Advanced Passing Principles
1. Don’t telegraph your passes
The best passers are able to make their pass without having to focus on the person they are throwing the ball to. As a passer, the longer you stare at your intended target, the easier it is for the defender to “read” your eyes and intercept the pass. Check out these Ricky Rubio highlights and notice how he rarely stares in the direction he wants to pass the ball, instead he keeps the defenders off balance by scanning the entire floor until he makes his decision.
2. Fake to Pass
The best way to minimize your turnovers and maximize your assists is to use some sort of “fake” before you pass. You can fake with the basketball to throw the defender off balance. Using a “pass fake” (with the ball) is a great way to move the defense away from where you want to throw the ball. A general rule of thumb is to fake the opposite direction that you want to throw the ball, so if you want to throw a bounce pass into the post you should “fake high to throw low”.
3. Dribble to Pass
One of the biggest mistakes that young players make is to become fixated on their passing target which causes them forget to use their dribble to improve their passing angle. A smart use of the dribble is one of the most helpful tools for making great passes and avoiding turnovers. Instead of trying to force the ball into tight spaces, use your dribble to create openings so you can throw the ball to your teammate with the defense deflecting it.
Train to become a GREAT Passer
1. Team Training is the best Practice
Admittedly, it is difficult to develop passing drills that mirror game like situations. Practicing your passing is different than working on your ball-handling, shooting, or post moves because you don’t need other players to work on those skills. Therefore, the best way to improve your passing is to consciously make an effort to throw quality passes during your team training sessions. If you throw sloppy passes during practice, those habits will spill over into the game. Focus on throwing great passes both in drills and in live 5 vs. 5 situations. Perfect practice at training makes perfect passers!
2. Great Passers are Great Ball-Handlers
The more comfortable you are with the ball in your hands, the more effective you will be as a passer. Most of the time you only have a split-second to get a pass where it needs to be. If you are fumbling around with the ball or have to look down at the ball while your dribbling, you will miss your opportunity to throw a great pass.
Check out how Steve Nash uses his dribble to set up some of these amazing assists.