Newsletter #204

January 6, 2021

Today's Quote:  It doesn't matter who scores the points, it's who can get the ball to the scorer." - Larry Bird


Today's Theme:  Tips for Better Passing

Poor passing destroys offense, resulting in possessions with no shots and breakaway lay-ups for your opponent.  You can do specific passing drills, but I like treating every drill as a passing drill. Most shooting drills, transition drills and other offense-defense drills involve some passing.  Stress the importance of good passing - every drill, every day.

Make a bad pass have consequences, perhaps push-ups or laps for that player. There are two components of every pass - the pass and the reception. The bad pass might a passing error, a receiving error, or both.

Passing Fundamentals:

1. Good passes are "on-time and on-target"- caught in a spot on the court where something good can happen, not in traffic.  "On target", is where the receiver can easily catch it and execute. If the pass is a little too high, too low, or a little off line, it might be caught, but the brief second required for the receiver to gather the ball allows the defender to adjust, and now the open shot is not there. 

For post players the target is up higher near the player's face where he/she can catch and "chin the ball" with elbows up and out, ready to make a move.

2. See the defense. Avoid passing into traffic. "Pass away from the defense". How do you improve court vision?  Teach players triple-threat position, and they will see things better.

3.  Make the sure pass  - not a risky pass that might not be caught, or might be deflected or intercepted.

4.  Keep it simple  - make the easiest pass that will get the job done, usually a two-handed, sure pass. One-handed passes are often errant with side-spin and are not caught.  Having said that, one-handed passes are good to use for a curl-bounce pass into the low-post, or when attacking on the fast-break. The behind the back pass is fun and sometimes is the correct pass to make, but most often the best pass is the simple two-handed pass.

5.  Use pass-fakes. Bob Knight has said that the pass fake is one of the most overlooked, and under taught fundamentals. A good pass fake can get the defense to shift, often opening a passing lane.

6.  Don't hurry - don't force!  Bad-passing often comes from players being in a hurry. We want our players to sprint up the court and fast-break, but they must recognize when the shot off the break is not there, to bring the ball back out and run the offense.

7.  Keep grounded - avoid jump passes.  Sometimes a jump-pass can be the correct pass, but often it results in a turnover. We don't want players making decisions in mid-air. The jump-pass is often the result of a player being in a hurry.

8.  Use the dribble to create a passing lane.  A wing player can open up a passing lane into the low-post by making one dribble either left or right before making the pass inside. Or make a dribble-drive, draw in the helpside defense, and then make a kick-out pass to an open perimeter player.

Catching - Receiving Fundamentals

1.  Catch the ball with two hands - whenever possible.

2.  Use a hand target.  Teach receivers to use a hand signal, holding a hand up as a target.  This helps avoid the mis-communication.

3.  Meet the pass.  Receivers should move toward the ball, with hands ready.

4.  Catch in triple-threat position - where you can see the court, look into the post, see cutters and see the defense. Triple-threat position helps reign-in a player that tends to rush and hurry things.

5.  "Ball in the air, feet in the air" - catch the ball with a jump-stop and establish a pivot foot.  See video clip.

See:  Tips for Better Passing

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