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Four Important Rules of Passing

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Rule #1 - Look for the Open Player

Nobody enjoys playing basketball with someone who doesn't pass the ball to open teammates. We all know that on every team there are a few players that are usually more talented than others. Just because player A is more talented than player B does not mean the shot should always be taken by player A. A few years ago I was playing in a city league and we were in the championship game.

The game was tied and I was determined to beat my man and get a basket to win the game. As I drove to the basket I saw an open teammate and out of instinct I passed him the ball. It caught him off-guard and he missed the shot. Before overtime he came up to me and was upset at me because I didn't shoot the ball. He said that me shooting the ball with 3 defenders in my face was better than him shooting with nobody on him.

I got his point, but as a teammate it was my job to get the best shot possible and I'd do the same thing today. Nobody likes to play with a ball hog.

Rule #2 - Trust Your Teammates

I knew the guy I was passing to might not make the shot, but I wanted him to feel like I trusted him. It paid off later in the game as we went on to win in overtime. I know it is city league, but it is still an illustration of how to execute in the great game of basketball. Trust the players you are playing with and build that up. Don't tear it down because nobody will want to play with you.

If you are more talented than most of your teammates realize that it is a guaranteed fact that somewhere on another court there are players twice as good as you and hopefully you'll have the chance to play at their level. When you reach that level you have got to know how to play team basketball and execute.

Rule #3 - Learn and then Practice Solid Fundamentals

When you pass, take a strong step toward the player you are passing to. Don't throw it flat footed. Throw the ball with a purpose and learn to snap it to the wing or throw a solid entry pass to the post. Try to avoid slow soft passes as they turn out bad. All these fundamentals can be practiced. I had a toss back that I used in high school that was my best friend.

It was my only friend that stayed after practice with me and I would throw pass after pass into the net until my arms hurt. Every school should have one for practices. I loved the toss back. The other night I was watching some old high school tapes of mine. Yes, I still like to live in the glory days. I was watching games when I was a sophomore, playing varsity and I was sickened.

It was my first real year playing point guard and I threw change ups to the wing players. Terrible, slow passes that the defense would miss by inches each time. But as the year progressed you could see my progression as a player and I was proud of that. I was proud that a coach taught me the simple fundamental of throwing a crisp pass. It makes so much of a difference. You'll be amazed.

Rule #4 - Work Hard

It doesn't come easy but is something that can be improved with hard work. You won't wake up and be a good passer. It will only come through work and study. I made it a point to really have a grasp of my offense because if I knew where my teammates would be and where they liked to get the ball then we would have a great chance of winning the game. Watch game tapes when possible. Watch how the defense reacts to certain plays.

Watch to see where your teammates like to shoot from on the floor. Watch for areas of obvious improvement like passing angles and spacing. Those things are so easily corrected that a small adjustment will make you better for it. Remember that coaches look at assist to turnover ratio and they really monitor point guards with that. They look at a 3:1 ratio as being solid. The higher the better as that means that you would have 3 assists for every turnover. If you are 1:3 then you have problems and you'll soon be sitting on the bench if you aren't already.

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