How to Pass a Basketball

Passing is an essential skill in the game of basketball. The skill of passing is used more during the course of a game than shooting or rebounding and can often be the difference between winning and losing. Great offensive teams are always great passing teams. Here are a few tips on how to pass the ball.

1. Pass with your Feet

  • Most of your passes should be completed by stepping towards your intended target. For basic passes like a two-handed chest/bounce pass you want to step towards your target so that the ball follows where your foot steps. You are also going to need to use your feet to step around defenders when you have a defender between you and your target.

2. Pass with your Wrists

  • Great passers throw crisp passes. The way to throw crisp passes is to flick your wrists so your thumbs point down to the ground. A lot of turnovers are committed when a player throws a soft, lofted pass which gives the defender the extra time to intercept the pass. Unless you are throwing a lob pass to a low-post player, you want the ball to get to your target at quickly as possible.

3. Pass with your Eyes

  • Great passers move the defense with their eyes to avoid committing needless turnovers. If a player is wide open, faking a defender out with your eyes is not important. However, if your are throwing the ball to a closely covered player, you will want to use your eyes to make the defense think you are passing the ball to another player. This point is especially relevant when playing against zone defenses.


Basketball Passing Tips

1. Hit the target

  • Whether you are passing the ball to a big-man in the post, or to a shooter on the perimeter, you always want to give your teammate the best chance to be successful. For shooters this means hitting them in their shooting pocket and for post-players this could mean hitting their target hand. Experienced players should give you a target with their hands for you to throw the ball too.

2. Ball Fake to Pass

  • Unless you are swinging the ball around the perimeter with no defensive pressure, you will have to use fakes to pass the ball around a defender. A great technique is to fake one direct and pass the other. For example if you are trying to pass the ball into the low-post you could fake a low bounce pass and then throw the ball high, or you could fake a pass to the right and come back to the left. Always use a ball fake to move the defense to give you an opening to pass the ball.

3. Improve your Passing Angle

  • The two primary ways to improve your passing angle are by the dribble and pivot. You never want to pass through defenders you always want to pass AROUND defenders. You can use your dribble to create space and throw the ball around your defender, or you can use your pivot to give yourself a better angle to pass.


Basic Types of Passes

1. Two-Handed Chest/Bounce Pass

  • This is the most basic pass and used when players are not tightly guarded by a defender. To execute this pass start the ball at your chest, step towards your offensive teammate, and push the ball (flicking your wrist) to your teammate. If you are throwing a chest pass you want the ball to fly through the air and hit them in the chest, if you are throwing a bounce pass you want the ball to hit the floor 3/4 of the way between you two.

2. One-Handed Chest/Bounce Pass

  • This pass is probably the most commonly used pass. You can use a one-handed bounce/chest pass to feed the post, swing the ball, or throw a backdoor pass. When you have a defender on you it is difficult to use a two-handed pass, so most of the times players will use their body to shield their defender from the ball and use their opposite hand to throw the pass. Check out this video of one of the greatest one handed passers ever to play the game.

3. Overhead Pass

  • This pass is when a player throws a pass with the ball above their head. You want to throw the pass from the front of your forehead and don’t want to bring the ball behind your head (like a soccer throw-in) because you risk having the ball stripped from behind and the pass becomes much slower. Overhead passes are longer passes and are often used as an outlet pass (after a defensive rebound) or a skip pass.


Basic Passing Drills

1. Partner Passing

  • The most basic of passing drills, partner passing is a simple, practical drill. Find a teammate, coach, or friend and practice passing the ball back and forth. Make sure you vary the types of passes and the distances you throw them from. Use movement as another variation to practice passing on the move while running up and down the court to simulate a fast break scenario. Finally, you can practice passing in different half-court scenarios (i.e. throwing the ball into the post, throwing back-door passes, skip passes, or full court passes).

2. Wall Passing

  • If you don’t have a partner to pass with you can use a garage door, cement wall, or gym wall to practice your basic passes. To improve your accuracy pick a spot on the wall and try to consistently hit your mark.

3. Weave Passing

  • You will need 3-5 people to perform weave passing drills. For a 3 man weave, start with the ball in the middle and pass the ball to the player to the right or left to start the drill.  The person who passes should follow their pass by running around the player you passed it to, each player follows this pattern advancing up and down the court until the final pass leads to a layup.
  • A 5 man weave follows the principles except you always pass to the person on the inside of the 5 person line and follow your pass by running to the outside of two players.

4. Three Person Passing

  • This is the basketball version of monkey-in-the-middle. Have one player stand in-between two players who are trying to pass the ball back and forth. Use ball fakes and footwork to pass the ball past the player in the middle. This drill gives you a game-like situation to practice your passes.AH7

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