Dr. Hal Wissel has been ruling the NBA and collegiate hardwood for decades. He held several assistant coaching positions in the NBA, and as a college coach, he racked up more than 300 victories and led Florida Southern College to the 1981 NCAA Division II Championship. More recently, Wissel founded Basketball World, a company that hosts camps and provides players at all levels with tools to improve. He joined the Golden State Warriors as an assistant coach for player development this past season.
You might have a great crossover and drive to the right, but Wissel thinks your skill is useless unless you can also pull it off with your left. “The ability to dribble with your strong and weak hand is key to advancing your level of play,” Wissel says. “If you only dribble well with your strong hand, you can be overplayed to that side—making you virtually ineffective.”
According to Wissel, the best way to improve your ball-moving skills is to dribble—over and over and over again. He thinks dribbling should become entirely automatic—no thinking required—because “then you can devote full attention to the various actions and situations taking place on the court. You can master dribbling by yourself; all you need is a ball and a flat surface.”
Although sick handling skills entertain, Wissel warns: “Excessive dribbling can destroy teamwork and morale. Your teammates stop moving, making them easier to defend. Dribbling is the most misused fundamental in basketball; you need to know when to use it. It should always have a purpose; it should take you somewhere. Immediately bouncing the ball when you receive a pass is a bad habit.”
Perform 1 set of 10 reps on each side, unless otherwise noted.
In a balanced stance, dribble the ball from one hand to the other. Keep it below knee level and no wider than knee width. Keep your non-dribbling hand up, and change the position of your feet and body to protect the ball, like a defender is guarding you.
Dribble the ball through your legs from back to front, switching hands once it’s through your legs. Change the direction of the dribble, from front to back.
Kneel on one knee with your other leg bent in front. Starting in front of bent knee, dribble around to one side and under your knee. Change hands and dribble behind your back leg. Change hands again and continue back to your starting point. Complete 10 reps; repeat in opposite direction for another 10.
Sitting down, dribble the ball on one side for 10 reps. Raise your legs and dribble the ball under them to the other hand. Dribble on that side for 10 reps.
Lying on your back, dribble on one side for 10 reps. Sit up, raise your legs and dribble the ball under them to the other hand. Lie back down and dribble for 10 reps on that side.
For more of Coach Wissel’s coaching tips and knowledge, check out his book, Basketball: Steps to Success [Human Kinetics], available at www.basketballworld.com.