14 Basketball Drills Dribbling 1 Ball
Changing Direction & Speed


basketball drills dribbling

Build fundamental skills with 14 youth basketball drills dribbling with 1 ball.

These basketball dribbling exercises teach ball handlers how to get past defenders by changing their direction and speed.

The following basketball tips and drills teach basic dribbling moves and are guaranteed to improve ball handling skills in players of all levels.

Practice these moves regularly and you'll improve your game tremendously. 

The goal is to continue making your comfort zone bigger by mastering new skills one at a time.

I remember when I was just starting out I played the point guard position on my junior high school team.

I was responsible for bringing the ball up the floor and getting us into our offense.

I was 12 years old, it was my first season, and I was scared!

I remember the knots I would get in my stomach when my defender would pick me up full court and pressure me all the way down the court.

For someone with limited ball handling skills, it was tough!

As the season progressed and I became a better dribbler, my confidence got a lot stronger, I came became a much better player, and I had a lot more fun.

We're going to focus on some basic skills you'll need to bring the ball up the court when a defender is guarding you. Each basketball move is used for a different reason depending on what the defense is doing at the time.

14 Fun Basketball Drills Dribbling with 1 Ball

Click on a drill to jump to it, or scroll down to browse all

  1. Speed
  2. Change of Pace
  3. Control
  4. Change of Direction
  5. Retreat
  6. Crossover
  7. Reverse (or Spin)
  8. Fake Reverse
  9. Between the Legs
  10. Behind the Back
  11. Retreat & Crossover Combo
  12. Between Legs/Behind Back Combo
  13. Scissor Walk (passing)
  14. Scissor Walk (dribbling)

Youth Basketball Dribbling Exercises

1. Speed Dribble

Purpose: This dribble is used on a fast break to get the basketball up the floor in a hurry when no defenders are in your way.

Basketball Drills Dribbling Tips:

  • Push ball – Push the ball out in front of you, so you have to run to stay up with it. If you dribble it too close to your feet, it will really slow you down or you may trip on it.
  • Full speed – Go quickly before the defense can catch you.
  • Straight ahead – Take the shortest angle to the basket or wherever you're headed.
  • Eyes up – Always keep your eyes up, looking down the court. Don't get distracted by looking behind you over your shoulder. Don't get caught looking down at the ball; you'll miss open teammates down court or fail to see scoring opportunities that develop.
  • Waist-high dribble – This allows you to run full speed without having to bend over to dribble the ball.
  • Keep ball near side – Avoid dribbling the ball in the middle of your body. If you're dribbling with your right hand, it should stay on your right side out in front. If you're using your left hand, keep it slightly to the left side of your body. This keeps the ball out of the way of your feet, so you don't get tripped up.
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2. Change of Pace Dribble

Purpose: Sometimes a defender gets in your way, but she is out of position or back on her heels and a quick hesitation dribble is all that's needed to get by her.

Basketball Drills Dribbling Tips:

  • Perform the speed dribble as described above. Dribble 3-4 times at full speed and then stop moving forward. Continue dribbling, but pause in this spot for one dribble, and then sprint forward again for several more dribbles. Stop again for one dribble and sprint forward again.
  • It may not seem like much, but this small hesitation is all you need at times to get the defender off balance. Once she gets out of position, you blow straight past her.
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3. Control Dribble

Purpose: When you're being closely guarded, this dribble allows you to move the ball up the floor while protecting it from the defender's hands.

Basketball Drills Dribbling Tips:

basketball dribbling exercises
  • Bend at the knees, keeping back straight (like sitting in a chair)
  • Keep eyes up, looking down the floor for an open player or shot
  • Dribble ball close to body
  • Keep dribble low – no higher than your knees
  • Arm bar – keep offhand arm bent out in front to protect ball from defender
  • Feet should be shoulder width apart
  • Dribble with pads of fingers – don't slap ball or dribble with your palm
  • With ball in your right hand, face sideways to the direction you are going with your right hand behind you. Dribble the ball behind your right foot, keeping it close to your body and bouncing it no higher than your knee.
  • As you move up the floor, your feet kind of shuffle so that you always keep your right hand and ball behind you, away from the defense. The left forearm stays bent ("arm bar") and shields the ball from the defender's hands if she tries to steal it.
  • With the ball in your left hand, face the sideline so that your left hand is behind you. Dribble the ball behind your left foot, keeping it close to your body and below your knees.
  • As you move up the floor, shuffle so that you always keep your left hand and ball behind you, away from the defense. The right forearm stays bent in front of you to protect the ball from the defender's hands.
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4. Change of Direction Dribble

Purpose: There are many times when you're dribbling the ball that you need to change direction:

Basketball Drills Dribbling Tips:

  • When your defender is leading you to the sideline, and you need to change direction so you don't go out of bounds.
  • When a defender jumps in your way, and you need to change course before you run him over.
  • When you see a passing or scoring opportunity on the other side of the court, and you need to get over there as quickly as possible to take advantage of a great pass or shot.
  • When a couple of defenders team up to trap you, you need to be able to back out of the trap and head another direction.

*You can use any of the following drills to change direction while you're dribbling

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5. Retreat Dribble

Purpose: You use this dribble when you need to back away from defensive pressure. When the defense is closely guarding you and you're doing a control dribble, you may find yourself in the middle of traffic that you need to get out of.

There may not be enough space to do a crossover or spin move (which we'll discuss later), so your only option may be to control dribble backwards until the pressure is relieved.

Basketball Drills Dribbling Tips:

  • Perform a control dribble, but after you dribble 3-4 times forward, stop for a few dribbles while protecting the ball with your off hand and then back up while dribbling a couple of dribbles.
  • You should be positioned exactly as you would be for the control dribble. The only difference is that your feet are moving backward instead of forward. After you dribble back for 3-4 dribbles, go forward again.
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6. Crossover Dribble

Purpose: Most of the time when you dribble the ball up the floor a defender is guarding you and trying to influence your direction from side to side. This dribble is used to change the angle of your direction.

Basketball Drills Dribbling Tips:

  • Dribble the ball with your right hand while heading slightly to the right side of the court. After 3 or 4 dribbles, plant your right foot and cross the ball over to your left hand with one bounce while heading at an angle to the left side of the court.
  • After several dribbles, plant your left foot, cross the ball over to your right hand with one dribble, and head back toward the right side of the court. Repeat this zig-zag pattern back and forth until you reach the end of the court.
  • For the crossover to work, it's important that you move up the court in a zig-zag pattern instead of in a straight line. By dribbling toward one side of the court, you pull your defender over to that side. Then, when you crossover, you get a bit of a head start in the new direction.
  • When your defender catches up to you and overplays you on the left side you crossover to the right and gain another step advantage.

Caution: This is a dangerous move if your defender is guarding you closely. The ball may be easy to steal if you cross it where the defender's hands are.

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7. Reverse (Spin) Dribble

Purpose: When you need to change your direction but you're being too closely guarded to cross the ball in front of you, this is another option for changing direction.

Basketball Drills Dribbling Tips:

  • Keep your off hand bent out front to protect the ball.
  • Ball is dribbled by your back foot with your opposite foot near the defender.
  • Keep knees slightly bent.
  • Dribble the ball with your right hand while heading slightly to the right side of the court. After 3 or 4 dribbles, plant your left foot (should be your front foot that is closest to the defender), do a half-spin backwards keeping your stomach away from the defender while pulling the ball around with you, and head off toward the left side of the court.
  • After several dribbles, plant your right foot (front foot, closest to defender), do a reverse pivot off the right foot keeping your stomach away from the defender. Pull the ball around with you using a single dribble and head back toward the right side of the court.
  • To be most effective, you need to move in a zig-zag pattern. If you go in a straight line up the court, you're not really changing direction, so your defender has no trouble staying with you.
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8. Fake Reverse Dribble

Purpose: Once your defender thinks you are doing a reverse spin, he will adjust his body to try to stop you from going the new direction. By faking the reverse, you will gain a step on him and be able to dribble by.

Basketball Drills Dribbling Tips:

  • Follow the instructions for the spin move. However, when you get to the point where you plant your front foot, do a half-spin backwards and pull the ball around; instead of changing direction, spin right back in the direction you came from.
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9. Between the Legs Dribble

Purpose: A good way to change direction using your legs to help protect the ball.

Basketball Drills Dribbling Tips:

  • Dribble the ball with your right hand while heading slightly to the right side of the court. After 3 or 4 dribbles, plant your left foot (should be your front foot that is closest to the defender). With your left foot out front and your right foot back, push the ball between your legs to your left hand.
  • Dribble at an angle toward the left side of the court and plant your right foot (front foot, closest to defender). Push the ball through with one bounce to the right hand and head off at an angle to the right side of the court.
  • Once again, the movement should be in a zig-zag pattern to force the defender to change position.
  • This is an advanced dribble that is used by advanced ball handlers.
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10. Behind the Back Dribble

Purpose: A good way to change direction using your body to help protect the ball.

Basketball Drills Dribbling Tips:

  • Dribble the ball with your right hand while heading at an angle to the right side of the court. After 3-4 dribbles when your left foot (opposite of your dribbling hand) is out front, pull your hips forward so you can pass the ball behind your back with one dribble to the left side. You actually push it toward the left and then run that direction to catch up to it. Catch it by dribbling with your left hand.
  • Dribble 3-4 times with your left hand at an angle to the left, plant your right foot, pull your hips forward, and pass the ball back to the right side by using one dribble behind your back. Catch up to it with your right hand and repeat.
  • It's important to pull your hips forward or it will be very hard to get the ball around behind you without hitting your backside.
  • It's also important to push the ball out to the side in the direction you will be turning or it will be hard to catch up to the ball.
  • This is an advanced dribble that is used by advanced ball handlers.
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11. Retreat & Crossover Combo

Purpose: This combination allows you to back out of pressure with the backup dribble to create enough space from your defender to crossover to change direction.

Basketball Drills Dribbling Tips:

  • Perform the retreat dribble, and after you back out of pressure, cross the ball over to the other hand (using the crossover dribble) and advance in that direction for 3-4 dribbles. Do the retreat dribble again for 3-4 dribbles, and cross the ball over to the other hand. Repeat in a zig-zag pattern up the court.
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12. Between the Legs & Behind the Back Combo

Purpose: Combine these 2 drills to really work on the more advanced change of direction ball handling drills.

Basketball Drills Dribbling Tips:

  • Start dribbling to your right with your right hand and change direction by dribbling through your legs to the left side (using the between the legs dribble). Continue to the left and when it's time to change direction, dribble behind your back to the right side (using the behind the back dribble).
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13. Scissor Walk (passing)

Purpose: This is not a skill you can use in a game, but it's a great basketball ball handling drill.

Basketball Drills Dribbling Tips:

  • Hold the ball in your right hand at your right side. Take a long stride with your left leg. Pass the ball through the inside of your left leg to your left hand.
  • Take a long stride with your right leg and pass the ball through the inside of your right leg back to your right hand. Continue to stride down the floor, passing the ball back and forth between your legs as quickly as possible.
  • Now try to perform the drill while striding backwards.
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14. Scissor Walk (dribbling)

Basketball Drills Dribbling Tips:

  • Similar to the previous drill, but instead of passing it from hand to hand, push it from one side to the other with one dribble between your legs.
  • With the ball in your right hand, take a long stride with your left leg. Bounce the ball once with your right hand, so that you can receive it with your left hand.
  • Take a long stride with your right leg and push the ball back through your legs with one dribble to your right hand. Continue to stride down the floor, dribbling the ball back and forth between your legs as quickly as possible.
  • Now try to perform the drill while striding backwards.
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