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Kyrie Irving dribbling the basketball during an NBA game

Kyrie Irving’s Favorite Basketball Ball Handling Drill

By Isaiah Barnes and the Dualete Team

July 22, 2022

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I can’t stress enough how important dribbling skills are the more advanced you get – and that goes for whether you’re a guard, a forward, or even a center these days. If anyone watches the NBA, there’s a player named Chet Holmgren who just got drafted #2 overall in the NBA draft a month ago to the OKC Thunder. And in his first game in the summer league, he impressed a TON of people, including Kevin Durant.

Now there’s a lot to like about Chet’s game: He’s 7 feet tall, he can shoot, and he can defend almost any position. But the thing that stood out to people the most BY FAR were his handles. The way he was able to dribble around defenders at that height was seriously crazy.

OKC rookie Chet Holmgren dribbling during an NBA Summer League game

This is just where the sport is heading. If a center these days is expected to be able to handle the ball, you better believe you need to develop legit dribbling skills if you’re a guard or a forward. And I’m not saying most kids don’t try to improve them. A lot of people look to hoopers like Kyrie Irving, who has maybe the best handles of all time in the NBA, and say they want to be able to dribble like him.

How to Train Your Dribbling Skills

Like most things in basketball, I think people overcomplicate this way too much. It’s simple: if you want handles like Kyrie, train your handles like Kyrie! But just because it’s simple does NOT mean that it is easy. Very, very few people are actually able to dribble at an elite level. There is a reason that Kyrie stands out from so many other amazing basketball players.

Why is it so difficult? The reason is because you have to focus on multiple things at once, and our brains are absolutely terrible at doing that. If you’ve ever tried the old “pat your head and rub your belly” trick before, you know hard it is to multitask.

I bet you guys see a ton of kids who can dribble the lights out in an open gym, but come gametime, all that flashy stuff goes away. The reason is that during practice when no one’s guarding you, all your brain has to focus on is the right dribble to make.

In a game, all of a sudden you have somebody in your face trying to take the ball from you, your teammates are running around screaming for the ball, your coach is yelling at you to read the defense and run a play – and I can go on and on. It’s really, really hard to try and balance all these things while also trying to make a move on your defender using your handles.

The good thing is by forcing our brain to focus on dribbling AND keeping our awareness up, we can train our brain to get better at it over time. So when it comes to play in a real game, this will be a whole lot easier.

Kyrie's Dribbling Drill

Kyrie Irving doing a ball handling drill with his trainer

To do this drill, you’re going to need 2 basketballs and another person who’s willing to help you out. Have your partner hold the basketball about 10 feet away from you while you face the hoop. Then do:

– 2 dribbles with your right hand

– Cross between your legs to your left hand

– 2 dribbles with your left hand

– Cross between your legs to your right hand and repeat from step 1

While you’re doing this, your partner should throw the other ball at you at random times. When they throw the ball, catch it with one hand and throw the one you have been dribbling to your partner. They will then throw the original ball back to you so you can shoot it and repeat this drill from the beginning. You can check out the video of Kyrie doing it with the button at the bottom of the email.

To start off, it’ll be easier to just get the dribbling part down before you add in your partner throwing the other ball at you. Once you’re beginning to get better, you can add in different dribbling patterns and do this in different areas of the court (3 point line, before a layup, midrange). The most important thing is that you do dribble the ball very fast! We want it to be as challenging as possible for your brain so it can work harder and harder (just look how fast Kyrie is going).

Again, the point of this drill is to get you dribbling while keeping your head up and being ready to catch the ball. This will help you become comfortable staying aware while handling the basketball. Throw this in for 15 minutes into your workout 2-3 times a week, and you will start seeing results. If you want to see him doing the drill on video, check this out!

Taking Your Game to the College Level

If you really want to get to the next level with your game, this is a great place to start, but there's still so many things to master: shooting, strength training, nutrition, and college recruiting just to name a few. That's why we worked with Top 100 recruit and University of Michigan Basketball Player Isaiah Barnes to create a complete class on getting to the college level and earning a D1 basketball scholarship – you can check it out on our classes pages in the top right corner!

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