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How Basketball Players Can Become Better Passers

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Passing Mindset

This is something I believe players can be born with. I think John Stockton, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird all were extremely gifted as passers and some of that was inherited.

However, the passing mindset is something that can be worked on.

When I'm working with young players I tell them to really think about the purpose of offense every time they have the ball.

Think about how the point is to get the best shot possible closest to the basket or any shot that is uncontested.

When players realize this they really start to get a sense of what to look for.

I love faking a pass to the wing to get the zone to shift and then hit the high post who in turn hits a low post man who sealed his defender as a result of the fake pass.

That may not make sense right now but good passers will see how one pass will lead to another. It is contagious and if you understand this it will lead to more playing time. Study the defense, make good reads, create good angles and don't be afraid to throw the ball. If a player is open get it to him.

Wing Pass

I played in typical offenses where the plays revolved around getting the ball to the wing. When I was a wing player I had to be good at getting open so my point guard could get me a good pass. I used that later in life when I became the point guard.

The first key is to make sure that you have a good angle to get the ball to the wing and that the spacing is correct. Never be close enough to your own teammate that one defender can guard 2 people. The point guard or anyone passing to the wing should rarely be on the same level as the wing player. They should be above and have a direct line. Throw this pass with a purpose and try to avoid the bounce pass whenever possible because it can be too slow and get picked off.

This is a pass that has been forgotten about by many. A good wing player should be excellent at this and most aren't. It simply isn't practiced as much as it should. I coach it by making sure that you are reading the defense correctly.

A good post player will get both his hands and elbows up to secure position. A good defender will pick a side and play the post a certain direction. On defense I coach to force things to the middle while others like to coach to use the baseline. Read the defense and if the defender is playing baseline side then throw it where the defense isn't, but you have to read the defense and make a smart pass.

After reading the defense, obtain the correct angle to throw the ball. This is where most mistakes are made and I blame it on laziness. Sometimes you need to dribble to get the correct angle but instead some players will throw it and hope for the best. An example is the defender playing top side defense and giving up the baseline to the post player.

What should you do as a player with the ball on the wing? I coach for the wing to take a hard dribble to the baseline side to create a better angle to throw the pass. If you throw it from the wing it gives the defense a much better angle to knock it away. They will knock it away and you'll end up on the bench.

This can be practiced by having the wing players throw contested passes to the post players who are being guarded in a variety of ways underneath. It teaches players how to read the defense and react to the situation. By the way, don't float the pass to the post. The softer the pass, the more time it gives the defense to react and defend it.

Ball Fakes

A ball fake is exactly what it sounds like. It's a fake pass. Fake passes make the defense shift and adjust and as a result it opens up passing lanes. When a point guard is being pressured and the defense is guessing a lot, I coach them to fake a pass to get the defense to react.

Sometimes the most minor shift will open up everything for the offense. This is extremely effective against tough pressure and against a zone. This is something that is practiced through experience. Make it a regular part of your offense because it keeps the defense on their heels and always guessing.

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