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Passing 101 - Basic Tips on Passing a Basketball

May 1, 2017


It's no secret that passing is one of the most important fundamentals of the game of basketball. When a team passes the ball well, they get more open looks and score more points. This guide identifies and explains the most common passes that should be used in the game of basketball.


Chest Pass

A chest pass is delivered from one chest to another. It is thrown using your fingers. After the pass is thrown your thumbs should end up pointing down. Others throw this pass with a hand on top using thumbs. That is ok as well.


A chest pass with thumbs will create a knuckle effect, while a regular chest pass will create backspin. Throw this pass with zip. Never float a chest pass unless it is completely necessary or when touch is needed. But if you are throwing a pass to a wing player then get something on it. Pass the ball so that the player catching it is in position to shoot it.


Bounce Pass

I lived in Iowa when Dr. Tom Davis was the coach at the University of Iowa. Coach Davis was a great man who had a strong feeling about the bounce pass. He would throw it everywhere. His players were really drilled on the importance of the bounce pass. Now, I don't understand his love for the bounce pass but it definitely has a place in the game of basketball.


This is thrown with the same mechanics as a chest pass only this pass should end up at your teammate's waist. You can't float a bounce pass as it slows the ball down. You must throw the bounce pass with a purpose because it will slow the play down. When on a fast break it can be used to lead a player. But I hesitate to allow a point guard to throw a bounce pass to a wing player because of its lack of speed.


Baseball or Football Pass

It depends on who throws this and how your coach uses terminology. It is the same pass and has a time and a place. The baseball pass, (I was a baseball player also) is thrown like a baseball and is used for two purposes. One is for a long pass and the second is for a pass that needs that extra zip to get there.


On a long pass that is going over a defender, the ball just needs to be thrown high enough and where only the offense can catch it. On a pass that needs some extra zip, a baseball pass is one where you must be prepared to throw it. Have the ball ready and up by your head. If you are sitting there with the ball at your waist you won't have time to get the ball up to zip it to your teammate.

I will say that if you are throwing your chest pass with zip then you won't really have a great need for the baseball pass. I can throw a two hand chest pass very far and with something on it because I've worked at it. This pass needs a lot of practicing.


Behind the Back Pass

A lot of people think that this pass is about being a hot dog but it has a purpose. Did you ever see John Stockton throw a lot of behind the back passes? Of course not, because it doesn't always have its place.


I coach players to practice it because it can be a useful pass in certain situations and I'm all about preparation. Take the ball in your strong hand and rest it. Take the ball behind your back and rest it again. Simply 'flick' your wrist and the ball will go. This isn't easy at first but that is why I coach people to learn this in 3 steps. Some of you will take right to it and go for it while others won't.

I would stand against a wall sideways and pass it behind the back over and over again. I would do two sets of 50 passes with each hand. By the second set your wrists will be tired but your level of comfort will increase with each set. As you get more comfortable you get more confident. Work at these basics before going after the hard stuff.

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