Ball Handling: The Behind-the-Back Dribble
The behind the back dribble is what Magic Johnson made his living on during his days leading the Lakers’ fast break. It is one of the most effective tools to get by a defender in the open floor, because it does not require you to slow your body down in order to complete the move. It is especially useful when a defender reaches for the ball.
One good behind-the-back dribble and the defender is out of the play for good, and you haven’t missed a step. It, like the between-the-legs, also has the advantage of using your body as a natural shield against the defense. If the move is executed correctly, the ball is the farthest thing from the defender, which allows you to move confidently down the floor.
How to Do the Behind-the-Back Dribble:
Stand at one end of the court. Begin with the ball in your right hand. Step forward with your left foot, simultaneously dribbling the ball once with your right hand. As you begin to step with your right foot, lift the ball in your right hand and, rather than dribbling it on your right side as you did on your first dribble, slightly cup the ball, and move it behind your back in a circular, descending angle. Do this in such a way that the ball will touch the floor directly outside your left thigh. As the ball is about to hit the floor, you should be stepping forward with your left foot, and preparing to move the ball behind your back again. In essence, one dribble to your right, behind the back, one dribble to your left, behind the back, etc.
This drill is predicated on your body achieving a fluency of motion allowing you to comfortably move the ball back and forth.
Keys to Effectiveness:
Make sure not to place your palm directly beneath the ball when moving the ball behind you, because this is an illegal infraction, and the referee will whistle you for carrying the ball. Make sure your hand remains on the outside of the ball as you move it, ensuring that you do not illegally “lift” or carry the ball.
Though he’s been retired for a long time, Magic Johnson perfected this move. Nobody else even comes close. He was the master.
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