With NBA stars today like Chris Paul and Derrick Rose having such an array of ball handling moves and skills it is no wonder why the ability to dribble the basketball is getting more attention today than ever before.
Whether you are a guard or a post player, the ability to handle the basketball is a significant aspect that every basketball player should have in their game. However, because of the increased attention that the "ankle breakers" are receiving many younger players are shying away from the basic skills that are needed in order to handle the ball effectively.
There are many essential moves that one should master when it comes to handling the basketball.
Moves such as a cross-over, between the legs, behind the back and a spin move should all be acquired throughout ones playing career if the athlete desires to play at a high level such as in high school or in college. But perhaps the most important tool that one should learn is not a move at all, but rather a skill.
This skill truly separates the good ball handlers from the great ones. Although it is the single most important skill needed, it is so basic that most coaches mistakenly assume that players already know how to do it and so fail to teach and emphasize it. The skill is simply having the ability to change speeds while dribbling the basketball.
Whether you are an experienced varsity player for your local high school or a parent coaching his child's third grade team, everyone can benefit from this skill. There are three phases to teaching this skill: acceleration, stopping on a dime, and hesitate the re-accelerate.
If one can master this basic skill he or she will then be able to apply these principles to all their other moves and bring up the ball against all sorts of pressure.
1. Acceleration: The objective of the first part of the move is to accelerate to your top speed as quickly as possible while keeping control of your dribble. Obviously with so many different levels of athletic ability this top speed can greatly vary depending on the athlete. In order to gain maximum speed I want you to visualize an Olympic sprinter. If you have ever watched a sprinter you probably noticed how their heels never touch the ground as they are constantly on the balls of their feet. While this may be slightly uncomfortable at first, this one tip will definitely increase your speed. However, to most people's surprise this is the least important phase of the skill.
2. Stopping on a Dime: Depending on one's speed this can be difficult. The laws of physics say that the faster you move the harder it is to stop. Unlike the acceleration phase where one wants to be on their toes, deceleration requires that you contact the floor with your entire foot, usually by planting your heel first. This will decelerate you quickly and bring you literally to a shoe screeching stop.
3. Hesitate and Re-accelerate: The hesitation is the most important aspect of the skill because it is the single factor that separates the good ball handlers from the great ones. The hesitation is going to allow you to create the necessary space to blow by your defender. Here's what happens - You dribble as fast as you can and then suddenly stop on a dime. Since your defender doesn't know exactly when you are going to stop he is not going to stop at the same time and will undoubtedly take an extra step. Once he stops he will want to recover and will very likely come out of his defensive stance and slightly rise up. Now you are going to hesitate long enough to make him think he has a chance to recover and as he shifts his weight and starts to return to you, you are going to accelerate once again and blow right by him.
In teaching the hesitate and re-accelerate phase to our players we use the rule of three. Before accelerating each athlete must count to three before taking off again.
Here is a drill we use in teaching this very important skill and we call it simply the Stop N Go. We like this drill because we can have multiple players working at the same time and they can work on improving both their left and right hands. We have them use their right hand on the way down and left hands on the way back.
Players will line up evenly across the baseline in three or five lines depending on the number of players in the drill.
Each player can have his own ball or you can just give one ball to the player at the front of each line.
by Dave Stricklin