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Critical Basketball Passing Tips

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When it comes to passing, most players and young coaches flat out don't give it the time and attention it deserves. The reason it doesn't get much attention is because of the fact that it's such a simple facet of the game. It's pretty simple to define what a pass is and it's fairly easy to learn the proper passing fundamentals.

What players and coaches need to realize is that there is so much more to passing than just getting the ball to a teammate. The timing, speed and execution of passes can literally make or break an offense. It can mean the difference of a team looking like a well-oiled, scoring machine or a sloppy, undisciplined mess.

It's important to note that I'm not talking about the obvious. It's easy to understand that if you make horrible passes the offense will sputter and look awful. That's a given.

What I'm talking about are subtle things that pertain to passing that 90% of the time will go completely unnoticed to the untrained eye. There are games I will watch and be completely disgusted with how my team is passing and when I verbalize it to the average person, they have no idea why I'm so upset.

A bad pass doesn't always result in a turnover. A bad pass doesn't always get deflected. A bad pass will however, always lessen the chance that you will get an open shot and score a basket.

There are 3 specific things that need to be stressed very hard in order for you to really be effective in the passing game. These things should be worked on and stressed in practice CONSTANTLY. Teams that understand and then execute well in these 3 areas, usually have smooth, potent offenses.

Speed / Velocity

There's an appropriate time, place and speed for each pass thrown. Players need to be aware of when to use a soft pass, when to use a crisp pass and when to really put zip on the ball. When you are getting the ball into a post player down low a soft lob pass is often necessary. When a shooter is coming off of a screen they need a good crisp pass that's not too soft or too hard in order to get a shot off in rhythm. When the ball is passed around the perimeter it needs to have a lot of zip on it and thrown with authority. If it's thrown too soft around the perimeter the defense can easily shift with the pass and it becomes hard to create an open shot. Teach your players the appropriate times and places for each pass. It may sound like common sense but many young players throw every one of their passes at the same speed and have no idea what the negative consequences are.

Timing

The whole objective on offense is to get an open shot. The amount of time a player is left open is often very minimal. If a pass is thrown to the perfect spot, at the perfect speed, 1 second too late or 1 second too early, the open shot will likely either not be there or will be much more difficult than it would have been if the pass were on time. Most players just memorize where they are supposed to throw the passes in their offensive system. They also need to be reminded everyday how important it is to make their passes in rhythm. Teach them when each pass should be thrown and why.

Location

Most people think that if the player they are passing to catches their pass that it's an acceptable pass. This is very far from the truth and it needs to be stressed every practice. Think about a player coming up the key and then getting a screen set for him somewhere above the free throw line.

Another player has the ball on the wing and sees this player pop out from the screen wide open for a jumper. He makes a bounce pass but the pass is thrown a few inches to the left of him. He will be able to catch the pass very easily but after he gathers himself and turns his feet, he's squaring up for a jumper that is just barely inside the three point line - not to mention he's not in rhythm anymore. Whereas, if the pass were thrown a few inches to the right of his body he could square up in rhythm and have a nice jumper attempt at the corner of the free throw line.

A much easier shot attempt than the former. Can you see how important location is? Have you ever seen a team have a horrible shooting night? Of course you have. Well, often times it's all due to sloppy passes like this that go on all night that are just a few inches off. Not off nearly enough for the average person to even notice. Coaches need to keep a watchful eye on the precision of their player's passes. Stress that they need to be in a good location so that when they are caught their teammates can immediately do what they want with the ball - all in rhythm.

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