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Passing – How to improve the passing ability of your players

Who did not like to watch the San Antonio Spurs passing in 2014? If no doubt they were the best teams playing in the last years, and the big difference between them and the other ones was the passing ability.

This team shows how to be possible winning basketball games where the ability in passing the ball predominate. Therefore, I bring information’s that I took by studying this team. 

How do we pass the ball?

Passing the ball to a teammate, many times cannot be pass anyway, if the way we pass the ball is neglect we will turn over the ball. For such is necessary to domain the different types of passing, and the evolution of the intensity of the game bring a necessary evolution of different types of passes.

Thus, I present different types of passes that I consider the most used in the game:

  • Chest pass with two hands

Has the name says, passing the ball from my chest to the chest of my teammate. For such, it is determinant to accomplish some of the technical aspects like arms outstretched and away from each other, rotate the wrists and finish with hands facing out, for the last end up with the thumbs point to the floor.

  • Side Pass

The side pass, has the same goal as the chest pass, only slightly deflecting an arm of the defender. To do this we must pass with the hand furthest from the defender. It is important to hold the ball with both hands and advance with just one, stretching your arm, rotating your wrist, and ending with your hand inwards.

  • Bounce Lateral Pass

The bounce side pass is the same as the side pass except that before reaching the receiver it will hit the ground.

  • Overhead Pass

Passing over the head is often confused with the pass over the head or the well-known throw of football. It must be done on top of the head to the receiver’s chest.

  • Pocket Pass

This type of pass has been used more and more, especially when we want to make a bounce but a short pass. As the name indicates the pass is made from the “pocket” of the shorts, it will hit the ground before reaching the receiver, it is important to end the hand inward, rotating the wrist.

How to use different types of passes?

In the basketball game, it is not enough to master the different types of passes but also the two ways of passing the ball, passing without dribbling, when we are putting the ball back in play or when we receive the ball from another player. This way of passing the ball is that generally, all players learn first not because it is easier to learn but because we need it to master the other way of passing.

The other way is to pass the ball after the dribble. In this way, we can pass in two ways, be dribbling, grab the ball to better control and pass, or be dribbling and with one hand make the pass. The first way is how we can guarantee more security to do it and the second is always riskier. Both have to be mastered.

To recap, I define 3 levels of ability to pass the ball:

Infographic about Levels of Passing ability

What to do to master the three levels?

It is important to realize that players are not going to be able to master these levels overnight, and this does not work like a video game that if we move to the next level we cannot go back. For this, it is essential to start at the first level and we will always progressively increase the levels and increase the stimuli, but we must not forget that if we reach the last level, we cannot stop working on the previous level, because when we need to execute it in-game we will not be able to do.

To facilitate the previous interpretation, the teaching of the previous levels is synonymous with teaching players to “walk” (Level 1 and Level 2) and teaching players to “run” (Level 3). If we don’t know how to walk, we won’t be able to run.

To help your players improve these three levels, I bring 3 exercises:

1st Drill: Passing in S

Basketball Drill - Passing: Passing in S

The exercise begins with 3 players at the end of the field, divided into three columns, two in each corner and one in the middle. Player 1 moves to 2 and runs to the free cone, 2 moves to 3, and runs to the free cone. So on until you reach the last cone that makes the cut from the front.

This exercise is best suited to teach you how to “walk” and we can work with all types of passes, together with footwork.

2nd Drill: Passing to attack

Basketball Drill - Passing: Passing to attack

The exercise at first may seem a little complicated but it is quite simple. It aims to work on level 2 and level 3 passes, teaching players to “walk” and “run”.

The exercise begins with 4 columns, one in each corner of the field. Two columns on one side of the field without a ball and on the other side all with a ball except the first in a column.

Basketball Drill - Passing: Passing to attack

Player 1 and player 4 advance; 1 changes to 4; 4 when receiving dribbles and passes the ball after the dribble to the “V” work of player 2 and goes behind the line of player 6; Player 2, when receiving, attacks the basket, finishes, catches his rebound and goes behind the line of player 5 (1st graph).

At the moment when player 4 will pass the ball to player 2, player 8 will dribble and pass to player 1. Player 1 on receiving will do the same work that player 4 did but involving player 3 (2nd graphic). And so on.

3rd Drill: 5 on 5 Full Court without dribble

This exercise seems very simple and probably an exercise for mini-basketball, however, the change of rules makes it an exercise to develop the intelligence of the pass in the players.´

Game rules:

  • They cannot dribble.
  • There is no minimum number of passes to throw to the basket.
  • Both teams can score on both baskets.
  • All other rules, support, field lines, launches, among others, remain the same.

For the exercise to go smoothly, I advise you to limit the number of points of the winning team, that is, the first team to reach 8 points wins. It will not only bring greater intensity due to increased competitiveness but also the pressure on the teams to “win”.

Ready to improve the passing ability of your players?

I hope you have understood the levels of passing ability and the types of passes. More important than any exercise, its dynamics, is the application of the technical gesture and the development of the technical gesture. Remember that before teaching how to run (Level 3) you must teach how to walk (Level 1 and 2).

If you have already used these exercises, or defined these and other levels, or have any more ideas to add to those presented, leave your comment!

Good practices!

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