Having a strong weak hand is critical. Being able to dribble, pass, and shoot with both hands makes you a more versatile and difficult player to defend. Improving your weak hand skills can also help you become a more confident and consistent player overall. In short, your goal as a player should be to make everything you do with your weak hand as good as doing it with your strong hand. As NBA Phoenix Suns’ guard Chris Paul said, “Having a strong weak hand is crucial.. It allows you to be more versatile and unpredictable on the court. When you can handle and shoot the ball effectively with both hands, it makes you a more difficult player to defend against.” So today we’ll take a look at how to train your weak hand in basketball.
The short answer to success with your weak hand is to do everything you do with your strong hand, with your off hand. That can be as simple as using your weak hand for everyday tasks, such as eating, typing on a computer, opening doors, and playing on your phone. This will help you develop coordination and dexterity.
When it comes to hoops, you should specifically practice ball handling and shooting drills with your weak hand to develop confidence and range. You can also put your off-hand to the test in game-like situations such as games of one vs. one. Finally, you should incorporate weak hand exercises into your weight training routine to build strength and control.
The quickest way we’ve found to develop your off hand is to create a simple warm up routine you do every time you hit the court, that involves completing the same dribbling and shooting with both hands. That way, every day, guaranteed, you’re working on your off hand. Let’s jump into some specific basketball drills you can do with your off-hand, and you can pick which to put into your own routine to get you comfortable for play.
Grab your best outdoor or indoor basketball and hit the court to try out these drills today. (If you need a new ball, we recommend the Evolution – size 7 for men, 6 for women, 5 for kids.) Here are a few drills that you can use to improve your weak-hand dribbling.
Dribble around the exterior of the court using only your weak hand. Get in at least 5 loops. As you get more comfortable, try to change your direction more frequently: get in at least 3 loops where you change direction three times.
Advanced variation: Get a partner and make it a race to see who can get around the court fastest with their off hand. Or time yourself and beat your first time.
Staying stationary dribble the ball super high with your weak hand (try to get up to your shoulders) for 15 seconds and then do ball taps dribbling the ball super low with your weak hand for 15 seconds. Do this for a minute. Check out skills trainer Ryan Razooky demonstrating here:
Dribble the ball through and around your legs in a figure 8 pattern, alternating between your strong and weak hand. Watch as NBA Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley demonstrates how to do this.
Start at the baseline and dribble to the free throw line and back using your weak hand. Then, dribble to the half court line and back. Finally, dribble to the other end of the court and back. Time yourself, and then beat your time on the next rep. Do this three times.
Everybody loves a game! Find a partner and play tag in a confined area such as the lane. You can both only dribble with your weak hand. See who wins.
Dribble around the court using your weak hand, and this time practice finishing at the basket with your weak hand, each time down the court. Try to get three makes in a row before you finish.
Work on weak hand passes with a partner including bounce passes, chest passes, and even the hook pass. Get three successful hits for each pass. Then make it harder. Hang dribble in place, sending the ball back and forth between your strong and weak hand, and have someone call out pass whenever they want. Regardless of the hand the ball is in at that time, your goal is to get the pass off as quick as possible. Here skills trainer Ryan Razooky demonstrates the hook pass if you’re not sure what it should look like:
This is another one for the advanced hoopers. Use only your weak hand to get into weak-hand layups trying to be as creative as you can with your setup moves. Here skills trainer Tyler Leclerc’s hoopers demonstrate.
Play 1 vs. 1 up to 5 points, and every point scored with your off hand earns double the points.
Here are a few drills that you can use to improve your weak hand shooting.
Start close to the basket and practice making layups with your weak hand. You can do the Mikan drill as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar demonstrates here. Or do a few touch under the rim layups and extended finish layups. Try to get 5 makes in a row on each. Here skills trainer Cole Sabers demonstrates these layup finishes to try.
Advanced layup drills variation: Start at the foul line and do a combo move then drive and do an underhand scoop finish with your off hand; do the same thing with an extended finish using your weak hand; same handles and floater finish with the off hand.
Now that you’ve made some layups, it’s time to work on your off-hand shooting form. Stand in the lane close to the basket and shoot roll-up form shots with your weak hand. This is where you start with the ball on your mid-thigh and roll it up towards your stomach with your left arm, then flip it up into your shot form and shoot. Watch this video by trainer Joerik Michaels’ players to see how form shooting is done if you’ve never tried it.
For this drill start around the foul line. You’re going to hit a floater with your off hand. Practice until you get three makes in a row. Then switch to facing towards the sidline, and make three floaters in a row again with your off hand. Basically follow this CJ McCollum floater warm up routine, but with your off hand.
Play shooting games using your weak hand, such as Around the World or Horse. To play Around the World you just use each mark around the lane as a place to shoot from: the bottom boxes, mid way between the boxes and the foul line, foul line corners, and mid foul. It’s 7 total shots. The player needs to make one shot at each spot, and keeps shooting as long as they make it. Once they miss, it’s someone else’s turn. Whoever completes the series first wins.
This drill is best with a partner. Offense starts at the foul line corner, defense starts at the basketball hoop pole. Defense has to touch the opposite lane block and then can rush over to defend. Offense has to hit the middle of the foul line, before they’re allowed to try to score. All scoring must be done with the left hand. This is a great way to practice off hand layups.
Improving your weak hand skills in basketball takes time. The major key is to be consistent with your training. With practice, you will become more comfortable and confident using your weak hand on the court. And you’ll reap all the benefits including increased versatility and confidence as a player, and the ability to better handle and shoot the ball in game situations! Be like the WNBA’s Washington Mystics’ power forward Elena Delle Donne, who said, “Having a strong weak hand is so important in this game because it allows you to be more versatile and unpredictable on the court. It’s something I’ve always worked on and it’s paid off for me in terms of my ball handling and shooting ability.” Up next, find out how to get more playing time or try some pivot drills to get better at creating space.