An important part of being a point guard or solid ball handler is the ability to dribble the ball up the court to setup your teams offense. But this can be a daunting task considering your dangers of having the ball stolen, mishandling your dribble, or being forced into a bad pass.
To successfully bring the ball up the court you need solid ball handling skills, especially dribbling skills. You can improve your ball skills by practicing Circle Dribbles, Figure 8 Dribbles, and Power Dribbles, all of which are described on the Ball Handling page. Another great drill is Sprinting with the Ball, in this drill you run as fast as you can down the court while dribbling, so fast that you lose the ball. All these drills will help you dribble the ball in traffic at high speeds, which is necessary for bringing the ball up the court.
Additionally, here are some tips:
- Awareness Before Dribbling. Before you catch the rebound or pass, have an idea of who is next to you. Have they all retreated back to play defense or are some hanging around you trying to get a turnover or full court pressing? Never start dribbling until you know who is near you.
- Stay Low. Keep your legs very bent and dribble the ball extremely low (almost to the point of feeling silly), this limits the defenders access to the ball.
- Keep the Ball Away from the Defender. If the defender is on your right, cross the ball over to your left and vice versa. If the defender reaches in, turn around shielding the ball with your body (if you watch point guards on TV, they never give the defender a chance to reach the ball).
- Don’t Rush a Pass. Your main job is to not turn the ball over, make sure whoever you pass to is wide open.
- Stay Under Control. Bringing the ball up the court should not be a risky task, take your time and get the job done in a conservative way. Take it step by step and dribble with caution and control.
- Don’t Try to Score. Your team is entrusting you to get them involved, so unless there is a complete defensive breakdown you should not take a shot or drive the ball. Simply get the ball to a cutter or someone out on the wing. You may beat your defender if they go for a steel but this does not mean you should try to score. Instead, dribble towards the hoop and wait for a teammate to get open when their defender tries to help.
- Watch out for aggressive defenders. If your man is an especially skilled and aggressive defender, you may want to pass the ball to someone else instead of trying to bring the ball up.
- Practice Ball Handling Drills. As we mentioned already, practicing your ball handling will make bringing the ball up the court feel natural.
Bringing the ball up the court is an important and exciting part of being a basketball player, even if it’s just pickup games. If you practice your ball handling, protect the ball, and play selflessly, your teammates will soon be relying on you to be the ball handler.