How to Palm a Basketball: 5 Tips and Exercises for Better Grip Strength

I remember early in my traveling basketball days when our team had lots of time between games. We’d always try to show off new tricks like spinning a basketball on our fingers, winning at taps, or palming a basketball.

What surprised me about those days was the ability of some of us to palm the basketball like Michael Jordan and others not to – regardless of hand size.

It all comes down to improving grip strength, expanding your hand size, and having a good palming technique.

Some kids with big hands couldn’t do it, while some kids with small hands had good hand grip and could.

I thought this was the most incredible trick, and I was obsessed with learning how to palm a basketball so I could show off to my teammates.

While having bigger hands helps, they are not needed. There are basketball training methods to develop palming skills to help you consistently palm a full size basketball no matter the size of your hands.

Palm grip is an important aspect to master to become a successful basketball player.

Being able to palm the ball allows you to control it better in ball handling, helps you snatch the ball securely while rebounding, and maneuver it around the court with ease. If you increase your vertical jump enough, palming a basketball can even help you dunk!

But if you’re struggling to palm the ball, don’t worry! In this blog post, I’ll provide tips and exercises to help improve your grip and take your basketball game to the next level.

So grab your favorite outdoor or indoor basketball, and let’s get started!

What is Grip Strength?

Grip strength refers to the level of force that an individual can exert with their hands and fingers.

It is a crucial component of various physical activities such as weightlifting, rock climbing, and basketball.

A strong grip is essential for basketball players who want to learn how to palm a basketball.

Palming refers to holding the ball with one hand using the palm and fingers without any help from the other hand.

To palm a basketball, a player must have a firm grip and be able to generate enough force to control the ball. Developing a strong grip can help players achieve this goal and improve their overall performance on the court.

Reasons You Need to Know How to Palm a Basketball

Learning how to palm a basketball can benefit professional and amateur players.

Palming the ball gives players greater control, making shooting, dribbling, and passing easier.

It can also make it easier to perform certain moves, such as crossovers and spin moves, without losing control of the ball.

Additionally, being able to palm the ball can give players a competitive edge by allowing them to diversify their playing style and make quick and unexpected moves on the court.

It can also improve their rebounding ability and help them better defend against opposing players.

Overall, mastering the skill of palming a basketball – whether it’s an indoor or outdoor basketball – can significantly enhance a player’s performance and increase their chances of success in the game.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Learning to Palm a Basketball

Palming a basketball is a skill that can take your game to the next level.

It may seem like a daunting task, but fear not!

In this article, we will provide step-by-step instructions on palming a basketball like a pro.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player, these tips and tricks will help you improve your grip and master the art of palming a basketball with enough consistent practice.

So grab a basketball, and let’s get started!

1. Improve Your Grip Strength

One of the simplest ways to improve your palming grip is to perform exercises to ensure your hands are strong enough to hold the ball.

Strengthening your grip muscles can help you palm the ball more easily and hold onto it more tightly while dribbling and is also a great way to increase your shoulder width and bully defenders that get in your way. Some exercises to improve your grip on the ball include:

Squeezing a tennis ball

This is a simple yet effective way to improve your grip on the ball. The resistance the ball provides helps strengthen the muscles in your fingers, hands, and forearms, allowing you to better control and manipulate objects like a basketball.

Practice with the whole hand, then on each finger – including your index finger finger, middle finger, or just your thumb.

Soon enough, palming an inflated basketball will be a breeze.

Using a grip strengthener

By continually squeezing and releasing the device, you can build the muscles in your fingers, hands, and forearms, translating to better control and handling of objects like a basketball.

Using a grip strengthener or hand grippers is a popular method for improving pinch grip strength.


Exercises such as reverse curls using an overhand grip and walking with weightlifting plates using a pinch grip can significantly improve pinch grip strength.

These exercises increase forearm and finger strength, which is essential for maintaining a secure grip on a basketball if you’re learning how to dunk a basketball.

Lifting isn’t just for your vertical leap.

Balling up a newspaper

Lay out a single piece of newspaper on a hard, flat surface like your kitchen table. Place the bottom of your hand where your wrist begins on one corner of the newspaper.

Then, without moving the placement of the bottom of your hand, ball up the newspaper using all your fingers. Do this with both hands until you feel the burn in your forearms.


Pull-ups are a great way to build pinch grip strength, especially with the support grip on a pull-up bar.

This exercise targets muscle groups in your hands, arms, and back, which can help increase shoulder width and improve your ability to hold onto a basketball during gameplay.

Fingertip push-ups

This is a challenging exercise that can improve pinch grip strength and increase your overall hand dexterity.

However, any basketball coach would tell you it’s essential to approach this exercise with caution as it may put additional strain on your wrists and fingers. It’s best to start with a modified version and gradually work to full fingertip push-ups.

2. Work on Hand Size

While genetics play a role in determining the size of your hands, there are ways to stretch your hands and improve your ability to palm the basketball.

Lay your dominant hand, or shooting hand, flat on a table and spread your fingers as wide as possible, holding for 30 seconds to a minute.

You can stretch out each finger individually – whether it’s your middle finger, ring finger, or just your thumb – by pulling them back away from your palm. Claw stretches, along with various finger and thumb stretches, are also great for this as well.

Repeat this a few times daily with both your non-shooting and shooting hand, and you’ll gradually build more space between your fingers, allowing for greater grip control.

3. Practice Proper Grip Technique

If you’re already playing basketball and are struggling to palm the ball, it could be that your technique is off.

First, make sure you have a clean basketball.

Keep your fingers spread apart, and press the ball into your palm with your fingertips. Try to cover as much surface on the basketball as you can – from the tip of your middle finger to your thumb – so that your palm stretches out rather than doing a crush grip.

This will improve your palming ability quickly on both your non-shooting and shooting hand.

4. Try Alternate Grips

Consider alternative ones if you’re still having trouble palming the basketball with the traditional grip.

One method is to use your fingertips to grip the ball on the sides rather than in your palm.

You can also try gripping the ball with one hand on the top and the other on the bottom, giving you greater control over the ball’s movement.

5. Practice, Practice, Practice

Finally, practice is critical when it comes to palming the basketball.

The more you do it, the better you will become at it. Consider doing basic drills like dribbling with your palming hand or holding the ball while doing lunges.

Also, practice palming with both hands to be effective with both.

Key Considerations for Successfully Learning How to Palm a Basketball

When it comes to learning how to palm a ball, a few key considerations can significantly impact your success.

Developing strong grip strength is crucial. This can be achieved through various exercises, such as squeezing a stress ball or using hand grippers.

Proper technique is essential. It’s important to use your fingers and palm in combination to achieve a secure grip on the ball, rather than using a crush grip.

Practicing with the right size basketball is essential – if the ball is too big or small for your hands, you may struggle to palm it effectively.

Like any skill, palming a basketball requires practice and repetition to master. By keeping these considerations in mind and avoiding a crush grip, you’ll be well on your way to successfully learning how to palm a ball.

Taking It to The Next Level: How to Secure a Rebound

To strongly secure a rebound, it’s vital to position yourself correctly under the basket and anticipate where the ball will bounce. A good rule of thumb is to anticipate the ball coming off the rim on the opposite side of where it was shot.

As the ball is in mid-air, jump up and use your arms to box out opposing players around you. Once you’ve secured the ball, bring it close to your chest with both hands and elbows out and pivot away from any defenders to protect the ball.

Maintaining a low center of gravity can also help you stay balanced and prevent other players from knocking you off balance.

Alternatives to Palming a Basketball

If you’ve tried but can’t seem to palm a ball, don’t worry – you’re not alone! Palming a ball can be tricky, especially if you weren’t blessed with giant hands like Michael Jordan.

You can always rely on your trusty old friend, the other hand. There’s nothing wrong with having superior ball control with two hands rather than just one.

Don’t let palming a basketball bring you down – embrace your strengths and have fun out on the court!


Remember that palming a basketball is not an easy skill to master, but with patience and persistence, anyone can do it.

By focusing on grip strength, technique, and hand stretches, you’ll be well on your way to better ball control and more efficient movement around the court.

So, keep practicing, and don’t give up – before you know it, you’ll be an expert at palming the basketball!


Can NBA players palm a basketball?

Yes, most NBA basketball players are able to palm a ball to some degree. However, the ability to palm a basketball varies among players.

Some basketball players, like Michael Jordan and Giannis Antetokounmpo, have exceptionally large hands that give them a significant advantage in palming the ball and shaking hands.

Do your hands have to be big to palm a basketball?

Having larger hands can certainly make it easier to palm a basketball, but it is not the sole determining factor.

The ability to palm a ball depends on a combination of hand size, finger strength, and hand flexibility.

What does it mean if you can palm a basketball?

If you can palm a basketball, it means that you have the ability to fully grip and control the basketball with one hand – whether it’s your non-shooting or shooting hand.

Palming the ball allows you to hold it securely without it slipping out of your hand, making it easier to perform certain basketball moves such as dribbling, shooting, and dunking.

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