Drive through any neighborhood in Texas and you’ll see parents out shooting hoops with their kids. Basketball remains one of the most popular family activities. Parents get to spend quality time with their kids while teaching them the skills they need to shine on the basketball court. Teaching your kid to shoot hoops is great, but if you really want them to have an edge on the courts, teaching them to dribble is a must. Dribbling is one of the foundations needed for good basketball skills. After all, a player spends more time dribbling than shooting hoops. Most kids focus on shooting hoops because it’s more fun than dribbling drills. Dribbling lacks the instant gratification of sinking a basket. That doesn’t mean, however, that parents can’t make dribbling drills a fun part of their child’s basketball practice. The classic dribbling drill is the double dribble, where the player dribbles two balls, one with each hand, at the same time and the same speed. With regular practice, double dribbling builds coordination and control. Trouble is, learning to double dribble frustrates many young players. Practicing together helps, so grab four balls, not two. Double drill together, encouraging each other to do better. As you both get better, start changing the height you bounce the balls, alter your hand positions and change the dribble speed. Dribbling while standing still is one skill. Dribbling while running is quite another. Challenge your kid to dribble the ball all the way down the court without losing control. As his dribbling improves, have him reduce the number of dribbles he needs to clear the court. The old figure eight dribble is another classic dribbling drill, and can be as frustrating to a young player as learning to double dribble. During a figure eight you dribble the ball around one leg and under the leg. Switch to the other hand when the ball goes between your legs and dribble around the other leg. Repeat. The figure eight dribble is quite a complex action for a young player, and may well be beyond younger kids. Show them how to do it, encourage them to try, and don’t take the drill too seriously. Laughing at your own mistakes and continuing shows your child that it’s okay to make mistakes when you’re learning something new. Cheering, praise and support aren’t optional for this drill. It may seem like a simple thing, but few kids develop this type of control naturally. The kid who can consistently control the ball while moving is well on her way to becoming a talented player. Whenever possible, think of drills that you can do with your child. You’re not just building basketball skills by passing the ball back and forth while dribbling from one net to the other. You’re also building memories. With the sharp rise in childhood obesity, physical activity is more important than ever. The Dallas News reports that Texas ranks thirteenth in the nation for obesity. Basketball provides a cardiovascular workout that keeps kids and adults healthy. References: Breakthrough Basketball. (2011). Basic youth basketball drills for 7, 8, 9 year old boys. Retrieved 21 March, 2011, from http://www.breakthroughbasketball.com/qa/q4-basicyouthdrills.html Lonoño, T. (2010). The best youth basketball drills for kids of all ages. Retrieved 21 March, 2011, from http://sports.yahoo.com/mls/news?slug=ac-7048082 Robertson, J. (2010). Texas has 13th highest rate of obesity in U.S., study says. Retrieved 22 March, 2011, from http://www.dallasnews.com/health/headlines/20100629-Texas-has-13th-highest-rate-of-3542.ece Sidebar: Basketball Camps Basketball camps remain a popular summer activity for kids, despite the siren call of the Xbox 360. Unless parents act early in the year, however, they may find that the best basketball camps are already full. Registration for basketball camps begins early in the year, and by Memorial Day many of the best camps have filled all available slots. Unless you want your kids to settle for second-best or, worse yet, spend summer plugged into the Xbox, look into basketball camp registration in the spring.