamental tips above, anyone can improve their dribbling skills.  There is no subsitute for hard work!

Did you know that you can work on ball-handling drills with our Dr. Dish All-Star machine? Check out more below:

The Versatility of the Dr. Dish All-Star


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