Dribbling vs Ball Handling

If you watch basketball or talk about basketball you often hear the terms dribbling and ball handling. So what is the difference? According to Dictionary.com, dribbling is to advance a ball or puck by bouncing it or giving it a series of short kicks or pushes. Also on Dictionary.com, ball handling is the control of the ball, as in basketball or soccer, by skillful dribbling and accurate passing.

Basically everyone that plays basketball can dribble. If you ever played the game before you dribbled a ball. It’s really not that difficult a job. Ball handling separates ball players and often leads to arguments among basketball fans.  Now sometimes you might hear someone say “oh he can’t dribble” and that doesn’t mean the person can’t put the ball on the floor and get pass someone. Essentially if you are talking with someone who understands the game of basketball, “he can’t dribble” just means “he has no handle” because we all know all basketball players can “dribble”.

Well how do you know if a player has a good handle? The answer is simple, watch them play. Look at the moves they make with the ball. It is possible to be great at dribbling the ball but only have a decent handle. It is also possible for someone with decent handle to shake someone. People with great handle have counter moves to everything. At times their moves look awkward because they are constantly changing direction, changing angles and changing speeds.

If you watch a player and he is dribbling fast and doing multiple moves, it doesn’t mean he has a great handle. Watch the sequence of moves. If they constantly do the same sequence; like in & out, crossover, behind the back and another crossover then it means they are just wild and have no control of the moves they want to perform.

We can easily compare dribbling and ball handling by looking at point guards because they always have the ball in their hands. A guy like Russell Westbrook is a guy who can dribble the ball but doesn’t have an elite handle. He is quick, fast, strong and explosive. However if you see most of his highlight plays he is just faster than the opponent. He’s not real crafty with the ball but he doesn’t have to be because he can still get around any defender.

Guys like Kyrie Irving and Steph Curry have elite handle. They don’t have elite speed or athleticism but their handle is so good they can get around any defender. They have counter moves to every move in their arsenal. Kyrie Irving once said, “I have counters to every move I do.” I know as a ball handler I have counters as well. You always want to keep the defense guessing. Kyrie shakes Glen Rice Jr. by controlling his pace.

Great ball handlers are masters of pace. They can stop on a dime, speed up and change direction whenever they need it. Irving also says, “I’ll always have a change of pace or have a change of direction to kind of keep them [defenders] off balance.” Point guards are not the only ones with a great handle. LeBron James has a decent handle; personally I think his handle was better when he was younger. He has great control of the basketball but he usually doesn’t break down his defender with an elite move. Kevin Durant on the other hand has a very great handle for such a tall player. His crossover is deadly and he has counter moves. Forget the dunk but KD's in & out was smooth.

So is your favorite player a good dribbler or an elite ball handler? Just type their name in YouTube followed by crossover and see if the results give you a top 10 crossover list, or different crossover mixes.