How to Feel Comfortable Dribbling Against Pressure
Being able to dribble against defensive pressure in a game is all about confidence and knowledge. So, how do you build the confidence?
You simply practice. Start by finding the most challenging ball handling drills you can, do them slowly at first, until you get the coordination down, and then do them at full speed, getting faster and faster. It’s okay if you mess up, because you’re supposed to. If you’re not messing up, then you’re probably not going fast enough.
Start with one ball and work on the foundational type drills like pounds, kills, dribbling around one leg, spider, windmills, thru the legs, and killer crossovers. Get a really good feel for dribbling quick and hard. Use proper form and work on building your hand and finger strength. Then, as you get better, grab a second ball.
I love two-ball drills because they are not only challenging, but they also develop both hands at the same time. Grab a couple of balls and once you’ve done some stationary two-ball drills, try moving up and down the court at game speed. Do lots of change of direction, power backs, and change of speed moves. Work on pounding the ball as hard as you can, while you’re moving. And make sure you can run up and down the court at different speeds while handling both balls.
Next, use your imagination and make sure you’re working on moves that will fit into game situations. Use cones, chairs, or anything else you can find as not only obstacles that represent the defense but also as teammates, screens, or places to make hard cuts. Imagine yourself in a game situation (“Where’s the defense?”, “Where’s the help?”, “Where are my teammates?”, “How do I get the ball here?”). Use these types of thoughts as you practice and you will learn to recognize them in games.
Continue to practice these types of things over and over and in time, you will have the confidence and ability to dribble in all types of game situations.
Now, once you have that confidence, take a step back and try to understand what the game is all about. There is a difference between dribbling and ball handling. Ball handling implies effectiveness — like making sure to have a purpose for your dribble. What are you trying to do with your dribble? You should be trying to advance the ball and get it in a good offensive situation. Understand that the defense is trying to prevent you from doing that and probably trying to force you to the sideline and perhaps trying to get you to turn your back to your basket. That right there should tell you that you need to work on keeping the ball in the middle of the court and work hard at protecting the ball while facing the basket.
By understanding the objective of the defense and becoming better at handling two-balls, you will gradually get more and more confidence and you will eventually feel extremely comfortable dribbling the ball under difficult circumstances. And pretty soon, handling against pressure will be a breeze!