The summer is the most important time for any player looking to improve. Why? You don’t always have time during the season. There are games, practices. You need rest, recovery. But in the summer, it’s often just you and a ball, and an empty gym if you’re lucky. The truly great players take advantage of that. Kobe. Mike. LeBron. And now it’s your turn.
With June officially here, I’m outlining specific drills for specific skill-sets that every great player is going to need to get to that next level, as well as how you can master these. Every high school kid needs to take advantage of the summer. Don’t miss out. In today’s No Days Off: 5 Key Basketball Skills and Drills to Change Your Game This Summer.
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image via @nikebasketball
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Now more so than ever, the emphasis on ball-handling skills has skyrocketed into a newfound level of importance. Remember that one time big Shaq caught a rebound, dribbled the length of the floor, and finished in transition and it was unlike anything we had ever seen? Ball-handling isn’t just a guard thing; it’s a skill every player must have. Anthony Davis is a tremendous example of the transition we are seeing in basketball. Chris Paul is absolutely masterful with the ball as well.
Stationary ball-handling is key for warming up. (Five minutes.) If you have access to weighted basketballs, I would suggest making that investment. Having a heavier ball will increase hand and wrist strength. There are 6-8 different moves I suggest to start off your ball-handling. Everyone has their own names for some of these moves; these are just the terms I grew up with. Spend 30 seconds on each exercise, a couple of times through:
– left hand dribble
– right hand dribble
– two hands, two balls speed dribble
– two hands, two balls power dribble
– hot potato
– cold potato
– spider dribble (front, front, back, back)
Now that you’re warmed up, I suggest a 2-cone drill that allows you to work in two separate moves. Let’s not practice over-dribbling. Being crisp, smart, and efficient with your dribble is key. You can use either cones, or chairs, whichever you have access to. The important thing worth noting is when doing these drills, going game speed is pertinent. What good is it if you can rock half-speed moves but can’t deliver in a game because you’ve never practiced at a significant pace? Remember those blinders I told you about? And that workout partner? Get on that.
Set a cone just about 10 feet past midcourt on either the right or left side–whichever side you start on, you’ll do both sides to work on both hands–and a cone at the top of the key. Start at midcourt and once you hit your first cone, deliver a move: crossover, hesitation dribble, behind the back. Push your dribble out toward the top of the key where your next cone awaits, and that will set up your next move.
This simulates either a transition scenario or coming off an on-ball and you can finish with a jump shot or at the rim. If you’re aiming for the rim, get there in one dribble. If you opt for a pull-up J, get somewhere with the dribble–you don’t want to come off the cone and waste a dribble, get past a defender, elevate up, and shoot. The best parts of this 2-cone drill are that its tiring, it gets you going full speed, you can use a variety of moves and work in two moves back-to-back, all while having to make quick decisions. What makes the best ball-handlers out there THE best is they lack hesitation. That’s ultimately what you want to work up to.