Developing good passing skills in basketball is imperative to any player. Passing allows you to retain control of the ball and can create easy shots and lay-ups. A team that can pass effectively will not only get into better positions during a match but will also expend far less energy in doing so. On the other hand, a team which utilises poor passing techniques will suffer greatly as one bad pass often leads to another, with the recipient off balance and lacking control.
Why make a pass?
Sometimes it can be all too tempting to go for glory on the basketball court, even if you’re not in a great position. However, passing travels much faster than dribbling (and also imposes stricter control on the ball), so if you see a teammate ahead of you in an open position, pass the ball to them. This is much more likely to result in success. Passing is also a necessary skill to use when being heavily defended in an attacking area, even if you think you are in a good position.
Types of passing
There are numerous different types of basketball pass but some are used more often and generally have a greater impact on the game than others.
The chest pass
This is the safest and most accurate pass you can use. It is safe because higher passes which loop upwards are likely to be intercepted by the opposing team. Chest level is also the easiest area of the body to receive a pass. Passes that arrive below chest level are difficult to catch and are likely to be less controlled.
To perform a chest pass, hold the basketball close to your chest, with your fingers spread around the ball. As you push the ball to your teammate (after making eye contact with them to ensure they realise the pass is about to be made), take a step forward and extend your arms sharply. As your arms straighten after releasing the ball, snap your wrists inward. Your thumbs should be together and pointing downwards, whereas your fingers should always follow the direction of your target.
The overhead pass
Despite dangers of interception, the overhead pass can be useful for getting the ball over defenders who are marking you tightly. It can also be used with success when there is an obvious height difference between you and the defender.
To perform an overhead pass, hold the ball above your head using your fingers to cup it. When making the pass, release the ball from behind your head rather than directly over it. Make sure you exaggerate the flicking movement in your fingers and wrists as this will provide much of the power in the pass.
The bounce pass
This pass is useful when you are being tightly marked or when you are dribbling with the ball because you will already have forward momentum with which to power the pass.
To perform a bounce pass, firstly draw the defender to one side of you by faking a move, then pass the ball under their outstretched arms. Keep your centre of gravity low in order to complete this move successfully. To keep the ball down, push it with your fingers in the direction of your teammate. Always check your angles when making a bounce pass: ensure the ball hits the ground two-thirds of the distance towards your teammate.
The behind the back pass
Other types of passes which are used less often include the behind the back pass, which refers to the skill of placing the ball behind your back with one hand and then flicking your wrist in the direction you wish the ball to travel. This is an excellent deceptive pass and useful in tight situations.