Basketball Dribbling Drills with Erica Wheeler
Ready to dial in your dribble? Practice these basketball dribbling drills with Erica Wheeler and learn to move the ball across the court like a pro.
For WNBA pro baller Erica Wheeler, agility is a key element to her basketball game. As a point guard for the L.A. Sparks, Wheeler needs more than strength and heart — she needs precision and speed in every move she makes.
While she’s known as one of the league’s top ball-handlers, Wheeler still dedicates herself to improving every time she plays: “With practice you give yourself muscle memory. Your body knows what it's going to do before you even tell it to do it, because you've been doing it so long. So now you just have to react. Train your mind and react.”
For players from pro to youth, basketball dribbling drills can improve your reaction time and coordination when the ball is in your control, helping you keep it out of the other team’s hands so you can make your play. Plus, they’re fun!
Video: Five Moves to Improve Your Basketball Dribbling Skills
To complete this series of drills, you’ll need two basketballs. “When dribbling with one ball becomes too easy, I like to throw in a second basketball to distract and stimulate the brain,” explains trainer Ashley Corral. Since retiring from her pro-ball career, Corral has trained players of every age and skill level. “Adding a second basketball to your routine can take your hand-eye coordination and ball handling ability to a whole new level.”
Ready to polish your dribbling technique? Here are step-by-step instructions for five killer dribbling drills:
1. TWO-BALL JUGGLE
Game play goals: When you’re comfortable dribbling two balls, you can be even more agile with just one basketball. Practice this move if you’re just getting started with two-ball drills.
- Start by standing on the baseline in an athletic stance — with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart — holding both basketballs. Your eyes should be looking down and forward.
- Dribble the basketballs in one direction in a circular motion — a bit like juggling — with speed and force for 25 reps, remaining stationary.
- Repeat this dribble for 25 more reps while moving to half court and back to the baseline, switching directions of your circular dribble on the way back.
How many: 25 reps in place then 25 reps in motion
2. CROSS-BODY POCKET PULL
Game play goals: When a defender is on your side, they can easily take the ball if you’re dribbling in front of your body. In this drill, you’ll practice keeping the ball at the opposite hip to a defender, while changing pace and direction as quickly as you can.
- Stand on the baseline in that same athletic stance — feet wider apart than your shoulders — with one ball in your hand.
- With force and intensity, dribble across your body and pull the basketball as far towards your back pocket as you can, coming to a sudden stop.
- Repeat this cross-body pull move for 25 reps on each side — that’s 50 reps total.
- Do another 25 reps on each side, this time pulling the ball all the way back and dribbling it behind you.
How many: 2 sets of 25 reps on each side
3. CROSS-BODY POCKET PULL INTO DOWNHILL ATTACK
Game play goals: This drill hones your ability to change pace rapidly, going from a sprint right into a stop. This can help you keep the ball away from your opponent when you’re attacking downhill.
- Stand at the top the key in your athletic stance, with one ball in your hands and the other on the ground. Focus your eyes downhill and forward as much as you can.
- Repeat the cross-body pocket pull you did in the previous drill, then attack downhill and come to a hard stop.
- Dribble back to your starting place and repeat the move to attack towards the opposite side.
How many: 10 reps in each direction
4. CROSS BETWEEN-BEHIND
Game play goals: No matter which position you play, you need to be able to confidently handle the ball across the whole court, changing the direction of your dribble in a split second without slowing down your play. This move improves your speed, coordination and muscle memory for those moments.
- Stand at the baseline in an athletic stance, holding the ball and focusing your eyes downhill and forward.
- As hard and fast as you can, dribble the ball in front of you across your body, between your legs, and then behind you, remaining in one place.
- Stop suddenly and repeat this dribble — across, between your legs, and then behind you — in the opposite direction.
- Repeat the drill while moving across the court instead of staying in place.
How many: 25 reps stationary, then 25 reps as you move full-court to the opposite baseline
5. TWO-BALL FINISHER
Game play goals: This drill trains your focus and your precision at the end of a tough practice. Game-making points often come in the fourth quarter, when you’re close to exhaustion. Practice this move to stay nimble and alert in those crucial final moments.
Keep your movements forceful for this one: dribble hard! Push yourself and try to get more reps each time you do this.
- Stand on the baseline in an athletic stance, holding a basketball in each hand and looking downhill and forward.
- Do each of the following moves for 15 seconds each, dribbling as fast and forcefully as you can:
- Hip pounds: Dribble both balls simultaneously, keeping them close to each hip.
- Alternation hip pounds: Again, dribble the balls close to your hips, this time alternating each ball.
- Sways: Dribble both balls simultaneously in alternate directions, so they appear to sway from one side to the other.
- At-each-other sways: Dribble both balls simultaneously in front of you, alternating towards each other and then away from each other.
- Yo-yos: Dribble both balls simultaneously at each side, forwards and backwards.
- Alternating yo-yos: Dribble the balls at each side in alternate directions, one forwards when the other is backwards.
- High-lows: Dribble one ball high towards your shoulder while dribbling the other one fast and low to the ground.
- Opposite high-lows: Repeat the previous drill with the high ball and the low ball on opposite sides.
How many: 8 drills for 15 seconds each — 2 minutes total
Focus In to Win: A Pro Baller’s Tips
Whether you want to dribble like a pro, build strength for basketball, or sink more baskets, Wheeler suggests that the key to unlocking your greatness is to focus on the ball and let go of distractions.
“The advice I'd give to anybody that's trying to really lock in and be a basketball player is to use this ball,” says Wheeler. By putting all your focus on the ball and how you’re handling it, you can block out worry and hesitation to make your perfect play: “When you fully lock in and want to be better and want to be great, this ball can really do that for you.”
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