Basketball Drills: The Rolling Thunder Drill

Learn how to master moves like the crab dribble and defensive slide with this beginner, intermediate and advanced-progression drill.

Basketball can be a fast-moving game, which means you have to be light on your feet. If you’re struggling to keep up with the game’s pace, college basketball coach Donnie Arey has the perfect drill for you: The Rolling Thunder drill. This drill can help you master your defensive slides and crab dribbles all the while helping to build your stamina. This is a great warmup that you can do with your whole team.


For the first drill progression, stand in the middle of the key facing your coach. Get into an athletic stance and place a basketball at your feet. When your coach blows their whistle, slide defensively and roll the ball in the direction they want you to head. If you’re going left, roll the ball with your left hand and vice versa if going to the right. Make sure to stay focused because when you hear the whistle again you’ll quickly change directions and shuffle back.


To make the drill more challenging, your coach will lose the whistle, so you’ll have to pay close attention to their hand signal, which indicates change in direction. Instead of rolling the ball, like in the beginner drill, you’ll perform a crab dribble. This is designed to improve hand-eye coordination. Make sure to stay low while also maintaining good control of the ball.

Another version of this progression is to roll two balls on the court instead of just one. Your coach will still direct you with their hands, so make sure you stay focused.

After you’ve gotten used to rolling two balls, try crab dribbling with both balls. Make sure you’ve got a good grip on both so they don’t collide as you switch directions.


In the last progression, you’ll move from sideline to sideline with two basketballs. When you’re ready to begin, give one ball a good push so that it rolls on its own in front of you. As it’s rolling, stay low and dribble around it. This is a great drill to work on agility and footwork skills as you make your way down the court.

If you want to work with a partner, they can take the place of the ball and walk down the court while you dribble around them. This is a fun way to get warmed up before practice, as the player who isn’t dribbling acts as a moving cone. When you complete your portion of the drill, switch roles.

Practice these progressions so you can help build stamina and endurance to for game-like situations.