3 Ways to Take Control of the Ball in Basketball

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3 Ways to Take Control of the Ball in Basketball
3 Ways to Take Control of the Ball in Basketball

When you see an NBA player leave a defender behind with lightning-fast movements, passing the ball between his legs and behind his back, you are witnessing the culmination of years of patience and training. If you're a beginner, even having control of the ball when bouncing it off the ground can be a little intimidating. With training, anyone can control the ball well. It takes a lot of dedication to learn from scratch, but with this guide (and a lot of training), you'll get the opposing team for nothing!


Method 1 of 3: Learning Ball Control Basics

Step 1. Touch the ball with your fingertips, not your palm

You want to touch the ball in such a way that you have full contact with it, but you don't need to use too much force with your arms to keep it bouncing. For this reason, do not slap the ball with your palm. Instead, try to control the ball with your fingertips. Spread them across the surface of the ball for a larger, more balanced contact area.

Your fingertips will not only give you more control than your palm; you will also find it easier to walk and bounce the ball. Indiana Pacers player Paul George is against the contact of the ball with the palm of the hand, as this "slows the movement of bouncing the ball"

Dribble to Basketball Step 2

Step 2. Keep a low posture

When controlling the ball, it's not smart to stand upright as the ball will have to go from your upper torso to the ground and back, leaving plenty of room for the defender to steal it. Before you start moving with the ball, stay kind of crouched and defensive. Move your shoulders and feet farther apart. Bend your knees and lower your hips a little (as if you were sitting in a chair). Lift your head and keep your upper body straight. This is a good, balanced stance that protects the ball and gives it a lot of mobility.

Do not bend your body at the waist (as if you are bending down to pick something up). In addition to being bad for your back, this posture lacks balance, meaning it's easier for you to accidentally go forward, which can be a big mistake depending on the game situation

Step 3. Bounce the ball to the ground

Control the ball with your fingertips, catch it with your "good hand" and bounce it off the ground. Bounce it firmly, but not too hard so that it doesn't tire your arm and make it difficult to control. The movement with the ball must be fast, but firm and stable. Each time the ball returns to your hand, without grabbing it, make contact with your fingertips and push it back to the ground in a controlled movement of your wrist and forearm. The ball should hit the ground a little to the side and in front of the foot parallel to the good hand.

When practicing ball control for the first time, it's okay to look at the ball until you get practice. However, when you do, you shouldn't look at the ball. Hopefully, you can do this at any level in the game

Step 4. Keep your hand on top of the ball

When moving the ball, it is important to keep its movement under control. You never want the ball to escape you, as the other team can easily steal it. Try to keep the palm of your hand directly above the ball as you move so that the ball, as it bounces and rises, goes straight to your fingertips. This will give you more control over her as she moves around the court.

Another reason to focus on keeping your hand on the ball while moving: putting your hand on the bottom of the ball while moving is an infraction, called "walking the ball." To avoid this, keep your palm on the ball and facing the ground as you move

Step 5. Keep the ball low

The smaller and faster the ball bounces, the harder it is for your opponent to steal it. An effective and simple way to keep the ball bouncing fast is to get closer to the ground. Since you're already in a crouched posture (with your knees bent and hips back), it shouldn't be too uncomfortable to keep the apex of the bounce somewhere between your knee and hip. Keeping your knees bent, place your dominant hand on the side of your leg and move quickly.

You don't need to squat to the side to move in a crouched posture. If you think it's necessary, you're probably too low. Remember that in this crouched posture, the highest point of bounce should be at hip height, keeping the defense mounted

Method 2 of 3: Moving the Ball Around the Court

Step 1. Keep your head up

At the beginning of learning, it is difficult to take your eyes off the ball. However, it is very important to train your eyes to pay attention to everything around you. During a game, you'll need to know the position of your teammates, having a sense of where your defender is, as well as knowing where the basket is as you move the ball. You simply cannot do this if you are always looking at the ball.

Train seriously. Training seriously is the only way to really gain the confidence to have control of the ball when you're moving. When playing basketball, you can't waste time focusing on your movement with the ball. It should be natural - you need to "trust" the ball will return to your hand without looking at it

Step 2. Be aware of where you are going to move the ball

When having control of the ball during the game, the way it moves must change according to the positions of the other players and the conditions around them. If you are in the open court (for example, when crossing the court towards the opponent's basket), you can hit the ball in front of you to run as fast as possible. However, when defenders are close (especially if one is marking you), bounce the ball to your side (outside and in front of your foot), assuming a crouched, defensive position. Thus, he will have to cross his entire body to reach the ball, that is, making it difficult to steal the ball or even make a foul.

Step 3. Keep your body between the defender and the ball

When you are being tagged by one or more defenders - that is, when they are following you and trying to steal the ball or block the shot, defend the ball with your body. Never keep the ball on the same side as the defender is. Instead, position your body so that your body is between the defender and the ball, making it difficult for the opponent to steal. Remember: the defender cannot push you out of the way or hit your body to try and steal the ball without fouling.

  • You can use the hand that is not bouncing the ball to keep your defender away by showing your forearm to the opponent. Caution when doing this. Do not push the defender or use your arm as support. Use this arm defensively (as if holding a shield) to keep distance between you and the defender.

Step 4. Don't stop

In basketball, offensive players can move with the ball and stop only once each time they receive the ball. When moving the ball in a game, do not hold the ball in your hands unless you know what you are going to do with the ball. When stopping, you can't bounce the ball again and if the defender is smart, he can take advantage of your inability to move.

If you stop moving, your options are to pass the ball, toss it, or have it stolen from you. If you are planning to do one of the first two options, stop and do it immediately - otherwise the defense will react and the third option can happen whether you like it or not

Step 5. Know when to pass the ball

Moving is not always the smartest thing to do to get the ball to "walk" around the court. Several times, it's better to pass it. A good passing game is one of the fundamental elements of an effective attack. Passing the ball is faster than moving it, and can be something that will confuse the defense or for a teammate to receive the ball in a position that a defender occupies. Don't be "hungry" - if hitting the ball to try to make the basket means you have to go through a lot of opponents, it's a good idea to pass the ball to a teammate who has a better chance of making the basket.

Step 6. Avoid infractions when moving

There are basic rules that dictate how you control the ball. Know these rules! A reckless infraction can result in a penalty, avoiding your team's offense and giving the ball free to the other team. Avoid committing any of the following infractions:

  • Traveling: Moving with the ball without bouncing it. O Traveling includes:

    • Take an extra step, take a leap, or curl your feet.
    • Carry the ball while walking or moving.
    • Move or change the pivot foot (foot planted on the ground) when standing still.
  • two exits: This penalty refers to two separate infractions:

    • Hitting the ball with both hands at the same time
    • Hit ball, stop (holding the ball) and start hitting ball again.
  • Carrying the ball: Hold the ball with one hand and continue to hit the ball (without interrupting the movement. This infraction occurs when the player's hand makes contact with the bottom of the ball, rotating it during the bounce.

Method 3 of 3: Learning Advanced Ball Control Techniques

Step 1. Train the "Triple Threat" position

"Triple threat" is a very versatile position for offensive players after they receive the ball from a teammate on a pass, but before they start moving with the ball. From this position, the player can pass, shoot or start moving the ball. This position allows the player to protect the ball with their hands and body while deciding what to do with the ball.

Triple Threat keeps the ball close to the body, with the good hand holding the top of the ball and the bad hand holding the bottom. The player assumes a low stance, and keeps his elbows back at a 90° angle. The player leans forward a little. From this position it is very difficult for a defender to steal the ball

Step 2. Practice the "crossover" dribble

The "crossover" is a dribble used to destabilize and confuse a defender. The attacker transfers the ball between his hands, in front of his body, in a "V" shape. By threatening to go to one side, the attacker can make the defender move towards the ball, quickly switching the hand that controls the ball, dribbling the defender, or passing while the opponent is unbalanced.

A useful dribbling technique is "In & Out". Essentially, the player pretends to "crossover" but keeps the ball in the same hand

Step 3. Do the dribble of passing the ball over your back

When you're tagged by an "annoying" defender, you may need to perform more difficult dribbles. A classic is to pass the ball behind your back. This move takes a lot of practice, but it's worth it. If done correctly, this dribble can leave a defender bewildered.

Step 4. Pass the ball between your legs

Another classic move when controlling the ball is passing it between your legs. You've probably seen a lot of players do this, from the Harlem Globetrotters to LeBron James, and with good reason. By getting the ball under your legs correctly and quickly, you can get rid of even the best defenders.


  • Use your "bad hand".
  • "Squeeze" a stress ball, or even a tennis ball, when you're not on the court. It will increase the strength of your hands and give you more control when not hitting the ball and shooting.
  • Train with a friend.
  • Take an obstacle course. Cones, trash cans or even sneakers can be used.
  • Meet the basketball. A standard men's basketball has a circumference of 75 cm, while a women's basketball is 72 cm. This size difference matters a lot, especially when learning about ball control and shooting. Also, some basketballs are specially made for use indoors or outdoors; keeping this in mind will prevent premature wear of your ball.
  • Increase your ball control with TWO balls.
  • Start slowly. Start with basic fundamentals until you get to more complex exercises. By gaining confidence, you can take more challenging courses or call on a friend to defend against you.
  • Train with a tennis ball.
  • Click here to find some different workouts.

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