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How to Improve Your Basketball Grip

By Kim Nunley

Having enough grip strength to palm a basketball is beneficial beyond impressing teammates and opponents. A stronger grip improves your basketball handling abilities and allows you to dribble, shoot and pass with greater control. Use strength training exercises, medicine ball passes, basketball grip drills and basic grip exercises that you can fit in at any time of the day to make significant developments in your basketball grip.

Strength Training Exercises

Use strength training exercises that target the muscles in your hands and fingers to get a stronger grip on a basketball. Two to three days per week, incorporate fingertip pushups, towel grip pullups and the pinch plate farmer’s walk into your regimen. Fingertip pushups are similar to regular pushups, except that rather than your palms being on the floor, you hold yourself up with your fingertips. Complete three sets of 15 to 20 reps. Towel grip pullups are similar to close-grip pullups, but you wrap towels around the bar at shoulder width and grasp the ends of the towels with your hands. Complete three sets of 10 to 15 reps. For the pinch plate farmer’s walk, grasp the edges of heavy weighted plates in each of your hands between your fingers and thumb. Walk 50 yards three times with the weights held by your side.

Medicine Ball Passes

Medicine balls are effective at improving basketball grip, because they’re round like a basketball but are heavier so your hands have to squeeze harder when holding them. Build basketball-specific grip strength by playing catch with a partner. Passing and catching will be more challenging to the muscles in your hands and fingers with the heavier ball. Throw chest passes, overhead passes and bounce passes if the medicine ball you're using has the elasticity to bounce. For a bigger challenge, use a smaller-size medicine ball and toss a ball up to yourself and catch it with one hand and with your palm facing the floor. Perform three sets of 25 reps of each type of pass.

Basketball Grip Drills

If you don’t have access to weight equipment or medicine balls, you can build your grip strength using a basketball itself. Perform ball squeezes, which involve gripping and squeezing the basketball as hard as you can with both hands. Practice squeezing and holding the ball out with one hand, or palming it. Hold the ball tight with both hands as a partner slaps at the ball, trying to knock it away. Once you’re able to palm the ball, have a partner gently continue to knock the ball free while you work to maintain control of it with one hand.

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Basic Grip Exercises

If you’re looking to make serious gains in your grip strength that you can do throughout the day while you’re at work or in class, perform the tennis ball squeeze and spring collar squeeze exercises. For the tennis ball squeeze, hold a tennis ball in one hand and squeeze it as hard as you can. Relax a moment and then repeat, completing a total of 25 reps with each hand. The spring collar squeeze requires a spring grip strengthener, which you can find at most athletic equipment stores. The spring in the hand strengthener provides resistance against your fingers as you squeeze it as hard as possible, performing 25 reps with each hand.

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