The Dribblepro (or Dribble Pro) Basketball Training Ball, both from Spalding and its black and red version are worth purchasing to improve your in-game dribbling. While the ball is supposed to help your dribbling, rebounding, and shooting, I think its value is more on the dribbling side, and for under $30, the black and red version is definitely the better buy over the Spalding ball at $60.
Henry Bibby, former head coach at USC and NBA assistant coach, developed the Dribblepro and sent me a ball to review in early 2015, but I only started training regularly with it recently. The ball is a regular size ball that has several rubber “stubs” – when you dribble the ball, the stubs will occasionally hit the ground and cause the ball to bounce in a random direction. This forces your hands (and eyes if you are looking) to predict where the ball will go and control it. The idea is that this unpredictably better reflects real life game situations in which you need to control the ball under intense situations.
It is hard to do an objective analysis of the effects of training (I trained a couple of hours a week for nearly 2 months) with the ball. Over my time with it, one of the stubs broke off and I felt that the ball lost much of its cover surface from use on outdoor basketball courts. However, I can still shoot and dribble with it fine. From the training, I feel that dribbling with a normal ball is much easier – since starting, I only practiced with the Dribblepro and played games with normal balls, so I can feel a clear difference when I switch. In addition, I unexpectedly have more confidence dribbling the ball during games. There have a been a few times where I was dribbling in traffic or lost control of the ball, but I knew I could get it back. Whether this has been due to actual improvement, luck, or the level of competition, I cannot say.
If you can train with both the Dribblepro and Dribble Specs to prevent yourself from looking at the ball as it careens out of control, I think that is a special combination to improving your hands and feel for high-intensity, in-game traffic situations.
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