I have been fortunate enough to coach several great post players over the course of my career and each one has been a little bit different in terms of size, strength, body type, mobility, etc. However, they have all had one thing in common - they have all been frustrated beyond belief when they are wide open in the post and the guard or wing can't get them the ball! Then, because some guards can't pass the ball inside consistently without getting it deflected or stolen, they won't even bother to look inside, which effectively takes away one whole facet of our offense.
We can't go inside - outside, can't get the opposing post player in foul trouble, and our own post players wonder out loud why I even bother making them spend so much time working on scoring moves around the basket. Now before you decide this article isn't for you, please consider this - passing, especially passing into the post, is one of the most under taught and under learned skills in the game. Mastering this skill could give you a huge advantage over the other players who are competing to play your position. Lots of players can shoot, and even more can handle the ball, but how many can really pass?
Here are 5 concepts that we try to teach all of our players, but especially those on the perimeter:
1. Know your post player
Not all post players are created and a thorough knowledge of how yours operates can help make you a better passer. Does he have good hands? Can the pass be outside of his body or does it need to hit him squarely on the numbers? Does he normally get into scoring position quickly or does it take him a couple seconds longer before he's ready. (It drives me crazy to see a wing reverse the ball to the top a split second before the post player gets open.)
2. Be strong with the ball
Be a passer not a "protector." If you allow a defender to force you back on your heels then it will be nearly impossible to pass the ball into the post. Catch the ball, square up in triple threat position, and rip the ball through from one side to the other, preferably at knee level or below. Rip it through so hard that the defender runs the risk of breaking his hand if he reaches in and tries to steal the ball.
3. Follow your internal clock
Legally you have almost 10 full seconds to make the pass if you happen to need that much time. Hold the ball for four seconds, take one dribble, and then take up to nearly five more seconds if necessary. That's a lot of time so there is no need to panic and make a rushed pass that you're not completely sure is open.
4. Fake down and then pass the ball right by the defender's ear
Once you have ripped the ball through, slowly, fake a bounce pass and patiently wait for the defender to react. If the defender puts his hand down to stop the faked pass then bring the ball up quickly and throw the ball right by his ear. In all my years of coaching I have never seen a defender move his head over to block the pass with his face! (The key here is to make the fake slowly in order to get the defender's hand down.) If the defender doesn't go for the fake and keeps his hands up then throw the bounce pass.
5. Be an offensive threat
It's much more difficult to pass into the post if your defender is dropped off of you instead of playing up tight. If you are a legitimate threat to shoot the ball (the deeper the range the better) your defender will have no choice but to get up into you. It's not a coincidence that some of the game's best shooters are also extremely effective passers.