Developing Quickness and Power to Master the Crossover Dribble

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As a guard, what's better than nailing the crossover dribble, catching your defender back on his heels and blowing by him to the hole?

The move looks simple, right? But it is not that easy to perfect. OK, guys like Allen Iverson, Tim Hardaway and Derrick Rose have mastered it, and you may lack their natural talent. But you can develop your crossover dribble—by practicing the move [obviously], but also by enhancing your athleticism, improving your ability to change direction and harnessing your lower body rotational power.

Perform the following crossover drills to work these areas.

The Zigzag Drill, from Speed Strength Systems owner Tim Robertson Jr., incorporates the use of a basketball to improve quickness, agility and change of direction. Robertson says, "You can dribble with the same hand throughout the drill, switch hands after each cone, crossover dribble, behind the back, between the legs, whenever you get to a cone and transition from one cone to another."  Another variation is to alternate sprinting and laterally shuffling: sprint and dribble between the first two cones, then laterally shuffle and dribble between the next two.

Crossover Drills

Zigzag Drill

Set up cones in the following pattern from baseline to baseline on a basketball court:

  • Start at first cone; sprint and dribble to second cone
  • Breakdown and cut around second cone; sprint to next cone
  • Continue for entire pattern

Sets/Reps: 1x5-10; perform twice a week

Coaching Points: Move through the drill at full speed // At the cones, lower your center of gravity and make quick, precise cuts // Make sure you get three quality dribbles on each move to a cone

Harness your lower body power with Lunges. "Multi-Angular Lunges are an ideal way to strengthen all of the muscles of the legs and hips in a very functional way," says DeMatha Catholic High School strength and conditioning coach Alan Stein. "When you blow by a guy, you are actually in a Lunge position for a split second."

There are many Lunge variations, but here are two prime examples:

Clock Lunge Series

  • Step out as far as possible
  • Keep opposite foot down when pushing back with front foot
  • Stay balanced throughout set
  • Perform lunges to 12 o'clock, 3 o'clock, 6 o'clock and 9 o'clock positions
  • Perform set clockwise on one leg, then repeat on other
  • Repeat counterclockwise on each leg

Sets/Reps: 3x each leg, each direction

Lateral Lunge

  • Stand with feet shoulder distance apart
  • Extend right leg out to side and sit down through the hip
  • Pushing off right heel, return to starting position

Sets/Reps: 2-3x each leg

Coaching Points: Don't overextend knee past foot // Keep chest up

According to Xtraordinary Sports Performance owner Erick Land, to change directions abruptly, an athlete must be able to explode through the hips by first reducing the force of the initial movement toward the opponent, then exploding and applying force in the other direction. Land recommends these two rotation-based exercises to condition your body to reduce and produce force.


This exercise activates the glutes and hips, and also strengthens the piriformis, the muscle responsible for rotation within the hips.

  • With a Thera-Band wrapped above knees, lie on side with back against wall, feet together and knees bent at 90-degree angle
  • Push knees apart, rotating top knee up and toward wall
  • Return to start position; repeat for specified reps
  • Perform on opposite side

Sets/Reps: 3x10 each side

Coaching Points: Keep feet straight and on top of each other // Press bottom glute against wall

One-Arm Row With Rotation

This is an explosive movement that conditions the body to properly distribute weight for efficient change of direction.

  • Stand with cable machine set to low position at left
  • Assume Lunge position with left leg forward and right knee just above ground
  • Reach across body with right arm and grab handle
  • Push off left heel, explode through hips and rotate right while pulling cable
  • Finish with hips pointed away from machine and right hand at waist with elbow tight to side
  • Return to start position; repeat for specified reps
  • Perform to opposite side

Sets/Reps: 2-3x12-15 each side

Coaching Points: Maintain athletic base // Initiate movement through hips // Keep chest up, shoulders back and core tight


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock