Two-ball ball-handling drill From Bill Wenning, formerly of Cushing Academy, Ashburnham, Massachussetts

Coaches stress running drills under game-like conditions to develop strong habits. I completely agree with this rationale except with ball-handling drills.

For ball-handling drills, use two basketballs instead of just one.

When running two-ball ball handling drills, put the emphasis on keeping the head up and playing under control. Try to get your players to alternate the balls when they dribble (piston dribble); however, some players seem to need to start by bouncing both balls at the same time. They will progress to the piston dribble in a short time.

Check out these two-ball ball handling drills that you can use throughout the season. At lower levels of competition, these drills can also be done with one ball.

Speed-Control Drill

This drill helps develop a player’s skill in pushing the ball up the floor as well as protecting the ball when in traffic. By going 2 minutes clockwise and 2 minutes counter-clockwise, the drill can be used as a conditioner before free-throw shooting.

DIAGRAM 1: Speed-Control Drill. The team is split into four groups; each group goes to a corner of the court.

Players 1 4, 7 and 10 have two basketballs and on the whistle, they speed dribble toward the center circle. When they reach the center circle, they switch to a control dribble. Players must stay low and keep their bodies between the ball and the coach who is applying defensive pressure. All players go around the center circle in the same direction, either clockwise or counterclockwise.

1 4, 7 and 10 go around the circle in the control mode until they reach the part of the circle where they entered. At that point, they speed dribble back to their corner and 2 5, 8 and 11 do the same thing. The drill is continuous until you stop it to change the direction of the drill.

Since many players arrive at the center circle at the same time, players are forced to keep their heads up, hesitate and communicate before going into the circle.

Passing, Ball-Handling Drill

Use this drill as a warm-up drill at the beginning of practice or as a pre-game routine.

DIAGRAM 2: Passing/Ball Handling Drill (Part 1). The players form three lines on the baseline. 1 and 3 shuffle out to midcourt passing back and forth. When they reach midcourt they return to the baseline, continuously moving and passing to one another.

DIAGRAM 3: Passing/Ball Handling Drill (Part 2). Upon 1 and 3 returning, 2 has two basketballs and dribbles out to mid-court. He or she must hesitate and time the move to avoid getting hit by the ball that 1 and 3 are passing.

DIAGRAM 4: Passing/Ball Handling Drill (Part 3). When 1 and 3 get back to the baseline, 4 and 6 start to shuffle and pass toward half-court.

2 (who is at midcourt) turns around and takes one dribble toward the baseline while hesitating and timing his or her move to get through the passes of 4 and 6.When 2 returns to the baseline, 5 starts his or her dribble as 4 and 6 return from half court.