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How to Palm a Basketball – Exercises to Hold with Better Grip

Last Updated June 17, 2024 Last Updated November 23, 2023 by Omri Lipman

Palming a basketball is difficult and one of the key skills to control the ball. In order to become a better player, you need to learn how to palm a basketball and improve your ball-handling skills. A strong grip will make you hold the basketball in hand, resulting in better control when dribbling, catching the pass, and shooting.

In my own experience, I found strengthening my hand strength quite effective. To make your grip strong, start by doing pull-ups, chin-ups and pushing off with only your fingertips. When you have time to properly train, hold a ball in your hand, squeezing tight and hold it for a few seconds. Let’s discuss some exercises you can do to help strengthen your grip and improve your ball-handling skills like Michael Jordan and Kevin Durant.

How to Palm a Basketball

How to Palm a Basketball in Hand – Strong Hand Palming

By gripping the ball with your palm instead of your fingers, you’ll be able to control it better and make more difficult catches. Follow these steps to perfectly palm a basketball in one hand;

  1. Put your palm flat on the basketball, wrap your fingers around it so that you have a strong grip on the ball. You should have the fingers covering most of the ball, but without being too close to the seams.
  2. Hold it with your palm flat on the ball and fingers wrapped around the ball.
  3. Roll your hand clockwise until you can feel a strong touch between your palm and the ball. At this point, your palm will be in a tight grip on the ball.
  4. Hold this position for 10 seconds and then do the same in the counterclockwise rotation.
  5. Repeat this exercise 10 times and take a break for 30 seconds to 1 minute. During the break, shake your hand and relax it.


Exercises to Help in Palming a Basketball

Let’s discuss some exercises to strengthen your hand grip and see how they can help you palm a basketball better.palming a basketball

Tip: hold a dumbbell or a heavy book with one hand while exercising. This will help in strengthening your grip.

  1. Fingertip Push-Ups
  2. Finger Stretches
  3. Dexterity Drills
  4. Palm the Basketball Horizontally
  5. Wrist Extension
  6. Training with Climbing Wall
  7. Plate Pinch


1. Fingertip Push-Ups

Fingertip push-ups have been a favorite exercise for many athletes including basketball players. It strengthens the arm muscles and the grip, which is a must for a basketball player. This exercise is similar to the normal push up, the only difference is that you’ll touch the ground with fingertips only instead of whole hands.improve hand grip

The following steps should be followed to perform this exercise:

  1. a) Get down on the ground and put your palms flat on it.
  2. b) Lift your body up and support yourself on the fingers of both hands, keeping them straight.
  3. c) Now, lower your chest to the ground until you touch it with both your fingertips together. Your elbows must be kept straight during this movement. Return to the starting position of this exercise and repeat it 10 times.


2. Finger Stretches

Finger stretching is another basic exercise for the players in order to gain a better grip in ball handling. To perform this, follow these steps carefully:better basketball grip

  1. a) Stretch out your fingers in front of you and hold this position for at least 10 seconds. Do it ten times.
  2. b) After some time, you can put your fingers together and stretch them away from each other. Stretch them as far as possible without hurting yourself. Hold this position for at least ten seconds and repeat it five times.
  3. c) Now, move your hand towards the palm of your hand to form a fist with all the fingers together tightly. Hold this position for at least five seconds and repeat it five times.

You can also use a finger stretcher to perform this exercise.


3. Dexterity Drills

There are some drills that you can incorporate in your training and practice sessions to improve your dexterity and grip. These can be performed by:

  1. a) Place a ball between the hand and the back of the wrist. Now gently push the ball on the ground by using your palm and fingers.
  2. b) One more exercise is to place a ball between the little finger and the ring finger of both your hands. Palms should be facing towards each other and on touching level with each other. Now, bring the two hands to the right and then to the left. Then reverse this movement by bringing them to the left and back to the right again. This movement must be performed delicately.
  3. c) You can also use a tennis ball or an orange to perform the same exercise. Take the ball between your palms and try to squeeze it by bringing the hands close. Do it at least 10 times.


4. Palming a Basketball Horizontally

exercises to palm a basketball

This exercise is extremely helpful for the players as it helps to improve the strength of your palms and fingers. The purpose of horizontal palming is to minimize the effect of gravity. In order to perform this, hold a basketball in your hand a stretch your arm straight parallel to the ground. Almost half of your hand will be under the ball by doing this – resulting in making palming a bit easier.

Hold the ball at this position for as long as you can without hurting your muscles. You’ll start feeling burns in your forearm muscles. Gradually increase the number of seconds each day. Once you’ll be able to hold the ball at a horizontal position for at least a minute, move toward normal palming in hand.


5. Wrist Extension

Strengthening the wrist is another way to improve your grip and ball-handling. For this, you need to follow these steps carefully:

  1. a) Sit on an exercise ball and hold a basketball in both your hands. Keep your palms flat on the ground as if you are going to perform a pushup. Now, push back your upper body until you are at the starting position of this exercise.
  2. b) Move your hands towards each other and place them on the ground with palms flat. Now, put the lower end of the basketball on top of your wrists. Keep it stationary for some time and move back to the starting position slowly. This will help strengthen your wrist and improve your grip. Do this for 10 times and stretch the fingers and palms equally.

There are some weight exercises you can perform in the gym to strengthen your wrists.


6. Train with Climbing Wall to Improve Grip

Wall climbing is a great exercise to train your fingers and palms to improve your grip. So, if you have a climbing wall at home, or at the gym, take advantage and train your grip;make your hands grippy for basketball

  1. Grip climbing holds with palms facing away from the body
  2. Pull yourself up to the next hold using biceps and lat muscles
  3. Slowly place feet on the wall and step up
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until the top is reached
  5. For going down, safely reverse the order while still gripping the holds.



7. Plate Pinch

improve grip to hold basketballNot everyone has access to a wall climb, there; a plate pinch exercise comes in handy. To perform it, place two 5kg plats together and hold them between your palms. Now, stretch your hands to the maximum level and hold for at least five seconds.

Furthermore, hold both of them on the fingertips of one hand and try to push them with the other hand’s thumb, and wise-versa. You can also perform multiple “plate-holding” exercises by holding them with your fingers only – looks like you are pinching the plates!



Hand Size to Palm a Basketball – Required Hand Size for Palming

Required hand size to palm a basketball comfortable is 7.5” length and 8 1/4” span. If your hand size is smaller than that, it will be difficult to hold the ball – it will require a lot of practice. On the other hand, bigger hands will grab the ball better for optimum control.

michael jordan hand size

10 Largest Hand Sizes in NBA

  • Boban Marjanovic: 10.75” / 12”
  • Shaquille O’Neal: 10.25” / 12”
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo: 9.85” / 12”
  • Gregory Smith: 9.8” / 12”
  • Connie Hawkins: 10.5” / 11”
  • Noah Vonleh: 9.75” / 11.75”
  • Julius Erving: Estimated to be 9.5” / 11.75”
  • Michael Jordan: 9.75” / 11.375”
  • Kawhi Leonard: 9.75” / 11.25”
  • Wilt Chamberlain: 9.5” / 11.5”


How to Measure Hand Size

The hand size of basketball players did not matter until 2010 when NBA officially started to measure. There are two measures in hand size – length and span.

Things Required to Measure Hand Size

  1. Measuring Tape
  2. Paper
  3. Pencil

Measure Hand Length

Open your hand straight facing upwards, place a measuring tape and measure from the base of your palm to the tip of your middle finger – that’s the length of your hand!


Measure Hand Span

Open your hand and place flat on a piece of paper with the palm down, mark the edge of the thumb and little finger using a pencil and measure the distance between these two edges – that’s the span of your hand!



Wrapping Up

Now you know how to palm a basketball and what hand size is required to hold a basketball in one hand. Exercising your palm and fingers will help improve your grip and you can use the above-mentioned exercises to improve your grip. Just practice these exercises on daily basis and strengthen your fingers, palms, and wrists.

Last but not the least, wearing basketball gloves is a better alternative for palming a basketball.



Frequently Asked Questions: (FAQs)

How big do your hands need to be to palm a basketball?

A person with a palm size of 8.5 to 9 inches is able to hold a basketball in one hand.


Can you train yourself to palm a basketball?

Yes, you can improve your grip and train yourself to palm a basketball by practicing these exercises;

  • Fingertip Push Ups
  • Finger Stretches
  • Dexterity Drills
  • Palm the Basketball Horizontally
  • Wrist Extension
  • Training with Climbing Wall
  • Plate Pinch


Can you palm a basketball with small hands?

No, if your palm size is smaller than 8.5 to 9 inches, it won’t be possible for you to hold the basketball in one hand.


How do you learn to palm a ball?

Palming a basketball is not an easy task and one has to learn this important skill with time and dedication. Start by gripping the ball, holding it at the right place and then practice gripping the ball for increasing strength.