On the Ball: A Guide to Beginning Ball Handing Skills

by Chris Chapan

Learning ball skills are essential for teaching any sport. In the following article, I would like to share some tips and games that you can use when you are teaching ball handling skills to children. Ball skills mostly consist of simple movements executed in multiple steps. Multiple tasks skills consist of hand-eye skills throwing, catching, bouncing, dribble, rolling, kicking, trapping, and dribbling. Tasks can also be done with a bat, hockey stick, or another sports instrument.

When working with groups of children with ball skills work in groups of two and not more than four taking turns with one ball. This helps students make frequent contact with the ball.

There are various types of balls. Some of them include whiffle balls, sponge, rubber, yarn, bean and fleece balls. Different types of balls teach grabbing, throwing hitting using various weights, sizes, surfaces, and designs. Activities done outside and inside can also show have different environments can affect ball handing skills.

  • Directional Roll

Students must learn to effectively how to roll a ball first. With your hands have the student place the ball on the floor and roll between their legs. Roll the ball in various directions, shapes, making numbers. Figure eights work nicely around the legs. Put the ball with various body parts such as above the head, roll the ball down the arm, behind tieback and down the arm and around the lower and the upper body. Roll the ball toward your partner and aim it toward your friend’s hands. It is also helpful to roll the ball and identify various parts of your body as you roll them from one body part to another such as head, neck, hands, and torso.

  • Inside roll

Roll the ball to the inside of your body, using the sole of one foot. Try to position the sole of the foot on the ball towards the outside edge of your foot, so that the ball rotates just enough to allow you to put your rolling foot down briefly. Try to keep the ball so that you can keep moving in the same direction. Repeat, going in the opposite direction with the other foot.

  • Outside roll

Roll the ball towards the outside of your body, using the sole of one foot. Try to position the sole of the foot on the ball towards the inside edge, so that the ball rotates just enough to allow you to put your rolling foot down briefly so that you can keep moving in the same direction. Repeat, going in the opposite direction with the other foot. Rolling to a friend is another good skill to practice with using the inside and the outside of your foot.

  • Bunny Jumps

Have groups of three. Two people stand six giant steps apart and face the player who has a ball. The ball person throws the ball and then the middle and farthest person jumps on the ball as it rolls toward you. Make sure you play this game with a soft surface in case someone falls.

  • Dribbling

Dribbling is another skill. It is important that the person dribble accurately in place and then moving in a specified area. Dribbling is controlling the movement of the ball with the feet and hands. The ball is tapped and dragged to cover space or to changing directions. All parts of the foot are utilized when dribbling. Throwing from accuracy comes next. Bouncing with both hands and then bounce in different parts of the body. For added practice, close eyes when bouncing and catching. Use one hand bounce and continue to bounce at different lengths such as low, high and middle. Then it is important that the child to catch the ball a number of times.

  • Shadow Dribbling

Have players pair up, each player with a ball. Leader dribbles while second player follows, also dribbling. Remind players to keep their heads up. Encourage creative dribbling - changes in direction, pace, and technique. Stress control and change leaders frequently.

  • Hot Rocks

Throw and catch a ball against the wall and catch the return after one bounce. Practice different kinds of two-handed, one-handed, overhead, side and chest level. Throw a ball against the wall. Use two balls, pass back and forth with balls going to opposite directions, and have the partners catch and toss in between.

  • Musical Balls

Your players, each with their own ball, dribble around a large grid. They should be moving at a decent pace, avoiding each other, and keeping their heads up.After they have been dribbling for a while, call out the word "CHANGE."  When you do this each player must stop their ball, leave it where it is, and run around the circle looking for another ball. It is important they get to new balls right away and continue dribbling.

After allowing them to get comfortable with the concept of the drill, remove one player's ball.  This player now must run around the drill without a ball.  When the next "Change" comes about that person must try to find a ball leaving another player without a ball to dribble.

Any player who does not end up with a ball after a "Change" has to run round the grid. Just be careful that the same player does not lose out every time.

  • Catching

Practicing Catch is another essential ball skill. Students should have practice throwing and catching the ball not only in the air but also on the floor. In the following paragraph, I will give some ideas for using various catching drills.

  • Ready?

When passing the ball always says to the person, you are throwing to if they are ready. It signals the other player to the presence of the ball and keeps the thrower on task. After a while, it becomes a habit with most children.

  • Passing

Passing is kicking or throwing the ball to another teammate or into a strategic in a balanced period. Proper technique is the key to good accurate passing. Look up to find your target but remember to look at the ball as you strike it. Be sure, when you are passing to keep on moving. In a sports’ game who knows where the ball will come next. Remind especially younger children to focus on the pass when passing it.

  • Name Game

The name game is a great way to introduce players to one another. Say the name of a person or a letter from the alphabet and have that particular person catch that ball.
  • Shooting

Kicking the ball with the intent to score is a goal is called shooting. The shooting optimizes power and accuracy. The kicking motion involves the hip and kick technique for shooting is different from for passing. Generally, the top of the food and the toe is pointed down and the ankle is locked. The non- striking foot is on the side of the ball. Students should strike the middle of the ball. And the knee of the kicking should be over the ball. A child’s head should be down and eye should be on the ball. Pick out your target and focus on it.

  • Throwing

Throwing is another important ball skill. Underhand throwing is good for children who are just beginning skills of throwing. Overhand is good for learning to learn fine motor skills and specialized dexterity. Overhand throwing techniques are important. Some of those skills include: hand behind ears, steps with opposite feet, then follows, and reaches together.
  • Trash Mash

A good game to get kids ready for basketball is to have them throw a ball or piece of rolled up paper into a clean trashcan. After they have mastered throwing the ball to a close spot, increase the challenge by having them step progressively farther away from it.


Creativity is also important when doing ball skills. Younger children should be encouraged to use balls in a creative yet controlled way. This will help them learn how to change speed and directions and retain control of the ball are applying their techniques in a creative way. Players who can move their bodies from side to side in an effort to unbalance a defender are showing signs of creativity.

Ball skills teach many lifelong skills. Some of those skills include learning direction, patterning learning to work with others. What a wonderful lesson to learn for life.

Workouts That Work
September 11, 2001