Player Development: Changing Pace With The Dribble

By John Leonzo

A common trait shared by all effective guards in the game today is the ability to change speeds. Changing speeds has many benefits:

  • Creates indecision for the defender
  • Puts the ball handler back in control
  • Allows extra time for decision-making
  • Promotes control
  • Keeps off ball defenders drawn to the ball

I recently made a new video showcasing how John Wall makes a living off changing speeds. You can view the video below:

Here are the skill keys to teach when using this move:

Dribble Hesitation:

  • Approach the defender
  • Take a hard pound dribble
  • Float one or two steps in the direction of the pound dribble
  • As you float, raise your shoulders slightly while elevating your eyes and chin to the rim
  • Quickly drop your body level from high to below the defenders shoulders
  • Get the ball out in front of your body and get your shoulders forward
  • Scrape the side of the defender as you go by to play in a straight line and cut off the recovery angle

Dribble Hesitation and Cross:

  • Approach the defender
  • Take a hard pound dribble
  • Float one or two steps in the direction of the pound dribble
  • As you float, raise your shoulders slightly while elevating your eyes and chin to the rim
  • As you float, read your defender. If the defender remains chest to chest then you…
  • Quickly drop your body level from high to below the defenders shoulders
  • Cross the ball over violently from knee to knee
  • Get the ball out in front of your body and get your shoulders forward
  • Scrape the side of the defender as you go by to play in a straight line and cut off the recovery angle

Dribble Hesitation and Shoot:

  • Approach the defender
  • Take a hard pound dribble
  • Float one or two steps in the direction of the pound dribble
  • As you float, raise your shoulders slightly while elevating your eyes and chin to the rim
  • Read your defender as you float, if the defender backs up then you…
  • Quickly drop your body level and step or hop into a shooting stance
  • Drive both legs into the ground, elevating straight upwards
  • Release the ball with your elbow above eye-level and your pointer finger at the rim

Here are some drills that flow in a progression for the athlete to work on as they are learning how to perform these moves:

Drill #1: Dribble Hesitation Series Full Court

Hesitation

Step 1: Have the player line up on the baseline with a basketball in hand.

Step 2: Have the player speed dribble from line to line on the court, stopping each time to perform a dribble hesitation move

Step 3: Repeat going down and back for 2 minutes

Step 4: Use this for the following moves: dribble hesitation, dribble hesitation crossover

I like this drill to start because it lets the athlete feel the movement prior to using a guided defender or adding in the extra interference of a shot to finish it. Another benefit is that the athlete is performing the move over and over, allowing them time to self-correct.

Drill #2: Guided Defender Dribble Hesitation Series

Guided

Step 1: Player has ball out by the volleyball line and will dribble attack right at the coach

Step 2: As the player approaches the coach, the player will begin their hesitation move

Step 3: As the player is floating in their move, the coach will give one of the following three cues:

  • Freeze and raise up = player blows by
  • Slide and stay chest to chest = player finishes the hesitation move with a crossover
  • Back up = player drops and shoots

Step 4: Repeat this drill on the opposite side

Additional Notes: Go for 6 minutes continuously while providing feedback on the fly to the player. Once the 6 minutes is up, question the player and then provide feedback on how to enhance the drill and move. Repeat the drill one last time.

Drill #3: Fosters 1v1

Fosters

Set-Up: x1 begins on the free-throw line with the ball. Player one is on offense and starts at the TOK without the ball. There is a cone at half court as well as a cone at each wing.

Step 1: x1 tosses the ball to 1. 1 dribble sprints around the cone at half-court, and x1 runs around a cone at either wing

Step 2: 1 attacks x1 and tries to score. Players switch offensive and defensive spots after each possession.

Scoring: All baskets are worth 1 point unless a score is preceded by a change of pace movement (in which case the basket is worth 2). Play to 10.

I hope that this was a helpful post on how to teach and inculcate the skill of changing pace with the dribble. There are many other ways to change pace with the dribble and many other situations in which a change of pace can occur, but this should provide a good foundation upon which you can build and adapt your own ideas on.

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John Leonzo

John Leonzo

John Leonzo is the CEO of John Leonzo Basketball where he seeks to provide the highest quality training for both players and coaches. Through on the court training with players and online courses for coaches, John is able to make an impact in all the areas of the game.
John Leonzo

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March 21, 2016 – Atlanta, GA, USA – Washington Wizards guard John Wall steals from Atlanta Hawks guard Jeff Teague on Monday, March 21, 2016, in Atlanta. The Wizards beat the Hawks 117-102. (Credit Image: � Curtis Compton/TNS via ZUMA Wire)
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