For the young men and women really looking to improve their game, an obvious remedy, but one that is not used enough, is the ability to create scoring opportunities using your less dominant hand (your “off-hand” from here on out).

Kids today use their dominant hand so much in all things (writing, eating, texting, video games, etc.), and in all the sports they play, that it becomes difficult to teach and develop their off-hand.  In the game of basketball the use of an off-hand is so critical, it literally can enhance an individual’s game twice over.  For example: if a young player is right handed, and can only dribble to his or her right, and likewise can only produce scoring opportunities going right, HALF of their potential isn’t being reached.  A smart coach noticing a player can only dribble with any length to the right, will tell his defense to not let that player go right… EVER.  Now what is the player to do? Become frustrated, force bad plays, and in essence become ineffective.  A player who can only make offensive moves in one direction, at some point, will become reactive to what the defense is doing, instead of making the defense react to their movements.

There’s no doubt that young kids, like college and NBA players, have tendencies that they use because they are good at them and see success when said tendencies are used (like a patented move, or a favorite spot on the floor, i.e. Tim Duncan being isolated on the left block).  These tendencies will not be taken away by learning to use an off-hand, but actually made better.  Think about Mr. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with his patented skyhook.  Not only was that shot virtually unguardable, but when teams did double team him to try and take away the hook, Kareem had perfected a drop step counter move (using his off-hand) on the left block that made him untouchable.  These were his bread and butter moves, and allowed him to become the greatest scorer in NBA history.  For an offensive player it’s crucial to keep your defender guessing, and when you have the ability to go left just as well as to the right, or vice versa, you become a force to be reckoned with.  The off-hand, and the moves perfected by it, complement and increase your game in ways that can take anyone to another level.

So, how do we develop an off-hand?  It comes in time, and believe it or not will get better naturally (hand eye coordination, much like physically growing, improves and matures naturally over time for young athletes).  But dexterity can be increased immensely with correct ball handling and shooting drills, and a nose-to-the-grindstone, diligent work ethic (going game speed is always a plus!).

In summation: a young athlete should always think about dribbling/finishing at the rim/passing twice as much with their off-hand as with their dominant hand.  If you want to become twice the player you are, develop a steadfast mindset to do this EVERY SINGLE TIME you’re working on your game!

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