Basketball: The Cone-Dribbling Drills

Interior of a gym at school
A row of orange cones on the floor of a basketball court. (Image: michaklootwijk/iStock/Getty Images)

Dribbling and ball-handling skills are vital if you want to be a good basketball player. To develop and perfect your skills, repetition and practice are your allies. There are no shortcuts if you want to be the best. And one of the best ways to practice dribbling is with cone-dribbling drills.

Zig-Zag Drill

Using six cones, set up the cones on one side of the basketball court from one end to the other, using a right to left zig-zag pattern. This drill teaches a player to focus on his surroundings instead of looking at the floor. A player begins by dribbling with the ball in the right hand, moving towards the first cone. When the first cone is reached, the player does a crossover dribble to the left hand, and dribbles toward the second cone. At the second cone, a crossover dribble returns the ball to the right hand. This zig-zag pattern is continued until the last cone is reached.

Variations on the Zig-Zag Crossover

After you've done the drill with a crossover dribble, change the dribble to behind the back and repeat the process. Other variations include the spin-move, between-the- legs switch up dribble and an in-and-out move in place of the crossover at each cone.

Tight Dribbling Drill

In this drill the cones are set up closer than in the zig-zag drill, with three cones on each side of the lane -- one at the three-point line, one at the elbow, and one in between the elbow and the baseline. This drill works players in closer quarters and simulates more of a pressured, half-court situation. Begin by dribbling at the first cone and execute a crossover dribble, then continue by crossing over and changing hands at each cone. After going through with the crossover, use a behind the back, between the legs, spin move and in-and-out move to change directions at each individual cone. This is an up-tempo drill that teaches offense.

Two-Cone Retreat Drill

This drill helps simulate handling the ball against pressure or a trap. It works on keeping your head up and using a retreat dribble. Position cones about 10 feet apart in a straight line. Dribble at the first cone, and touch the cone with your non-dribbling hand. Next dribble backwards in a retreat dribble toward the starting cone. The key to this drill is to watch the floor during the retreat dribble and to angle your body to protect the ball. When you reach the original cone, touch it with your non-dribbling hand, cross over and repeat the drill with your other hand

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