Shooting the basketball well is how you score points, and passing is the fastest way to advance the ball around the court. However, dribbling is the way you drive the ball to the basket, or create space between yourself and the defense.

Learning to dribble takes strong, flexible hands and a good sense of ball control. Here are five tips to help you learn to dribble a basketball better and add this skill as a dangerous weapon to your offense.

Hand Strength and Flexibility

Strong, flexible fingers and wrists are important for dribbling a basketball better. You need to grip the ball securely to avoid having it ripped from your grasp, but you also need to have flexibility for dribbling and shooting.

Strong yet flexible fingers and wrists will help your shot, but they are critical for improving your dribbling skill. Here are four tips to improve your hand and wrist dexterity.

  • Hand Strength – You can purchase hand grips to improve the strength of your hand and fingers, or use a small ball that fits in the palm of your hand to achieve the same results.
  • Wrist Strength – Basketball players need to be cautious when attempting to build too much wrist strength because you don't want to compromise flexibility. Wrist exercises using high repetitions with very low weight are recommended.
  • Finger Flexibility – Strong fingers aren't the only thing that helps you better control a basketball when dribbling. You should do finger stretching exercises every day, even multiple times each day to keep your fingers flexible.
  • Wrist Flexibility – Same concepts apply to keeping your wrists flexible as well. Stretch your wrists frequently, since this can also help you prevent injuries if you happen to fall to the floor.

Dribbling Equally With Both Hands

Learning to dribble with both hands is critical. Developing the ability to dribble well with both hands takes hours of practice.

You should dedicate slightly more time to working on your off hand if it's giving you trouble. Begin by working on stationary dribbling drills, then practice advancing the ball slowly.

You should work on drills that help you change from one hand to the other without losing control. Players have gone so far as to pick a particular practice where you never dribble with your primary hand during the entire practice.

This will limit your options, but focusing on your weaker dribbling hand is critical to improving your game. Being able to dribble equally well with both hands will expand your offensive game and prevent defenders from forcing you to dribble with your weaker hand.

Dribbling Under Control

Even the most precise dribble isn't much of an advantage if you cannot maintain control of the ball while you're moving. Dribbling under control is similar to dribbling with both hands.

The skill takes hours of dedicated practice. You need to begin slowly, working on keeping the ball within the framework of your shoulders and below your waist.

When you allow your dribble to get too high off the court, or too far away from your body, you make it easier to steal. Practice dribbling first in a straight line, then use zigzag patterns.

As you begin to feel more comfortable dribbling under control, include some high-speed full court dribbling. Dribbling full-speed up the court is when most players begin to have problems staying under control.

By frequently practicing full court dribbling at full speed, you'll be comfortable when the game speed increases. Work on dribbling at full speed, but pay close attention to staying in control of the ball.

Changing Direction

Dribbling with both hands with equal adeptness and keeping your dribble under control are the two skills you should master first. Next, you need to be able to change direction quickly.

Since you have developed both hands equally, you will soon find yourself the master of the crossover dribble. This is the move that the best players use to cross up defenders.

Changing direction starts with a little simpler approach. Work on dribbling through cones in a zigzag pattern to become more comfortable changing direction while maintaining good ball control.

Learn the Tricks

There was a time when dribbling between your legs or behind your back was thought to mean you were a showoff. Today, the best players in the world change direction and befuddle defenders by using tricks that were once reserved for the Harlem Globetrotters.

The finest players in the world will now turn players completely around backwards with a devastating between the legs crossover dribble. Add behind the back change of direction moves to your full court speed drills.

Learn to rotate between your legs when you're navigating your way through a zigzag maze of cones. Add some difficult trick dribbling skills to every pregame warm up to help add these skills to your offensive arsenal.

No matter which position you play on the basketball court—center, forward or guard—improving your dribbling makes you a better teammate. Use these tips to not only improve your basketball dribbling skills, but add a serious weapon to your offensive arsenal.

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