How to Pass a Basketball

There is nothing more gratifying than making a great pass to a teammate that leads to a bucket and the crowd goes crazy. Okay, I may be a bit bias a point guard but it still is a great feeling. I wish more players took pride in being a great passer but that discussion is for another time. For now, I want to teach you how to be a great passer and someone every player in the country would love to play with. I can remember being recruited to play for some of the best travel teams because they knew I could run the team, and make sure everyone got the ball where they needed to. Heck, I even made a living off of it, now it’s time for you to make your teammates better and the crowd goes crazy.

Fundamental Passing

The chest, bounce and overhead passes are the three variations every player must have. If you cannot be accurate with these three then you have no business throwing one handed, behind the back or no-look passes. As always, perfect the fundamentals, and then proceed to the fun stuff.

With the chest pass, it is imperative that you are able to hit your teammate directly in the chest at a good speed. Too slow and the defense will steal it, too fast and your teammate will drop it. Judge the distance, remain accurate and deliver it into the shooting pocket. Hint… every player is different, learn their comfort zone and they will love you even more.

Passing Against Defense

The overhead and bounce pass are great alternatives when playing against defense. The overhead pass is mainly used when playing against a smaller opponent, or to throw the ball across the court at a greater velocity. The bounce pass is used when defenders are bigger and longer, or delivering a pass at close proximity.

The defense main objective is to make you rush and make a bad decision. Remaining poised and remembering your fundamentals will be the difference between a good pass and a turnover. When in doubt, make the safe pass to the open teammate and keep possession of the ball. Refrain from “threading the needle” or making the risky pass until you have the green light from the coach.

Creating Assists

Being a good passer comes from reading the defense and being able to anticipate where they will be. If a defender is denying your shooting guard, you have to be able to make that perfect bounce pass when he tries to back door. If the high-flying wing is running with you on the break, you have to know that he wants a lob rather than a bounce pass. If you drive to the basket and your shooter is in the opposite corner, you have to find a way to get it to him.

This area of expertise is called Knowing Your Personnel, more commonly known as KYP. KYP is essential for all point guards but every other position can benefit from the knowledge as well. Understanding your teammates will be the difference between averaging 4 assists and 8 assists a game. Know which guards are slashers and shooters, which block your big man likes to score from, what plays get a teammate an open shot and what spots on the floor every teammate wants it from. This knowledge will increase the teams scoring ability as a whole and make you an even more valuable asset.

Passing builds team chemistry and generates easier scoring abilities. Develop your fundamentals, read the defense and know your teammates strengths and weaknesses like the back of your hand.


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