When coaching youth basketball, build an effective plan for player practice and improvement. There are many methods and drills, so it is essential for you to find your style as well as the appropriate skill level to match the age and ability of your players. While dribbling and shooting drills are often a major focus, passing cannot be overlooked.
Importance of Passing Drills
Basketball is a team sport, and the team must be able to work together as one unit. Passing is a major part of playing together as a team. Still, passing continues to be one of the most under-taught and under-emphasized skills on the court, according to Breakthrough Basketball. Young players are still learning the importance of teamwork and may not always recognize the importance of passing and promoting the success of other team members. Passing drills not only improve children’s skills, making it easier for them to communicate on the court, but model that the coach places an emphasis on teamwork. When the players see that the adult on the court finds passing and interaction important, they begin to see it as important, too.
There are multiple types of passes, with the number and complexity of variations increasing as players get older and skill level increases. However, the most common types of passes among youth basketball players are chest passes, bounce passes, overhead passes, and wrap around (also known as step around) passes. No matter the type of pass or type of drill, there are some key points that the coach should focus on:
-Players should always step forward when passing and receiving a pass.
-Players should always follow through when passing, just like when shooting.
Three Man Weave
The three man weave is a classic drill that requires both mental focus and hand-eye coordination. Three players are required to complete the drill. The players should line up across the baseline of the court-one at each end and one in the middle. The player in the middle starts with the ball and passes a chest pass to either player. They then run behind the player they passed to (to the end of the baseline) and continue jogging down the court. The player who received the ball passes to their third person, and repeats the motion of running behind the person they passed to, continuing down the court. The process continues down the length of the court. At the end, the players can reverse, or conclude and jog down the court. This drill can be run as a team drill, with lines of players at the three points along the baseline continuing the drill. When the first group gets to half court, the next group can begin.
Machine Gun Passing
Four players are required for the Machine Gun drill. Players 1,2, and 3 stand in a line, about 4-5 feet apart. Player 4 stands in front of them, about 12-15 feet away from the rest of the players. Player 4 and player 1 will start with a ball. Player 4 starts the drill by passing (pass of the coach’s choosing) the ball to player 3. As soon as player 4 releases the ball, they receive a pass from player 1. Next, 4 passes to 2, with 3 returning the ball to 4 as soon as the pass leaves their hands. The drill continues down the line and can continue for a certain number of sets or over a course of set time.
A high percentage of scoring in basketball happens under the hoop. Great outside shots are nice, but many opportunities come around the basket in traffic, especially the younger the players are. This is why it is important to show youth players the necessity of strong post skills, whether they are playing in the post position or passing into it. One effective post skills drill is a mini scrimmage. 3 players are needed for this practice. One player acts as the post position. The second is the post defender. The third is the passer, situated generally around the corner of the foul line, or in another location of the coach’s preference. The defender plays active defense while the post player practices posting up and indicates where they would like to receive a pass. The passer must make a practical, effective pass for the post player to score.
Passing is a fundamental basketball skill that should be ingrained in youth players. Basketball drills that focus on passing are an essential component of player development for youth basketball coaches.