In the game of basketball, a player needs a set of skills to be able to play it effectively.  These skills would include shooting, rebounding, passing, dribbling, and ball handling.  There are many who interchanges the latter two because they are obviously related with each other.  The thing is, these skills are without doubt separate.  Dribbling can be defined as the bouncing and controlling of the ball using the hand.  Ball handling can be defined the same way too, it’s just that dribbling is a skill that can be practiced alone, while ball handling is a skill that combines dribbling, passing, as well as decision making in the court, and this requires a good knowledge of the game.

Dribbling is a fundamental skill in basketball and if you want to improve your dribbling skills, you need to practice certain basketball dribbling drills.  There are quite a number of dribbling drills that you can practice with to make you a more effective dribbler.  The Maravich Drills, named after the late Pete Maravich, are one of the famous set of drills to help you improve your basketball dribbling and ball handling.

Famous Maravich Drills:

1. Ball Slaps – as you hold the ball on your chest, slap it while you move it from hand to hand.  This kind of warm up will help you have a better feel for the ball.

2. Pinches – hold the ball with your left hand and using all five of your fingers to pinch it towards you right hand.  The ball will then shoot to your right hand.  Do the same using your right hand.  This drill helps to strengthen your wrist.

3. Taps – hold the basketball above your head and have your arms fully stretched out.  Tap the ball back and forth with your fingertips without making it fall or leave your hand.  Once you get better with this drill, try to move your arms up and down and side to side while making sure that the ball follows your hand.

4. Circles – rotate the ball around your head, waist, and each leg.  Attempt this with each of the four areas mentioned and as you get better, try doing them at random with several rotations at a time.  Make sure to do this with your head up to give you a better feel for the ball which will be useful when ball handling.

5. Figure 8 Dribbles – have your feet at shoulder’s width apart and dribble with one hand passing the ball in between the legs and the other hand receiving the ball at the back and carrying it over to the front to pass it again in between the legs and so on so forth.

6. Figure 8 – hold the ball in between the legs (one hand in front and one hand at back), and do the same motion as you did with the figure 8 dribbles, but without the dribble this time, just passing.

7. Drop and Catch – similar to the initial position in figure 8, hold the ball in between the legs, and at burst of speed, shift from holding the ball with right hand in front and left hand at back to right hand at back and left hand in front without allowing the ball to fall to the ground.  Do this in multiple successions starting slowly at first and increasing the rate of change when you get better.

8. One-hand Dribble – make small dribbles using your right hand on your right foot then switching from right hand to left hand to dribble around the left foot.  As you get better, use your right hand to dribble round your left foot and using your left hand to dribble around your right foot.  When doing this drill, make sure that your head is straight and eyes forward to help you get a better feel for the ball as you dribble.

9. Spider Dribble – spread your legs and lower your center, bounce the ball in between your legs and have both your hands dribble from the front and back alternatingly.  As you progress with this skill, have a slightly smaller bounce so the drill becomes inevitably faster.


In order for a player to succeed in becoming a good ball handler, he not only needs to be good at dribbling, but he also needs to have the intent as well as the following sets of manners and characteristics:

  1. When dribbling, make sure to dribble the ball hard because the more time it spends in your hands, the more chance you have of controlling the ball.  Dribbling hard simply helps to ensure that that ball bounces back quickly in your hands.
  2. Never look at the ball when you dribble.  Your head should always be looking forward.
  3. Never use your palm to dribble.  It is recommended that you use your fingertips as this give you better control of the ball.
  4. There are many types of dribbles in your arsenal.  With a good imagination, you can take advantage of this to gain momentum against your defenders.
  5. Too much dribbling is not good.  If you don’t have any intention with the ball, it’s better to just pass and rotate the ball among teammates.
  6. If you can do a move in one dribble, then don’t do it in two.
  7. Experiment and practice outside of your comfort zone.  This will allow you to work on new skills that may become useful to you in real games.  Remember, you will never improve if you only practice the things you are comfortable of doing.
  8. During games, don’t let a little contact throw you off your game.  Maintain your ground and push through and avoid committing any fouls.
  9. Use your eyes to sell fakes.  By looking at the hoop before making a move, you sort of tell your defender that you are going to shoot.  As soon as they adjust their position you are able to make a dribble forward.  On the other hand, if you do intend on shooting, place your eyes downward to project that you want to dribble and make a move.  As soon as you defender readies for your drive, you get to have a small margin for that jump shooter.