I was recently hanging out with a friend of mine who was talking to my third grade son about his basketball team. My friend asked, “What do you like best about basketball?” Of course, my son responded with “Shooting!” Who doesn’t love to shoot? Then my friend gave a surprising response. He said, “I remember when your dad was in elementary school. All he did was dribble down the court between defenders and shoot lay-ups. You need to work on your ball handling so you can do that.” I’m not sure how much impact that statement had on my son, but it summed up my philosophy about teaching kids the right way to play basketball. If your child can handle the ball they can get where they want to go on the court and shoot lay-ups.
How did I develop those ball handling skills? I did the “Daily Dozen” in my basement, on the driveway, or in the living room watching television. I started at around 7 years old but your child can start at any age. Each drill for one minute at maximum effort every day. If your young player does that for one month they will improve their ball handling and be a better player. If they keep practicing every day at maximum effort they will be able to dribble the ball under pressure in any situation on the court.
Here are the first three drills from the “Daily Dozen”
1. Drop Behind the Back – The player holds the ball with two hands behind the back of their neck. The player then releases the ball and quickly moves both hands to catch the ball behind the back. Next, the ball is bounced through the legs and caught with two hands in front of the waist.
2. Flip ups – Ball moves in the opposite direction from the Drop Behind the Back. Player holds the ball with both hands at the waist and bounces the ball through the legs catching it with two hands behind the back. The ball is then flipped up behind the head and caught with both hands behind the head/neck.
3. Figure 8 no dribble – The ball is held in one hand at a time and moved in a figure 8 pattern around one leg and then the other. The ball is not dribbled at all during this drill. After thirty seconds reverse the figure 8 and change the direction the ball is moving through the legs.