menu close twitter facebook snapchat instagram youtube article basketball gallery graph left-arrow right-arrow search star trophy video net clipboard shield-check shield-star stopwatch filter reset

Youth Development

USA Basketball Youth Event Schedule
Jul 15, 2020 12:00 AM est
2020 U.S. Open Basketball Championships
Westfield, Indiana

Youth Shop


Shop Now USA Basketball
Coaches Corner: Ball-Handling

Coaches Corner: Ball-Handling Techniques

  • Date:
    Feb 3, 2020

Dribbling, or ball-handling, is a fundamental skill for every basketball player, and it is a skill that should be regularly worked on regardless of age and ability. Below are some tips and drills to help improve ball-handling skills.


  • Spread the fingers wide and make your hand as big as possible. This gives you more coverage and control on the basketball. It also allows your finger pads to maintain contact with the ball and keeps the ball out of the palm of your hand.
  • Dribble the ball as hard as possible. The longer the ball is in the air, the more exposed it is to the defender. By dribbling the ball hard, it stays in your hand longer and gives you more control.
  • Protect the ball at all times. Keep your free arm in an "arm bar" position; with your elbow bent and your forearm flexed and in front of the ball. Many defenders will not attempt to steal the ball or try to disrupt your dribble if you are protecting the ball. If the defender does attempt to disrupt your dribble while you are protecting it, the defender has no access to the basketball and will get out of position when trying to get a steal or deflection. Also, the defender might pick up a cheap foul trying to come through your arm bar.
  • Keep your eyes up and see the floor. This gives you opportunities to see double teams coming and time to make the quick pass to avoid traps. You will see open teammates and be able to get them the ball at the appropriate time. This also allows you to fake out defenders with your eyes, which can freeze help-side defenders and allow you a clearer path to the basket on dribble penetration.


  • Basketball players should work to be able to perform the skills well in both directions and without looking at the ball.

Hesitation Dribble:


Change directions by pushing off with the "outside" foot and dribbling the ball low and hard with the corresponding hand over to the opposite dribbling hand.

Spin Move: Change directions by reverse-pivoting off of the "inside" foot. The quickest way to do this is to start the pivot when the "inside" foot is forward. That way, the "outside" foot already is moving in the new direction. As you reverse pivot, pull the ball with your dribbling hand over into position to be dribbled by your other hand. The more you can get the ball pulled over toward that hand and protected by your body, the less chance there will be for a defender to interfere.

The spin move has the disadvantage of being more vulnerable to blind double teams than other change-of-direction techniques, but it can be an effective weapon when used with adequate court vision.

Behind-the-Back: Footwork is critical here. The behind-the-back dribble begins as the outside leg is back and just beginning to move forward, and the ball needs to be dribbled all the way over to the opposite hand. The key to an effective behind-the-back dribble is to continue moving forward rather than just dribbling sideways. For this to happen, the arms and legs need to be coordinated so that the ball can get to where it needs to go. This is an advanced skill.

Between-the-Legs: Change directions by dribbling the ball between your legs to your other hand. There are two ways to do this:

  • You dribble the ball backwards between your legs while your inside leg is forward. This move will create some space for you to change directions, but it will slow you down a step or two, too. This is by far the most common form of dribbling between your legs.
  • You dribble the ball forward between your legs while your outside leg is forward. You will push off that same leg in the new direction. The ball is momentarily exposed in this technique, so it is best used when you have a good cushion from the defender. With this technique, you don't lose forward momentum. Though it has limited applications, this move does allow for an element of surprise.

Between-the-Legs Followed by Behind-the-Back: This is a combo technique that ends up with you going in the same direction after a momentary decoy move. First, you perform the 'inside leg forward' version of the between-the-legs dribble; as soon as the ball reaches your other hand, you immediately use that hand to dribble behind your back over to your initial dribbling hand. It's a good change-of-pace technique.


Red Light, Green Light:

Dribble Tag:



Related Videos

Gold-medal winning USA Basketball coach Don Showalter lays out the most important things for a baseline out of bounds play.

Gold-medal winning USA Basketball coach Don Showalter lays out the most important things to remember when speaking to your team during a timeout.

Gold-medal winning USA Basketball coach Don Showalter lays out the most important things to remember when speaking to your team after a game.

Gold-medal winning USA Basketball coach Don Showalter lays out the most important things to remember when speaking to your team before a game.

Level: Foundational | Skill: Ball Handling & Dribbling

Related Content

  • Author:
    Sofia M. Lucero
  • Date:
    May 28, 2020

Union University head women's basketball coach, Mark Campbell , served as head coach of the 2019 USA Women's U16 National Team that posted a 6-0 record and captured the gold medal at the FIBA Americas U16 Championship. In recognition of his leadership in 2019, Campbell was named as a co-recipient...

  • Author:
    Sofia M. Lucero
  • Date:
    May 21, 2020

Cheryl Reeve , who has been a USA Basketball Women's National Team assistant coach for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team and the past two USA World Cup Teams, each of which won gold, will continue in that role through the Tokyo Olympic Games next summer. This past September, Reeve served as an assistant...

  • Author:
    Sofia M. Lucero
  • Date:
    May 14, 2020

Steve Kerr , who has won three NBA championships as head coach of the Golden State Warriors and won five NBA titles as a player, has an extensive background with USA Basketball both on the court and on the sidelines. His career with USA Basketball started as a player on the 1986 USA World...

Five techniques that you can apply to become a more effective leader.

USA Basketball spoke to Cori Close to gain some insight and perspective on coaching.

Coach Licensing & Organization Accreditation Login

Forgot Password?