Below is a clip that has been tearing through the interwebs lately which features NBA players and a individual by the name of Jesse “Snake” Meunch. The clip basically shows Jesse doing really advanced streetball type dribbling moves, and then watching the NBA counterparts struggling to mimic the moves. It is quite impressive as you can see here:
This video made me think about the game of basketball and what is important in terms of improving your game. There is no doubt that dribbling is a crucial basketball skill which should be practiced consistently if you want to find any success. However, do these moves that Jesse shows really have anything to do with true functional skill? I would have to say no. While being able to effectively dribble between your legs and behind your back is important it is about as fancy as you will ever need to be in the game of basketball. The objective is to get the ball in the basket, not to look cool after all right?
So, I began to think about what the most important dribbling skill is. I would argue that keeping your head up while you dribble is the most critical skill a young player can develop. Keeping your head up while dribbling allows you to maximize the effectiveness of your teammates by improving your court vision so that you are able to adjust to the defense and find open teammates in positions that will likely lead to success. Think about it, if your head is down and your teammate makes a cut and is open you will likely miss this opportunity for your team to score. If you consistently make this mistake it will literally take points off the scoreboard for your team opening up a huge hole in your game.
The better you are at ball handling the less you think about dribbling in a game situation, which allows you to think about more things that take greater mental energy (defensive set, play calling, court vision, etc.). A great way to learn how to make the act of dribbling more natural is to dribble while doing another activity (mutli-tasking). Now that you know why it is worthwhile to learn to dribble with your head up let’s look at some drills that will help this concept sink in.
Drill #1: Dribble multi-tasking
Drill #2: Dribble Multi-tasking (Advanced)
As you can see both of these videos are based on the same concept of becoming a more proficient ball handler through multi-tasking, which forces you to focus on the act of dribbling less and less and think about other aspects of the game more and more.
Lastly, if you are looking for a training tool to help drill dribbling with your head up look no further than these goggles. The bottom of these specs are filled in so that you must keep your head up while dribbling.
At the end of the day you can practice your days away working on streetball moves that will make people eww and awe, but if you are unable to be a head up ball handler you will be missing out on points which can cost your team W’s.