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A Few Ball Handling Drills

by Ed Riley

The Slide (or the Ladder) - a passing, catching and footwork drill

  1. Line up all but 1 of your players on the baseline, facing the opposite basket, about 4' or so apart. For the sake of simplicity, let's number them 2 through 10.
  2. You need 2 balls.
  3. The 1 player has a ball and stands about 8' away, facing # 2 who is at one of the ends of the player's line.
  4. #2 now has a ball and the 1 player facing them has a ball.
  5. The 1 player passes to #3, the #2 passes to #1, who passes to #4, while catching the pass from #3. #1 passes to the next person in line, while catching a pass from the last person they threw the ball to.
  6. Players 2-10 never move, except to step into the pass they are receiving from #1.
  7. #1 slides their feet as they move down the line catching and passing. They never cross 1 foot in front of the other as they move, THEY SLIDE FROM SIDE TO SIDE.
  8. Once #1 has made it to the end, they go the other way and pass to 9, while receiving a pass from 10. When they make it back down to #2, then it's #2's turn to do the drill. #1 now takes a place in line.

Here's my attempt at a diagram. Quit laughing, at least I'm trying.
2  3  4  5  5  6  7  8  9  10
1  1  1  1  1  1  1  1  1  1  1

After 1 passes to #3, 1 slides right while receiving the pass from 2, They constantly are sliding right as they pass. Once they get to 10, they go back the other way. Do this until everyone has been back and forth once.

The Reverse Direction Drill

This is a SET of ball handling drills using the following pattern. Draw a basketball court with halfcourt line and both free-throw lines. Number the following positions on your drawing.

#1 = Bottom right hand corner of court, where baseline meets the out of bounds line.

#2 = Middle of closest free-throw line.

#3 = Where half court meets the out of bounds line on the right side of the court.

#4 = Middle of farthest free-throw line.

#5 = Farthest corner of court where baseline meets the out of bounds on right side of court.

Folks, if you draw a line from 1 to 2, 2 to 3, 3 to 4, and 4 to 5, this should look like a zigzag on the right side of the court.


  1. Player starts on 1 and dribbles to position 2 left-handed.
  2. At 2 they do a crossover, and dribble right handed to position 3.
  3. C. At position 3, they do another crossover and dribble left handed to position 4.
  4. At position 4, they do another crossover and dribble right handed to position 5.
  5. When they do their crossover, they dribble lower to the ground while switching their dribbling hands.
  6. SPIN MOVES using the same positions 1 - 5 as in the Crossover Drill
  7. The player runs the same route, 1-5. Every time they reach a numbered position, they use a spin move to change their direction and dribbling hands.

BEHIND THE BACK using the same positions 1-5

The player uses the same route, 1 - 5. Every time they reach a numbered position, they do a behind the back pass to themselves to change direction and dribbling hands.

Duck Walk or Figure 8's - a ball handling drill

Have the player do a figure 8 between their legs with the ball. You can learn this movement while you sit in your chair reading this. Go grab a ball, a book, even a pen. Let's say you have a book. Now hold the book in your right hand in between your knees. Take the book under your left knee, and reach down and grab it with your left hand. Take the book in your left hand and take it on the outside of your left knee, then take it under your right knee and hand it to your right hand. Voila, you now have a figure 8. This is how your players must do it with a basketball, just not sitting down.

Duck Walk = Have your players on the baseline with a ball. They do a figure 8 between their legs while they walk the length of the court. When they get good at this, have them walk backwards and do it.

Once the players get accustomed to these drills, you can do all of them in 15 minutes. For the younger players, this may be all the ball handling drills you need to teach them for a while. If your 3rd grade through 7th grade team can all do crossovers, behind the back, spin moves, and the rest of these moves, then they will be one of the best ball handling teams in your league.

One thing to remember, these drills are for your forwards and centers as well. The kid who is your center today, may not grow anymore, and may be your guard 2 years from now. Everyone should become a ball handler.

Copyright 2001-2002, by Ed Riley, Steve Jordan, Darrell Garrison and Steve MacKinney. All rights reserved.

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