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Ball Handling Moves Tips

Read these 11 Ball Handling Moves Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Basketball tips and hundreds of other topics.

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Spin Move - Back to the Basket

This is a great move against body-to-body contact, or if a defender is playing overly aggressive defense on you while your dribbling the ball. It is a very difficult move to master, but once you do, it will open your game up to all kinds of possibilities, believe me. With the spin move I usually invite body contact with the defender. I WANT the contact for two reasons: 1) I want the defender to get comfortable. Sometimes I bump him twice, so it seems almost rythmic. 2) I also want to use the defender's own body as a PIVOT POINT. A pivot point is simply a point of contact that you spin off of.

Here's a breakdown of the move spinning to the right: Your head is looking over your left shoulder, surveying the court. When you actually make the move, you will make an inward head-fake before quickly spinning the opposite direction. The ball is being dribbled with your right hand as you survey. As you make the head fake to the left, you will also make a hard dribble inwards, making the defender think the opposite. As the ball makes it's way up off the floor, that's when the spin occurs, so your left hand will recieve it as the spin happens. The footwork is again, the most important aspect of the move and also the most difficult, but be patient, it will be worth it. The key is to "slip" your back foot(right foot in this case) around the defender's base. Notice how I said "slip". You wanna sneak the right foot back in a sweeping motion, getting the foot as far back around the defender as you can. This is the secret to this move. Your right foot, now on the outside of the defender, is going to be your pivot foot. Placing your foot back here allows for proper spin balance and also allows you to get around the defender easier after the spin is complete(because the pivot foot is now on the outside of the defender). The left foot is again going to be your explosion point for the move. As you duck inward(to the left), your left foot should explode the opposite away, pushing you toward the right, spinning you around your pivot foot. Again, this is where the quickness of the move is created, from your explosion point. Push east-west, spinning around the defender and then go north-south.

Alot goes into this move, but if mastered the spin will be lightning quick and will have defenders completely off balance. This move should be worked on equally from both sides. Get the footwork down first, then work on the head and shoulder action.


Stutter Step

This is my bread-n-butter move. I have gotten by many defenders over the years with the Stutter Step. If mastered, it is extremely deadly, also setting youself up for the various counter moves you can use once done successfully. The key to the move is the "set-up". Usually if going to the right, I will use a soft between-the-legs crossover from left to right to set-up the Stutter Step. The goal of this set-up dribble is simply to make the defender think you have no intention of going North-South with the dribble. He relaxes, becomes flat-footed for that brief moment when he thinks he has you contained, then you explode by him. Timing is important, the set-up is important, and obviously the execution is also important.

Here is a breakdown going to the right: As you go from left to right with your set-up dribble, your head-n-shoulders should "square-up", much like the hesitation dribble, you are selling to the defender that you have come to a stop. Once the ball is crossed over to your right hand, the right foot extends forward slightly, but not completely. You need to save room for the explosion you are about to unleash. What I do, is a quick "toe-tap", before fully extending the right foot passed the defender, pushing off the left foot, which has created a North-South explosion point. While the toe tap is occuring, the ball is reaching it's max height in my right hand, making it appear as though my dribble is stopped. That is when you explode off the left foot, get your left shoulder around the defender, and explode to the rim. Again, timing is everything. Practice this move, getting the set-up, the head-and-shoulders, and the eventual explosion by the defender timed perfectly. You will have one EXPLOSIVE first step if you do.


The Crossover

The crossover is one of the most well known off-the-dribble moves in basketball. The move is pretty simple. Here is a breakdown going right to left:

The set-up to a great crossover is almost as important as the execution itself. Again, my offensive philosophy is to always sell the defender the opposite of what you want to do. Dribbling right, your head and shoulders should show hesitation dribble to the right. At the last second you plant your right foot, creating an explosion point(see basketball terms) to the left. As you push off your explosion point, make a quick dribble from your right hand to your left in front of your body. Make sure the dribble is low and hard or a good defender will pick your pocket(steal the ball.) Once you have successfully gone east-west with the ball(switching hands with the dribble), then tuck your shoulder around the defender and explode north-south with the dribble.

Many And-1 videos have shown ankle breaking, balance losing, deadly crossovers over recent years, but in my opinion it is one of the more dangerous moves a player can make. The reason: the basic front crossover involves putting the ball directly in front of the defender. The risk/reward isn't there in my opinion, which is why I use either a between-the-legs crossover, or a behind-the-back crossover. Both accomplish the same thing, the latter two protect the ball much more effectively, but are also that much more difficult to master. Put in the extra work it takes to master a quick crossover and you will be penetrating defenses for years to come.


In-and-Out Dribble

The in/out move is a staple of Tony Parker's game, using it most often in fast break situations. It is a highly effective counter move to the crossover dribble, as you basically start the crossover before keeping the dribble on the original side. This move is sold with your head, hands, and feet. You must master each of these to have an effective in/out move, but when mastered, will devastate a defender who's looking for your crossover.

Here's a breakdown going to the right: The head is going to make a quick glance inside, making the defender think crossover. The dribble should initially start like a crossover, going in the left direction, but instead of completing the crossover, you quickly cup the left side of the ball with you right hand, bringing the ball back to the right side of your body. Because your hand is on the top-left of the ball, this is not a carry. If it goes underneath, you will most likely be called for a carry. The footwork should also start off like a crossover, but as you bring the ball back to your right side, your left foot will plant, and explode to the right.

The key is timing the head fake, with the ball reversal, with your explosion. Getting all of these on the same page will make for a smooth in/out move. Once perfected, you will lose very little momentum and should be able to blow right by the defender with this move.


The Stutter-Butters

This is a great counter move once you've mastered the stutter step. In this move, you are essentially selling the stutter step to the defense, then setting yourself up for the wide open jump shot.

Here's a breakdown going to the right: Same set-up and execution as stutter step(see stutter step in this section). Once you have taken your first dribble and first step toward the rim, you make a quick stop, pushing back off of your lead right foot. At the same time you go between the legs, crossing the ball back to your left hand. Now the ball is in your left shooting pocket. Now comes the "butters" part. Pull up and drain the wide open jump shot. I usually do this move after I've beaten a defender off the dribble a few times. He's gonna overplay the drive, and because it is essentially the same move as the stutter step(up until the last moment), he is going to be on his heels, leading to a wide open jumper for yourself. Practice over and over so that when you stop and crossover, the ball is in your shooting pocket, which will allow you to get the shot off much quicker and with greater ease.

how do I become a better dribbler?

Spin Move

The spin move is highly effective versus overly aggresive defenders. It's also a very safe move, since as you spin, you are protecting the ball. This is why many NBA and College point guards use this move as they are bringing the ball upcourt against heavy pressure. Dwayne Wade is an NBA player of today that has a great spin move.

Here is a breakdown going right to left: While moving to the right you want to jump stop with your left foot in front, using this same left foot to reverse pivot, spinning off of your opponent, and hopefully passed your opponent. As you jump stop, the ball should be cupped from the top with your right hand, quickly dribbled once, before continuing the dribble with your left hand just as you complete the spin. The quickness of the spin is created by using your right foot as the explosion point, pushing against your momentum to the right, creating a quick spin.

How do I shake my defense?

Hesitation Move

In this move, you try to get the defender off balance by making him think you're coming to a stop, before exploding by the defender. In his prime, and even now, Grant Hill was a master at this move.

Here is a breakdown going to the right: As you come up to the defender, your left foot will plant, stopping your momentum. The left foot will then slip behind you, creating an explosion point(see basketball terms) toward the rim. As you come to this stop, your head and shoulders will "square" up, making it appear, at least from the waist up, that you have come to a stop. As you push off your explosion point, tuck your left shoulder around the defender. Once that shoulder is around him, he is beat. Explode to the rim and posterize somebody.


Fake Spin - Back to the Basket

After mastering the spin move, the more efficient, fake spin move can be utilized. When playing against a new defender, I always start off with the spin move, allowing for the fake spin the rest of the game. Once a defender gets beat by the spin move, he's always aware of it. Even if I don't get by the defender with the spin, just showing the quickness of it keeps him off balance and allows me to use the fake spin more effectively. The start of the move is set up just like the actual spin move. Instead of slipping the backfoot behind the defender for a pivot, the right foot is instead going to be your explosion point.

Breakdown going to the left: Again, the head is looking over the left shoulder. Instead of dipping to the left, the head will make a quick half spin toward the right, before turning back to it's original position. More than any other move, the head-fake is of utmost importance. The defender will immediately think spin when he see's the head turn toward the right, even though no other part of the body moves in that direction. The shoulders stay square until you explode left. When that happens you will duck your left shoulder around the defender. The ball is being dribbled just like the spin move. When you're about to complete the fake spin, the ball should be at it's peak. With this move the ball will never switch hands, making it a much easier move to master. The footwork is the exact opposite of the spin. DON'T slip your back foot, instead explode with the right foot by pushing off, exploding to the left. Your left foot will be your pivot foot.

This move is an easy move to master. The difficulty is more above the shoulders. Concentrate on timing the head fake, developing your quickest half head spin, and then exploding off your right foot. Again, mastering the spin move is the key to it's counter, the fake spin. Do that, and the defender is yours.

How to improve ball handling and dribbling skills

Add a Tennis Ball to Your Dribbling Practice

Find a friend and a tennis ball to amp up your dribbling practice. While you are dribbling, ask your friend to bounce pass the tennis ball to you from about 10 feet away. Your friend should mix-up the tennis ball bounces. Bouncing the tennis ball to the right, to the left, fast and slow keeps you on your toes. You will have to change your dribble as the passer changes the throws to catch the tennis ball while you are dribbling. Pass the tennis ball back to your friend and never lose your dribble. Keep this up for fifteen minutes a day. Count out loud the number of balls you have caught in a row while dribbling. Try to improve each day.


Crossover (Behind the Back)

This is my crossover of choice. For one, it is a natural counter to the stutter step, which is one of my favorite off the dribble moves, but also, it is the most difficult crossover to steal because the ball is never in arms reach until the crossover is already completed. The move is an extremely advanced, difficult move to master, but again, once mastered, it will make a deadly counter to the stutter step.

Here's a breakdown from right to left: I like to start the move off exactly like the stutter step(see stutter step). At the point when you would normally blow by your opponent with the stutter, you instead use your right foot to plant, and explode to the left, at the same time, you are making a low dribble directly behind your back, and up into your left hand. The key to a quick behind-the-back crossover is the direction of the dribble itself. Say the basket is North, and your left is West, the dribble itself would be in a North-West direction. If you just go East-West, it takes away from it's effectiveness, so put in the time to get a low, North-West dribble, as close to your heel as possible. This is where the difficulty comes in, getting this low, behind the back dribble that doesn't stop your momentum toward the basket. Master this, along with the stutter step, and you will be a nightmare for defenses.

how do I become a better dribbler?

Crossover (Between the Legs)

Another more advanced way to change directions and protect the ball is with a between the legs dribble. Tim Hardaway made this move famous in the '90's.

Here is a break down going right to left: The head and shoulders should make the defender think you wanna go right. The move should look like a hesitation dribble going to the right, then at the last second you plant your right foot creating an explosion point(see basketball terms) to the left. As you come to your stop, a quick "scissors" action of your legs will then get your right foot from out front, to behind you, allowing for the crossover from your right hand to your left hand take place, again, through the legs. The key to achieving the "quickness" in the move is practicing the "scissors" motion with your legs. The quicker you can set-up for the crossover with the scissor, the more deadly it will be.

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Ray Lokar