Training And Equipment

Tips for Increased Basketball Control



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A number of techniques can be employed to enhance basketball control and handling skills. While it may be assumed this topic focuses solely on dribbling, other facets of the game also require ball control. Let us discuss these before moving to the suggestions for improved dribbling.

Ball control while rebounding is a critical, if sometimes overlooked, phase of the game. It is important for players to develop soft, strong hands; this might seem contradictory, but it is entirely possible and most skilled basketball players possess hands that fit this description. The "soft" refers to the ability to catch the ball easily, whether in midair, running full speed, or among opposition players. The "strong" implies that once a player grasps the basketball, it cannot be successfully slapped, knocked away or stolen by an opponent. One very simple method of improving these skills is something my father used to call "roof ball". Just lob the basketball onto a high slanted surface, usually a roof, and wait for it to slide down and carom off. Before the ball hits the ground, jump in the air and grip it tightly with both hands. After sufficient practice, and assuming a player's hands are large enough, he or she may move up to the "clamp", as it is sometimes known. This involves reaching out with one hand and bringing the ball to the other in a firm grip. The advantage of the clamp is that most players leap quicker and higher with only a single arm outstretched, not to mention the fact the whole motion looks assertive and just a bit menacing, the suggestion being "you ain't gettin' this ball from me."

Another overlooked aspect of ball control is pivoting. Establishing a strong pivot foot and holding the ball away from opponents can mean the difference between a turnover and a basket. When learning to pivot, a player should plant one foot on the floor then hold the ball on the other side of his or her body. A good practice technique is for the player to pivot left, then right, forward, then back in rapid succession. The exercise can be repeated with the opposite pivot foot. The main thing that must be emphasized when learning to pivot is for players not to panic and shuffle their feet, especially when opponents are approaching.

Lastly, there are several ways to improve dribbling skills. Bouncing the ball with closed eyes is an obvious but effective beginning. Walking up or down stairs while dribbling is a more advanced technique. I even knew a guy who could dribble while riding his bicycle; he even taught himself to switch hands! But there are really two ways to become a great dribbler that don't require flashiness or hours of tedious practice. One, take your basketball everywhere you go (within reason). Whenever you go for a walk, take the basketball. If you're going to visit your grandmother and know you'll have a few hours of down time while she's having an afternoon nap, take the basketball. No matter where you go, take it with you. Eventually, it will just be an extension of your own body. Secondly, play ball! Play as often as you can. There is no substitute for the game itself.

More about this author: DM Zwack

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