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Introduction To Ball Handling and Dribbling

  • Date:
    Dec 11, 2015

The following is an excerpt from the USA Basketball Youth Development Guidebook. For more information on the Guidebook, click here.

GENERAL OVERVIEW: Ball-handling and dribbling are of paramount importance. These two skills allow the basketball to be advanced legally throughout the court of play. At the Introductory Level, ball-handling and dribbling take on the most basic form, allowing players to become familiar with the basketball.



• Teach young players to hold the basketball with two hands, one on each side of the basketball.

• Players should spread their fingers, with their thumbs pointed up at waist level.

• Give young players a sense of confidence handling the basketball.


• Slight knee bend. 

• Strong grip on each side of basketball.

• Head up.

• Spread fingers, thumbs up. 




• In this skill, the player will become acquainted with the basketball by moving it from hand to hand, controlling it through all movements.

• It is important to ensure that the player is confident handling the basketball while remaining stationary.

• Once players become consistent with this movement, they can begin to move the basketball with greater speed from hand to hand.

• Have the player create a popping sound with the basketball against the hand as speed increases.


 • Slight knee bend.

• Control of basketball from hand to hand.

• Head up.

• Spread fingers, thumbs up.




Players who have become acquainted with the basketball are able to hold and move the basketball correctly. As soon as this occurs at the Introductory Level, it is important to introduce the concept of proper basketball positioning. This particular position is known as the “triple-threat” stance, which got its name from the idea that when players first receive the basketball, they are a “threat” in three different ways on the court: dribbling, passing, and shooting. Every aspect of basketball, from an offensive standpoint, centers around this stance.

• This skill can be taught as a group where each player has a basketball.

• Following an explanation and demonstration by the coach, players can hold the triple-threat position while coaches make proper adjustments to the stance.



Begin by teaching players how to dribble in a linear path. To make sure players are traveling in a straight line, coaches may use the painted lines on a gymnasium floor.

• Coaches will have players start in a triple-threat position, with the basketball placed at the waist, on the side of the player’s shooting hand.

• Players should begin walking in a straight line while dribbling the basketball with their shooting hand.

• Players will need to adjust their hand positioning so that it is placed slightly behind the top of the basketball to account for the forward motion. If players keep their hands directly on top of the basketball, the basketball will not travel with them. 

• The hand placement will be different based on the speed the player is traveling. Exploration will help players become familiar and comfortable with proper hand placement as they progress.

• Encourage players to dribble with their heads up by having players call out the number of fingers a coach is holding up at the other end of the floor. Further, players should be encouraged to keep the basketball at or below waist level while dribbling.

• The same dribbling concepts taught previously should be reinforced in this drill.



• Controlled dribbling (no slapping).

• Hand placement on basketball.

• Hand pushes through the basketball; downward wrist movement.

• Use both hands equally.

• Dribble no higher than the waist. 

• Head up.



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