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How to Palm a Basketball – A Beginner’s Guide

When you watch a professional basketball game (or even a college or high school), the players will often hold their basketballs with just one hand. They do this to juke somebody, fake an incoming pass, and slam dunk on top of someone’s net! 

The trick? It’s called palming. 

This article gives a complete guide on how to palm a basketball.

What is the Best Way to Palm a Basketball?

When it comes to palming a basketball, there are some limitations that you may have encountered in the past. But with practice and training, these can be overcome by anyone who puts their mind into achieving this goal!

Palming a Basketball: The Prerequisites


Palming a Basketball

Three major criteria influence whether or not you can palm a basketball.

  • Hand Size – Can you palm a ball with your hand?
  • Rubber basketballs have better grip, although leather basketballs are utilized in more sophisticated games.
  • Hand Strength – You must have the adequate hand strength to grip the basketball with one hand, even if your hands are quite large.

Basketball Palming Hand Size

To palm a basketball, your hand size and grip are essential. You can’t quite do it if you have small hands or an awkward shaking motion, but most people find that they’re able to get good at palming after practicing for a while!

  • 7.5″ hand length and an 8 1/4″ hand span is the minimal hand size for comfortably palming a basketball.
  • Get a ruler or measuring tape and measure from the base of your palm to the tip of your middle finger to determine the length of your hand.
  • Then using the same type of measuring device, measure the distance between your thumb and pinky by spreading your palm and fingers out.

People with smaller hands might be able to palm a basketball, but it would require a lot more muscle and expertise than usual.

The Effects of Different Basketball Types on Basketball Palming…

Different types of basketballs have varying degrees of grip. A new, clean rubber basketball will often have the most grip, whereas a genuine leather basketball (such as those used in the NBA) will be slicker and smoother.

It’s a good idea to start with a rubber basketball while learning how to palm a basketball. Even if you think it would be better to begin with a full-sized leather ball like the pros, you should start at the beginning level and see how you do with a rubber basketball first.

Hand Stretches to Help Palm a Basketball

Can you really stretch your hands to cover a wider area. Just like lifting weights can change your physical abilities, stretching your hand can change how well it grips. To improve your palming skills, try stretching out the fingers on both hands. This will make it easier for you to palm basketballs and strengthen the muscles and ligaments needed when doing so. Here’s three stretches that can help…

Basic Finger Stretch

Place your hand palm down on a flat surface and stretch out fingers as far from thumb to pinky. Hold for 30 seconds, then release. Repeat 10 times. 

Finger Lift

With your palm down on a flat surface, gently lift up your thumb, then lower it. Repeat with the rest of the fingers by themselves ten times in succession while watching how closely they are aligned together as you go so there aren’t any gaps between them or loose skin that could catch when lowering yourself back down again.

Finger Bend

This is a great stretch to do when your fingers are tense or injured. Extend one arm in front of you with the palm side down and bend back individual fingertips until they become flexible enough for everyday use again! You can also try this by holding onto something sturdy, like a table edge, while bending backward slowly over time (15 seconds).


Exercises to Improve Basketball Palming

Unless you have extensive hands, your grip strength will account for a lot of what goes into palming a basketball. Grip strength can be divided into three categories.

  • The Support Grip is used to hang from a bar or hold onto anything like a piece of luggage.
  • The Crush Grasp is the grip that your fingers and palm have on each other. Shaking hands, crumpling paper, and just crushing things are all done with this grip.
  • The Pinch Grasp is the grip that your thumb and fingers make together. This is the most important grip to remember when palming a basketball.

Start with small weights and work your way up to improve the pinch grasp or even any grip. Proceed with prudence, don’t go too big too fast, and don’t overextend yourself — keep in mind thatwe use our fingers all the time so they can always be stretching.

Practicing Palming a Basketball


Palming A Basketball

Even if you follow all of the stretching and exercise instructions, you’ll still need to know how a basketball should feel in your hand when palming it. Starting with a smaller ball and working your way up is recommended.

Begin with a more miniature rubber basketball in a women’s or a youth’s size if your hands are tiny. Feel the basketball with your hand. With the fingers spread out as much as possible and squeezing from the sides, the palm should be entirely forced upon the basketball surface.

At first, practice palming the basketball while keeping your arm straight in front of you. Gravity will help keep the basketball in place if your thumb is facing down and your fingers are on top.

Start palming the basketball with your arm straight down once you’ve mastered the straight-out exercise for 30 seconds at a time. It will be a little more difficult now that gravity isn’t controlled. Experiment with this for 20 seconds at a time.

Finally, incorporate some activity into your routine. Dribble with the basketball for a few seconds before palming it to halt it. Practice juking someone by pretending to pass the basketball while palming it and returning it to you. If you can find shorter rims, practice dunking on these before moving to the full-sized baskets.

It’s time to step up the difficulty when you can complete all of these workouts using a smaller rubber basketball. If you have the option, a leather basketball is a good choice to increase the difficulty and increase your ability.

Final Note

With a bit of practice, you will palm the basketball like an expert. Start with a rubber basketball. Once that is accomplished, move up to the more difficult leather basketball. The leather surface may feel strange at first, but with these exercises and the requirements listed above for practicing them successfully, you can make your palms as tough as nails.

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