Dribbling a basketball is the most basic skill in the game. Some players dribble more than others, but the fact remains that every good basketball player knows how to use the dribble to accentuate his or her skill set. Big players use the dribble to set up their post moves on the low block; point guards bring the ball up court and set up pick and rolls to get their teammates open shots; and wing players use the dribble to improve their shooting/passing angle or drive to the rim.
Here are three pieces of advice to think about as you learn how to dribble a basketball.
1. Put Energy into the Ball
The easiest way to control the basketball when you’re dribbling is to use your forearm and fingertips to put energy into the ball as you push it toward the floor.
When you use a soft dribble, you can lose the ball because it takes longer to come back into your hand. You can also lose control when defenders try to steal the ball and your evasive movements aren’t quick enough. One of the most dynamic dribblers in the NBA is Chris Paul. He dribbles the ball with an energy that allows him to keep control of the ball in tight spaces and avoid pesky defenders.
2. Keep Your Eyes Up
The tendency for anyone learning how to dribble a basketball is to focus his or her eyes on the court so they can watch the basketball hit the floor and bounce back to them. This common mistake comes from a lack of comfort with the ball in their hands.
All dribbling drills should be practiced with your eyes up on the court in front of you. This is especially important for two reasons. First,you are able to see the entire court and will more easily spot an open teammate or a scoring opportunity for yourself. Second, you will turn the ball over less often because you’ll be able to see defenders coming to double-team you.
3. Dribble with Your Fingertips
If you can dribble the basketball with the pads of your fingers instead of the palm of your hand, you’ll gain much more control of the ball. Dribbling with your palm is slow and clunky, and won’t allow you to make necessary adjustments in the midst of a full-speed game. Avoid slapping at the ball and focus instead on using your fingertips to push the ball toward the floor and back into your hand.