An Introduction to Ball Handling and Defense

When teaching ball handling to youth players, start with the 'around the world' drill and have players rotate the ball around their head, waist, and legs as quickly as possible from a standing position. Kids will learn how to control the ball with speed, which is difficult for youth players due to the size of their hands.

Players should then do the 'figure 8' drill where they take a wide stance and rotate the ball around each leg. They should then attempt the 'drop’ drill where the ball starts between the legs and the player quickly rotates their hands between the front and the back before the ball can touch the court.

Progress from stationary ball handling to stationary dribbling: protected right handed and left handed dribble, in-front crossovers, and the figure 8 dribble. When players master stationary drills, introduce full-court speed dribbling with both hands.

Switching to defense, do the defensive slide drill with foot drag across the width of the court. Begin on the sideline and instruct players to slide as fast as they can with the left foot while dragging the right foot on the court. Then switch sidelines, leading with the right foot and dragging the left.

When defenders face dribblers in full-court drills, instruct the players to never cross their feet or have their feet in the air. They should always drag their back foot so they can easily change directions. It will be difficult at first, but it will engrain the habit of using the correct defensive stance and movement.