The guards are usually the ones who are the most talented ball handlers in the team. They have the responsibility to take a look at the different positions of their teammates to make a strong and crisp pass. Often, they are also the quickest players on the court. They may be small, and appear vulnerable against taller players, however, they are the hardest ones to catch and contain. Oftentimes, the guards are also capable of creating a space for them to shoot. They are not afraid to penetrate the basket from the sidelines. If they get caught, they can easily pass the ball around.
Their senses are very much heightened to a point that they can anticipate and see where his teammates are. Point Guards give instructions to where their teammates should position themselves tactically, so that they can get the ball across them. These are just some the roles that guards execute in basketball games.
I keep thinking about what is so special among small people that they can handle their dribble so well. And then I think to myself, probably, because their legs are shorter. Their short legs enable them to quickly change positions and directions, and the distance up to where the ball will land is short enough that they can greatly control their dribble. However, there are also tall guards who are good ball handlers. For example, NBA players such as Michael Jordan who stands 6’6, Kobe Bryant who stands 6’8, and even the legendary Lakers guard Magic Johnson. They are obviously taller than other great small guards like Chauncy Billups, Chris Paul, or even Steve Nash. Upon learning about these things, I realised that it does not really matter as long as you decide to learn how to handle the ball well.
Now, whether you are a guard or not, it is a must that you learn, and master, the skill of dribbling the ball. Why? It is because every player on the court should be able dribble the ball perfectly, not just the guards. Being able to dribble well will make you more versatile and, in turn, harder to guard. Players do not do catch and shoot all the time. Most of the time is spent by moving the ball in a good position for a perfect look at the basket. Every player must recognize this. In addition, just another thing, I have noticed that players who are not great ball handlers are not confident to play the game. They are ruled by fear that the ball may be slipped or tipped off from their hands. Elevate your game and learn how to handle the ball appropriately.
Let us look at some of the tips that will help you to develop the skill of ball handling. Firstly, consider the basics of dribbling:
1. Spread your fingertips when dribbling the ball.
This is to prevent the ball from slipping off your hands. It is your fingers that should touch and control the tempo of your dribbling. Never ever use the palm to dribble the ball.
2. Protect the ball
Don’t dribble in front of yourself when closely guarded by an opponent. If your opponent stands in front of you, he can easily grab the ball from your hands. Instead, dribble onto your side and protect the ball with your body from being stolen. This is useful in post-up plays, wherein you use your back to protect the ball on the way to the basket. At times, you can dribble in front if your opponent when he is at a significant distance away from you.
3. Get to feel the ball
Adapt to the way the ball bounces off the floor. If you get used to it, it is much easier to dribble the ball, and synchronize your movements with its bounce.
4. Body Position
Your body should be lowered slightly, just enough to get the ball bounce easily into the ground. The closer the ball is to your hand, the easier it is to control, and you take away the opportunity of your opponent to get an access to the ball.
5. Look down the court
Your head should focus on what is in front of you. Find out were your teammates and your opponents are. Do not look down when dribbling the ball. You should continually look up to see what is going on around you. Remember, you do not play the game alone. You have teammates whom you have to pass the ball when they are in a great position to score.
6. Use the Crossover
Quickly bounce the ball if you want to cross it to your other hand. Whether right-handed or not, a good basketball player can dribble from both of his hands. When you cross it to the other, do it quick and forcefully. Allen Iverson has been known for his quick Crossover Dribble.
7. Change Direction
Shift your body’s weight to the direction you want to go. Players can go anywhere on the court. When you shift your gear and turn into a different direction, you turn your body’s weight to that direction in order to carry and handle the ball securely.
When you already know the basics of dribbling, get the most out of it. Bring your dribbling to a higher level. If you are in a game, you dribble the ball frequently to change positions, and get rid of your opponent. You must also learn to absorb the force that is exerted upon you by defender. By this, you can calculate how much force you will need to dribble the ball, and handle your opponent. Try to control your quickness. When you do a crossover, or pivoting dribble, do not over speed because this may cost you to lose that ball.
You have to improve your vision when playing. Your defender may look you in the eye to anticipate your move. You can actually focus your eye to the side opposite to where you are attacking to tempt the opponent of anticipating that way. You can also use your shoulders to make these kinds of faking. Move your shoulders toward the area opposite to your target, and quickly change your direction to your target area. Another thing: Use your non-dribbling hand. Place it in front of you against the hands of your defender. This will draw the defender’s hands away from the ball. Lastly, control the rhythm of the ball. You can make sudden changes in the rhythm of your dribbling. These sudden changes can usually get your opponent of their feet.