Does Dribbling A Tennis Ball Help With Basketball?

Tennis and basketball don’t have a ton in common, but both of these sports feature a bouncy ball! Apparently, that fact got a few basketball players thinking, “Is there any benefit to training with a tennis ball rather than a basketball?” Since tennis balls are so much smaller than an average basketball, it makes sense it would improve handling...right? Or is dribbling with a tennis ball just a fun fad that adds a little variety to your training? If you’re interested in whether training with a tennis ball positively affects basketball dribbling, then this is the post for you. 

Adding a tennis ball to your training routine can improve your basketball dribbling skills. Since tennis balls are so much smaller than an average basketball, it will force you to add extra concentration to your exercises. Many basketball players also use tennis balls while dribbling regular basketballs to add additional complexity. If you practice consistently, using a tennis ball can strengthen your basketball dribbling skills. 

Dribbling with a tennis ball is way more complicated than just dribbling with a basketball—hence it’s a valuable training technique. However, even advanced basketball players have difficulties incorporating tennis balls into their routines. Please review the strategies below to determine how best to use a tennis ball for your skill level. 

A close up, wide angle, low viewpoint image of a professional male basketball player, dressed in red basketball uniform running and dribbling a basketball, Does Dribbling A Tennis Ball Help With Basketball?

Is It Good To Dribble With A Tennis Ball For Basketball?

Dribbling with a tennis ball is a great way to improve your basketball handling and hand-eye coordination. If you feel comfortable dribbling a tennis ball while standing still, try walking across the court while dribbling the tennis ball in one hand.

As you get more advanced, try switching your tennis ball while dribbling across the court. Both of these simple moves are great for increasing your dribbling skills. 

Tennis Ball

You could make these drills even more challenging by adding another tennis ball to your routine. Experienced players could try switching between these tennis balls while making their way across the court.

While it’s fun to get creative with these exercises, please remember to master the basics before moving on to special tricks. You need to establish a solid foundation to get the most out of these exercises. 

How Do You Use Tennis Balls For Basketball Dribbling Drills?

Lots of vibrant tennis balls, pattern of new tennis balls for background

There are countless ways players use tennis balls while practicing dribbling, but one of the most common is to bounce a basketball and tennis ball simultaneously. When you start, try to grab the tennis ball while maintaining a consistent dribble. As you get better at this skill, you could alternate your basketball and tennis ball on the fly. 

To make this first exercise more challenging, throw the tennis ball in the air and catch it before it lands on the ground. Don’t forget to keep dribbling that basketball while concentrating on your tennis ball! 

When you feel confident in these stationary movements, you could try moving across the court with both your tennis ball and basketball. One great way to do this is to toss the tennis ball slightly before you while dribbling the basketball. As soon as the tennis ball hits the ground, sprint to catch that tennis ball. This exercise is phenomenal for working on your sprinting skills. 

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You can find a video demonstration of these exercises and more below:

Is It Harder To Dribble A Smaller Basketball?

The smaller a basketball is, the more challenging it will be to dribble. Many basketball players deliberately train with smaller basketballs to add difficulty to their practice sessions. There’s less room for error with a smaller ball, so you will inevitably build greater coordination the more you practice. Once you return to a normal-sized ball, it should feel significantly easier to handle on the court.

Man on basketball court dribbling with ball.

If you’re new to training with small basketballs, it’s best to work your way down gradually. Find the basketball that’s one notch smaller than the one you’re currently using and start training with it. As you get comfortable with this basketball, search out a smaller model and continue until you get to a tennis ball.

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By the way, you may want to check out our post on “How Long Do Basketballs Last” to figure out the average longevity of your basketball. 

Is There Any Benefit To Using A Large Basketball?

Man on a basketball court

While training with a small basketball has many advantages, don’t discount using a heavy basketball on the court. Rather than refining coordination, heavy basketballs will force your muscles to go into overdrive. The more you use a large basketball, the quicker you’ll strengthen your arm muscles and wrists.

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How Long Should I Practice Dribbling?

Determining your ideal dribbling training routine largely depends on your goals. If you’re serious about upping your game, you should strive to work on light dribbling every day and more intense endurance conditioning for at least 30 minutes four times per week. However, some people hit the gym for hour-long sessions five times per week.

To get good at dribbling, you need to make it a daily habit. Try your best to dribble with a basketball or a tennis ball every day in a relaxed position. You want your dribbling to become second nature. 

The best way to determine your ideal training schedule is to speak with a basketball coach. Working with a personal trainer will help you use your training time wisely to address your weaknesses. 

For more info on how long you should be dribbling, please watch this video:

How Can I Practice Dribbling At Home?

There are dozens of ways you could dribble at home, but you have to double-check you’re in a room where it’s safe to use your basketball. If you don’t have enough space outside, consider practicing your dribbling skills in the garage or a room where there’s nothing breakable. 

Once you’ve found a safe space to practice dribbling, you should sit at the edge of a chair with your feet at a ninety-degree angle. Start by dribbling your basketball on the right side close to the ground for about 50 reps and then move to the left for 50 more reps. 

After working your fingertips, you could move your basketball back and forth between your legs about 50 times. Feel free to vary the size of these crossovers to add variety to this movement. 

Another popular seated exercise is to dribble your ball in a figure-eight pattern while swinging your legs side to side. As always, consider performing this move backward once you gain enough skill.

Some players also like to dribble their ball under their knees, grab it, and bring it around the top of their knees. The idea here is you’re forming a circle around your knees; hence, this move is often called “around the world.” 

You can find explanations of all these simple at-home moves on this YouTube video:

If you’re curious about setting up a basketball court for home practice, then be sure to read through our post on the “Average Cost Of An At-Home Basketball Court.” 

How Can I Improve My Ball Handling Without Dribbling?

If you can’t dribble your basketball while at home, there are ways you could still practice ball handling without dribbling. 

For starters, you could toss your ball back and forth between two hands in quick movements. This simple move will put light pressure on your wrist and fingers, which will strengthen them over time. Many coaches use this movement as a warm-up. 

Another great way to practice ball handling without dribbling is to wrap the basketball around each leg and your waist while standing in a wide stance. Start by wrapping the basketball around the left leg, go around your waist, and move to your right leg. You can reverse direction at any moment to provide extra complexity.

Another great move to practice ball handling is to stand with your feet together and wrap the basketball around your legs, then your torso, then your head. Keep moving up and down in this movement and occasionally change direction. 

To learn how to perform these moves and more, you’ve got to check out this training routine:

Tennis Ball Or Not, Dribble With Whatever You’ve Got!

Using a tennis ball is a great way to improve your basketball dribbling skills. Plus, since tennis balls are cheap and easy to fit in your pocket, you could get in some dribbling practice while you’re on the move! Just remember that consistency is crucial no matter what basketball skill you’re practicing. Please stick to your recommended training routine, and you should see the results you’re after!

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