Passing

Passing is another crucial skill that players must have at all skill levels. When a team can effectively pass, it shows high IQ and team chemistry. Without passing a team’s offense can break down. Poor passing can lead to contested shots, or worse a turnover. Some teams have offensive tactics designed around “making the extra pass.” However, even the systems that are less pass centric would benefit from having players who could pass.
There are many different types of passes. The most common is the chest pass. To complete a chest pass the player starts by squeezing the ball with their hands at chest level, elbows facing outwards. While doing this their thumbs should be at, or near the top of the ball, close to the players chest. Then players should step forward in the direction they are passing, with their dominant foot, to increase the power and accuracy of the pass. Finally players should push the ball forward, and flip their thumbs from the top of the ball to the bottom of the ball, which opens up their hands toward the target they are passing too. This thumb movement will create the proper spin on the ball. The chest pass is used the most often, and is used for middle length passes in the half court that are rather uncontested. Chest passes can be dangerous if the defense is playing tight and physical because they are easy to track and tip away.

Next is the overhead pass. This pass is used for longer range passes due to the added power and high trajectory. The overhead pass can also be used in the half court offense to lob the pass over the defender if they are fronting. Proper form on the overhead pass is similar to the inbounds pass in football. The player should hold the ball above their head with both hands, bring the ball back behind their head, and then throw it forward. Overhead passes are often used off of a rebound, to launch the ball down the court and start the fast break.

The bounce pass is used in many different situations throughout the game. The most common situation they are used in is when the on-ball defender is playing up tight, making it hard for the player with the ball to make an effective chest pass. Usually these passes are made going towards the basket, such as a post entry pass, or a pass to a player making a backdoor cut. Making these passes horizontally are more dangerous because they do not have the same velocity as a chest pass. To have proper form on a bounce pass the player should start by stepping towards their target with their dominant foot. Then, while using the same criteria for a proper chest pass, the player should simply pass the ball to the ⅔ of the way between themselves and the target, allowing the pass to come up right above their waist.

Lastly, one handed passes are modified versions of the overhead pass and the bounce pass. For example, a player may choose to throw the ball like an American football over their head to start a fast break. A one handed bounce pass may also be used when the defender is playing extremely tight on-ball defense, making it impossible to step directly towards the target. In this case, the player should pivot to the side and bounce the ball one-handed into the post. This is a quick way to get the ball into the post before the defender can still. Many players also attempt to use the one-handed bounce pass in transition, since it is sort of a “sleight of hand” pass, it is another way to quickly get the ball past the defense, which is necessary in transition. Typically one handed passes can easily be intercepted, so players should be instructed to stick to the traditional forms if possible.

The footwork mentioned above is the most important aspect of passing, it is the most influential part of power and accuracy. Without proper footwork, players could struggle to make effective passes consistently.

Making passes on time and on target is an essential part of many plays and offenses in general. On time and on target passes create more space for offensive players because it gives the defender less time to react and close out. Effective passes also put more pressure on the defense to be perfect, opening up different cuts and drives to the basket. If passes are not on time and on target, the proper form will be inconsequential, it could be the best form ever, but if the pass is late it could be stolen.

Pass form also slightly differs whether or not the player is stationary or moving. When stationary the form guidelines above apply. If the player is moving, then generally the same form applies, but it may be useful for players to take one step first before executing the form above. Taking this step will allow for the player to slow down and make a more controlled pass. It is important that the player makes the pass on the second step and not the third step, or they could be called for a travel.

The most common and effective passing drill is the three man weave. The three man weave is where three players weave in and around each other while practicing a fast break. Coaches can instruct their players to complete different passes to each other while executing the fast break. Most drills will incorporate passing in the drill, such as the shooting drill in the previous topic. It would be beneficial for coaches to instruct their players to use proper passing form, and utilising all types of passes during other drills, essentially making every drill a passing drill.

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