How to Learn to Shoot, Dribble, and Pass with Both Hands

Improve Your Dribbling Dexterity

Boy (9-1) preparing to shoot basketball, rear view
Boy (9-1) preparing to shoot basketball, rear view. joSon/ GettyImages

When I tried out for my first basketball team, I was a sophomore in high school. I started my basketball career at a late age.

I had speed and quickness, but my dribbling abilities needed some work. I tended to always drive to the right side of the basket. Players always forced me to go left. I could not dribble to that direction well, and I couldn't shoot left handed. It was a major weakness in my game. In order to improve, I practiced and played for several hours each day, as my dream was to play high school basketball.

A month before tryouts started, I jammed two of the fingers on my right hand pretty severely. Typically that is not a terrible injury, but to a predominately right-handed player, it was devastating. I was not about to give up, though. I knew I would be limited in tryouts and began a workout schedule to prepare for it.

I Started to Strengthen My Left-Hand Step By Step

I dribbled every day left handed. If I walked down the street, if I dribbled in the driveway, or dribbled anywhere, I would use my left hand. Even if I walked to school, I would bring my ball with me and dribble left handed.

When I practiced, I would not only dribble left handed, but shoot left handed as well. First I would shoot left handed lay-ups off the square above the basket.

I broke it down into steps. I would start a few feet away from the basket, take one step forward off with my right foot and aim off the square left handed. I would be sure to kick my left leg up high (my shooting foot so to speak), so I would jump off my right leg and be balanced. I would do this time after time until it became less awkward. The first step, right foot forward, kick off the left leg, so you are jumping off your right foot, and shooting left handed. Aim for the square on the backboard and follow through left handed.

At first, I would walk in a few steps at a time and then eventually run in. It started to feel comfortable, so I tried other things left handed. I started shooting all around the basket left handed. I started from five feet out until I gradually could shoot from as far as ten feet out. I would practice my form shooting on a wall and aim for a target. I also tried left-handed hook shots.

Moves With And Without The Dribble

I always had a strong jab step move to the left and could drive to the right side of the basket. I could also switch hands left handed to the right, and dribble with an inside-out move left to right. I was becoming impressed with my own "left handed game" and started doing the opposite of right-handed moves. Jab step right, go left. Switch hands right to the left and dribble inside to the right side and go left. 

Start Slow and Go Both Ways

It was key to start slow, one practice step at a time. Get the mechanics first and the footwork, and then complete the move. I also kept shooting on that lower wall to strengthen my left hand.

It started to become obvious to me that this made it so I could drive either way with either hand. I could take whatever the defense gave me. Once my right hand healed, I became a double threat. The left-hand hook was particularly effective when I played friends one on one.

Now Expand Your Game

Next, I started trying to pass the ball left handed. It seemed to catch defenders by surprise if I could dribble left handed and pass to an open player using my left hand rather than bring the ball to my right hand. It seemed to give me a little extra time to pass off the left-handed dribble with my left hand before the defense was ready. Still, though, my left hand wasn't as strong as it needed to be. I made the team, and my coach told me to do everything left handed, not just basketball related but day to day activities.

Here are some things I tried to do to become a right and left handed player:

What You Can Do Day To Day

• Open doors by grabbing the door knob left handed
• Eat holding your fork and spoon left handed 
• Shake hands left handed 
• Reach for things left handed and grab and hold things left handed
• Draw left handed 

The list goes on, and you can add more. 

What is the result of this little story? I had some interesting things to do day to day as a left-handed person, and my game improved. To this day I can dribble with either hand, shoot and pass with either hand and drive in whatever direction the defense gives me. 

This story isn't about me but demonstrates the array of things that can be done to become a better player. Of course, if you are left handed, do all of the above right handed to develop your right hand for the same reasons. They are so simple anyone can do them, even novice players.

As I improved, I also worked on all the regular dribbling drills, but I did them left and right handed. I broke the left-handed moves down into small practice steps and built up to them to became a much better player.