The fastest way to get a basketball from point A to point B is by passing.
And let’s not forget… basketball is a team sport. Unless you’re LeBron in a college game, chances are you’re going to need to move the ball around to find space and gaps to make those lower percentage shots.
If you can’t pass, you’re going to need to work on it.
Here are 7 Simple Ways you can improve your passing skills.
This is more directed at beginners who have no idea what they’re doing, and need any sort of guidance to improve their overall play.
Types of Passing
This is fairly straightforward, but the most common forms of passing usually fall under two different criteria. These are the two passes you NEED to perfect at a beginner’s level.
Chest Passes – are passes that start around your chest area, and are thrown directly to your teammate. This is usually done without any curve or arc on the ball, thrown hard and fast without bouncing.
Bounce Passes – are passes exactly what you think they are. They are released around waist/chest area and are bounced along the ground into your team mate’s hands. In some circumstances, it’s the best way to get the basketball to your teammate as defenders can’t react to get their hands on the ball quick enough.
#1 Two Hands
Best way to have full control over the basketball is by passing with two hands.
Not only that, but using two hands allows for more power to be put in the pass.
Of course, you won’t be able to dribble with two hands (double dribble rule), but by putting both hands on the ball when passing, it’s a lot easier to put backspin on the ball – making it easier to catch.
Obviously, you shouldn’t only be focusing on putting backspin though. Your main focus with every pass should be that it hits the target.
One handed passes should only be implemented when absolutely necessary.
#2 Importance of your Wrists
At any stage before releasing the ball, ideally you want to have full control that allows you to change your decision, and opt not to pass.
This means that it will make it very difficult for the defenders to read and intercept your passes.
In order to get this control, you need to release the ball by uncocking your wrists.
As a result, you should be initiating your pass with your arms, but maintain full grip of the ball until you want to let go with your wrists.
It’s a small trait, that will require some practice.
But when mastered, it’s an extremely effective skill to have, and will improve your passing percentage ten fold.
#3 Step into Your Passes
Every pass you throw needs to have a good amount of velocity and power behind it.
This ensures that defenders aren’t easily able to get in the way to tap the ball away for a turnover, or even worse, intercept.
A great little tip to ensure maximum velocity on the ball, as well as control, is by stepping into your pass.
When passing, you want to be stepping towards the receiver of the ball.
It might feel awkward when you first start, but with more practice, stepping into your pass should become second nature.
Check out this pass by Kevin Love. Chest Pass. Two hands. Stepping into his pass. Beautiful.
#4 Follow Through
You can probably notice it as well with the above gif.
Following through with your hands is just as important as stepping into your pass.
This aids the power and velocity you can put on the ball, as well as the overall direction that you want the ball to go in.
When you actually step into your pass, it feels super awkward if you don’t follow through with your hands.
But in the event that your form is compromised due to good defending from the opposition, it’s still important that you follow through with your hands.
Like shooting, keeping a mental note to follow through is good for muscle memory in your early stages.
#5 Make Judgements in Your Head
It’s no good passing to an opponent.
Nor is it good passing to a teammate who’s either not ready, nor in the right spot to receive the pass.
This comes down to your in-game knowledge and determination of what the highest percentage pass is.
If your teammate is in a tustle behind a defender in a good position, and it’s the only pass that’s on – there’s no point passing a flat chest pass.
Add some height and arc on your pass to get it over the defender as best as you can.
If there a wide open team mate squaring up for a shot. No defender in sight? Don’t be a hero. Play the easy pass.
The low percentage passes should only be attempted where it’s the only option.
Retaining possession is key to getting a shot off. Pass to your open teammate.
#6 Pass Away from Defenders
Again, another simple tip. But a tip that will increase your passing percentage by a whole heap.
Depending on the tactics that the opposing team has, passing lanes and channels might be blocked.
Similarly, defenders may try man-to-man in order to knock away passes and force the turnovers.
Either way, to avoid these potentials from becoming a reality, you need to pass away from defenders to open teammates.
Further, passing to the side that the defender cannot defend will ensure that your team retains possession – whilst reducing the possibility of tipped passes.
#7 Team Spacing
Finally, this is a thing that the team needs to work on as a whole.
There’s no point having teammates spread right across the field for every pass.
It may work sometimes, creating great switch of plays that land easy buckets. But typically, the longer the passes are, the easier it is to put too little/too much power on the pass, and the easier the pass is to intercept.
A good passing team will always aim to shorten the pass.
A team needs to understand that short passes are usually higher percentage passes that will retain team possession as best as possible.
Learn what the optimum distance is between teammates before a pass is made.
With lots of practice, focusing on the fundamentals, maybe one day you’ll be able to master the art of complex passes such as these.
Whilst these tips are more suited to beginners, they’re absolutely integral to improving your overall passing percentage.
These basketball passing tips won’t make you a world beater overnight, but they will certainly get you started on the right track.