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Basketball Dribbling and Ball-handling

In a basketball game, who gets the most "ooo..."s and "ahh.."s from the audience?  It is usually the guards ball-handling past the defender!  The Answer, The Flash, Stevy Franchise, and, Mr. Crossover get lots of those scoring a basket after ball-handling and faking their defenders totally out of position (you wonder what is totally out of position?  Well, falling flat on the ground looking totally dumb like below is.)

The flash makes his defender show us how to be totally out of position

Basketball dribbling allows you to move on the basketball court while in possession of the basketball.  There are numerous descriptions of various basketball dribbling moves below.  Once mastered, each move can become a powerful weapon.  When you know all the moves and use them in a mix-n-match fashion, it allows you to:

The page is designed to point out details and secrets in basketball dribbling that can greatly increase your ball-handling ability.  It also has an in-depth guide section on different basketball dribbling moves.

Fundamental Ball-Handling

Here are the tips of basic basketball dribbling.  Don't take these lightly.  If you get these perfectly correct in the beginning, you will have a much easier time improving your dribbling.  Learn to walk perfectly before you run.  The goal of these tips is to maintain a stable dribble and wait for opportunities.  They are not aiming for dribbling past the defender yet.

Always dribble on the side

  • Use your finger tips to dribble, never the palm

  • Dribble on the side of your body, never bounce the ball in front repeatedly

  • Get used to bouncing the ball hard off the ground

  • Lower your body slightly so that the ball is bouncing rapidly at waist level

  • Look up when you are dribbling, not on the ground or on the ball

  • When switching the ball from one hand to another, bounce the ball across hard and quick

  • When changing direction, shift the momentum of your body towards that direction

Finger tips gives you more control over the basketball.  Dribbling on the side minimizes the possibility of getting your ball stolen.  When situation allows, you can even use your back to shield the ball from your opponent.  This is called post-up and it is described in the basketball dribbling moves section below.  Bouncing the ball hard off the ground and lowering your body together allows you to greatly reduce the time the ball is out of your control.   Looking up while dribbling gives you the vision of the court and your defender while you dribble.

Advanced Ball-Handling

For advanced players, there are many things you need to keep in mind. First, dribbling becomes more of a physical-plus-mental thing, because you need to calculate how much spin and how hard you are dribbling and where the ball is landing in good hand-eye-leg coordination.  You need to frequently shift your momentum to different directions to get your defender on his toes while executing a fake and anticipating how the defender will react to your actions. 

When you dribble from one hand to the other, do not try to deflect the ball away to the other hand, try absorbing the force instead and you will have a better control. The ability to add spin the ball gives you greater maneuverability. But if you wait until the ball rests completely in your hand, you will delay your dribble.  So striking the balance between speed and control is very important.  One of the biggest differences between good ball-handlers and excellent ball-handlers are their different timings in applying force onto the basketball.

Also, to be a good ball-handler, you need to have good shooting ability, which gives you more room to maneuver the ball because the defender will have to defend the air too.

Here are some important things you should bear in mind in advanced basketball dribbling:Tim Hardaway using his shoulder to withstand the defender's pressure

  • Your vision - It often gives your intentions away and your defender knows it.  However, you can actually use this against the d.  Look at the defender naturally and occasionally scan for open players.  Then, look at the side opposite to your target lane when you are about to burst.  The eye fake is a very powerful weapon.

  • Your shoulder - Shake your shoulder and arm towards the side opposite to your target lane.  The shoulder fake is used against defenders that do not buy the eye fake.  Also, when you are dribbling, cling your shoulder and your upper arm close to your defender's body and as low as possible so that you can retain your own position.

  • Your non-dribbling hand - Without pushing away your defender's hand, try to position your non-dribbling so that it is in the way of your defender's hand when your defender attempts a steal.

  • The rhythm of the dribble - keep a constant rhythm in your dribble right until you are about to dribble past your opponent.  The change of rhythm can get your opponent slightly off-balance, also.  Use this to your advantage.

  • The hangtime of the ball - After the ball bounces off the floor, the ball will have some hangtime in the air.  You should use this hangtime well to execute eye and shoulder fakes or delay the following bounce to freeze your defender. 

Basketball Dribbling Moves

Mastering the fundamentals of basketball dribbling alone cannot allow you to breeze through defenders.  You need basketball dribbling moves to get your defenders to expose a weak point that you can attack.  Here are the frequently used basketball dribbling moves in contemporary basketball.


Inter-leg Cross-over

Double Cross-over


Spin Move

Fake Spin



Post-up Dribble

These moves are just the ingredients.  After mastering all each of these basketball dribbling moves, you should use it in a mix-n-match manner.  For instance, stop-n-go then pull-back to perform a jump shot.  It is not a single move, but a combination of different moves, that beats a defender to a pulp.

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