Get Better Handles With A Stronger Grip

Getting good handles is a two-part deal. On one hand, dexterity and dribbling is the most obvious skill to train. However, many basketball players don’t realize that the key to transferring the ball between their hands, palming it and keeping their guard arm up after a pass is possessing a strong grip. Finger strength is also important for more complex on-court moves, such as dunking at the rim. As such, exercising one’s hand is often the last thing on a player’s mind. Let’s change that. Give these five grip exercises a shot, and you’ll see measurable results next time you’re out on the court.

Kettlebell grips
Pick up a round kettlebell by the bottom, not the handle. It must be large enough to force you into a pinch grip, which only uses your fingertips and puts your thumb to work—rarely do the palms of professional basketball players make contact with the ball. Raise the kettlebell to about chest height and hold it for 30 seconds. Alternate hands for another 30 to complete the set, and repeat three times. This exercise will build endurance in your hand.

Medicine ball wall bounce
Again, find a medicine ball large enough to force you to use a pinch grip. Square up a few feet away from a wall and bounce the ball off it using a chest passing motion 10 times. Do the same for an overhead pass and a bounce pass, ensuring you use only the tips of your fingers to catch and to propel the ball. Catching underhand will also waste your effort. Repeat this set three times to complete the exercise. If you have a partner, you may do the same exercises passing the ball back and forth instead.

Wrist rollers
This classic exercise brings your entire forearms into the equation. Tie one end of a nylon rope to a weight plate (10 pounds should do at first) and tie the other to a pipe or one-hand barbell. Using both hands, twist the barbell so that the slackened rope rolls up onto it. The set doesn’t end when the rope’s gone; instead, rotate the rod the opposite direction to bring it back down in a controlled manner. Repeat the exercise for three sets.

Towel pull-ups
This modified pull-up uses towels to challenge your grip even more than the traditional exercise. To set up, wrap two towels over a pull-up bar about shoulder width apart. Take hold of one in each hand, then pull your body up until your chin is in line with the bar. Lower yourself in a controlled manner to complete the rep. Try three sets of 10 to begin with. In addition to strengthening your grip, towel pull-ups will substantially improve your strength in the forearms, upper back and biceps.

Fingertip push-ups
This exercise must be done with caution, as it can seriously mess your fingers up if done improperly. If you haven’t done any of the previous exercises, be sure to warm up and stretch your fingers. Enter a push-up position on the floor, but instead of using your palms, support your upper body with your fingertips. Spread them wide so that your first two knuckles come in contact with the ground, offering a wider base of support. From this position, perform three sets of 20 push-ups. If pain arises, stop immediately or switch to your palms for a set.


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