Ball Handling

Control + Protection of the ball

Ball Handling includes dribbling, shooting, rebounding, passing, catching–CONTROL of the ball.  The percentage of players at the HIGH SCHOOL VARSITY level who are capable and competent with ball control under pressure is approximately 5%.  FIVE PERCENT!!  Players who can not control the ball can not compete.


At Basics we are surprised how many players/parents/coaches do not understand this fact.  Trying to compete WITHOUT SOLID BALL HANDLING and BALL CONTROL skills is like to trying to take a physics exam with only a understanding of multiplication and division.  Failure is essentially a foregone conclusion.


BE RELENTLESS ABOUT YOUR SKILL DEVELOPMENT.  Too many players, parents and even coaches CONFUSE COMPETITION with COMPETITIVE GROWTH.    The two are barely related.  Kids who try and compete without sharp skills GET WORSE.  Parents–read that again.  Players without sharp skills GET WORSE.  These kids are done a disservice if they are asked to compete without sharp skills.  3/4 will quit by age 12 or 13.


DECISION MAKERS for these kids basketball choices (you know who you are!!)–if you choose competition, leagues, tournaments, travel etc for these players when their ball handling skills are average of even modestly skilled, their competitive basketball futures are limited at best and probably over in short order.


It is impossible to compete at a higher level without sharp ball handling and ball control skills.  See videos below.


  • Beginning players—Use of both hands with CLEAN CONTROL (see Ball Control video below), teaching “strong with the ball”, dribble “in your pocket” with finger control, Crossover dribble–use the correct hand, quickly push the ball across, keep ball low, protect the ball
  • Intermediate players– Clean catches, Protect the ball ALWAYS, pass off the dribble with strong hand, change of pace dribbles, Spin dribble, Crossover, Ball Quickness, Pass fakes
  • Advanced players–Dribble with a purpose, able to penetrate and protect the ball, avoids defensive deflections, capable shot and pass fakes, rip throughs, strong 2 handed rebounds, GRABBING (and never dribbling) loose balls, capable passing off the dribble with either hand (about 1% can do this)


Basics does NOT SUBSCRIBE to the current model of travel, competition and CONSTANT play as youngsters develop in any sport.  We know that emphasizing skills and school and appropriate adult modeling for these kids MUST COME FIRST.  If you are interested in learning the Basics methodology for your program, your school district or your child, you are encouraged to explore the web site, the Pyramid of Skill, CALL or EMAIL with any questions.  616 402-1600   Thank you


  1. Ball Control Drills
  2. The Cross Over-required.  Only 10% of HS players have a  competitive cross over
  3. The Spin Dribble–aka as the “safety dribble”
  4. Tandem dribbles–CONNECTED
  5. The Mikan Drill-clean catches, capability with EITHER hand
  6. Keep the ball UP when shooting