Basketball Passing Tips

Passing is an important skill and there are a variety of different types. The key to passing is finding the open player and choosing the appropriate type of pass.

The two most common passes in basketball are the chest and the bounce pass.

  1. Chest Pass. Ball travels from your chest area directly to your teamate with little arc and no bounce. This is the most direct way to transfer the ball and is the easiest to catch.
  2. Bounce Pass. Ball travels from your chest or waist area and takes one bounce up into your teammates hands.  This is the most difficult pass to defend because the ball is bouncing near the defenders feet and they don’t have time to get their hands on it. This is why the bounce pass is very effective and popular.

Below are some passing tips:

  1. Pass with two hands. By putting both hands on the ball you have more control and can easily put backspin on the ball.
  2. Step into your pass. Put your weight into your pass to ensure proper velocity and control.
  3. Always follow through. Just like a good shooter, a good passer will follow through.
  4. End with your thumbs pointing down. Your thumbs should point down at the end of your follow through. This ensures there is proper back spin on the ball which makes it easier to catch.
  5. Make the pass easy to catch. Don’t put a lot of speed on the pass if you don’t need it, and always read the body language of your teammate, are they ready for a pass? Where are their hands?
  6. Pass away from the defender. Agressive defenders will play passing lanes and knock away passes. Passing to the side of your teammate that is away from the defender will reduce tipped passes.
  7. Make the easy pass. Most turnovers that amateurs commit happen because they try to make a difficult or impossible pass. Just make the easy passes to wide open players, this will ensure your teammate can easily get it and your team retains possession.
  8. Pass to the hands of your teammate. If your teamate is squaring up for a shot, they will have their hands by their shooting pocket, make sure thats where you aim. If they are battling in the post with their hands up in the air, make a lob pass to their finger tips. If they are in the post reaching out low, skip a bounce pass in so it hits their hands.
  9. Only lead your receiver if required. Many passing turnovers are caused by over leading the receiver, often in times when there is no need to lead the receiver at all. If your teammate is wide open on a fast break don’t try throw the ball far in front of them, instead make a pass they will be able to get even if they slow down.
  10. Use trick passes with caution. Trick passes can look impressive when they work, but often result in turnovers. Using a trick pass just you had to try and fool the defense because you could not get them out of position.
  11. Do not jump. Once you jump, you are not allowed to land with the ball, if the passing lane disappears as you jump, you have no choice but to throw a bad pass.
  12. Pick a target. Don’t throw in the general direction of your teammates voice.
  13. BONUS TIP: Play a practice game without dribbles. Find a few friends and play a game with no dribbling allowed (almost like ultimate frisbee), it will force you to focus on passing.

Below for receiving a passes:

  1. Catch the ball with two hands and grab it with muscle. By using both hands and your strength you are increasing your control of the ball incase it had more velocity than expected or a strange spin. It also lets you immediately get into your shooting motion or tripple threat position.
  2. Come to the ball. If you let the ball come to you, you are giving the defender a chance to make a play. Once the ball is in the air, its your job as the receiver to get to it and make sure no one else can.

In this video coach Wack talks about the value of the bounce pass and gives a quick demonstration:

In this video coach Waack demonstrates how to perform a proper chest pass, using appropriate follow through to create backspin: