Are your handles weak? Is it because you can only dribble with one hand? Lucky you, here’s how to improve off-hand dribbling in basketball.
When I was a kid, first playing basketball, all I could do was dribble with my right hand. It didn’t matter which side of the court I was on (right, left) -I only dribbled with my dominant hand.
I looked like (well, I imagine I looked like) a white player from the 40s or 50s (you know what I’m talking about).
As you can imagine, this isn’t the best way to play. It’s awkward.
And, more importantly, it’s inefficient.
I didn’t realize or learn this until my gym teacher called me out. Or was it some mean kid making fun of me? I can’t recall.
Regardless, I was called out on it and had to make some changes (mainly because my feelings were hurt).
At first, I didn’t know how to practice off-hand dribbling.
I thought I’d have to do some crazy method to learn it, something that was created by evil Russian scientists. I was a naïve little kid, after all.
Luckily for me, however, we worked on this skill in gym class that day.
How to Improve Off-Hand Dribbling
And to my surprise, all we did to train off-hand dribbling was to dribble up and down and all around the basketball court with our non-dominant hand.
We didn’t have to dodge bean bags (is that a thing anymore) or dodgeballs while dribbling at all (although that does sound kinda fun).
We just dribbled until we got comfortable doing it.
This is the same thing NBA legend Bob Cousy did.
He said that when he was young, he would dribble with his left hand by the hour. He didn’t do anything fancy. Just straight up left-hand dribbling.
And once he mastered this fundamental skill, he was able to learn a bunch of other cool things.
“I dribbled by the hour with my left hand when I was young. I didn’t have full control, but I got so I could move the ball back and forth from one hand to the other without breaking the cadence of my dribble. I wasn’t dribbling behind my back or setting up any trick stuff, but I was laying the groundwork for it.”
Off-Hand Dribbling “Drills”
Right now, you’re probably wondering what drills you can do to practice off-hand dribbling.
There aren’t any specific drills I’d recommend. I think just dribbling with it as much as possible is the most effective exercise.
So, that’s what you should do.
I suggest you set aside some time, whether it be during practice or free time, to dribble for 20-30 minutes with your off-hand.
You don’t have to do it straight through, either. You can break it into timed sets.
For example (and I guess this can be a drill for those who want structure), you can dribble in place for 10 minutes as 1 set.
Then you can dribble while walking up and down the block for another 10 minutes.
Then, for the final set, you can do crossover dribbles as you walk up and down the block.
So, the off-hand dribbling drill would look like this:
- Basic single-hand dribbling (10 min.)
- 1-Minute Break
- Weak Hand Dribbling Up and Down the Block (10 min.)
- 1-Minute Break
- Crossover Dribbles Up and Down the Court (10 min.)
Another thing you can do to get comfortable with your off-hand is to dribble when you walk to places.
I remember hearing an NBA player (I’m hazy who it exactly was, but I think it was Allen Iverson) say that he worked on his handles every time his mom sent him out to get milk from the grocery store.
He did this when he walked to his friend’s house too.
He’d bring his basketball along and dribble it as he went places.
He’d find pockets of time to work on his handles. And from his resume (if it was actually him who said this), we can tell it worked.
So that’s what you have to do -you have to dribble with your off-hand as much as possible.
This is the only way you’ll get comfortable with it.
Then once you are, you can start doing other -more complex- dribbling drills and develop flashier handles.
Why It’s Important and a Fundamental Skill
At this point, you may be thinking that off-hand dribbling training is a waste of time. If you are, you’re wrong.
Being able to dribble with your off-hand is an essential basketball skill. Without it, you wouldn’t be able to do the simple crossover, let alone fancier dribbles.
Also, without it, you’d most likely get the ball stolen every time because defenders will sniff out your inability.
They’ll notice your patterns and force you to go to your weak side, which will expose your weak handles.
From there, they’ll most likely get you uncomfortable like a conversation with a pervy uncle and steal the ball from your cusps.
Lastly, you’ll just look goofy on the court if you aren’t able to handle the ball with both hands.
And you don’t wanna look that way, do you?
Ball handling drills can be tedious, but they’re simple.
Just use one of the “drills” I shared and gamify it.
Then, in a few weeks, off-hand dribbling will be as comfortable as something that you’re comfortable doing (you can fill in the blanks here as I don’t know you as well as you know yourself).