Coach's Clipboard Newsletter #127
February 1, 2018
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Dear Coaches, Players, Friends,

Today's Quotes:

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

Today's Theme - 10 Tips for Improving Your Team's Passing

A hallmark of a good team is good passing.  Many turnovers result from poor passing.  Here are some thoughts regarding better passing.

What is a good pass?  - A good pass is one that is caught in a spot on the court where something good can happen.  A pass might be "on target" but if it's too hard for the receiver to catch, it's not a good pass.  Or if the receiver is surrounded by defenders, it's not a good pass.

"On-target" - A good pass needs to be delivered precisely in the right place, where the receiver can easily catch it and execute.  If a pass is a little too high, too low, or a little off to the side, 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.  Teach your players to pass the ball precisely where the receiver can use it to score... "on-target".   Most often the target is the "shooting pocket" where one would place the ball in triple-threat position.

When passing into the post, we want the target up higher near the post player's face... he/she can usually catch this pass and "chin the ball" with elbows up and out, or go right up with the shot.  Post players have difficulty catching passes below the waist.  We always used to teach the bounce pass for feeding the post, and it's still a good pass if it's not below the post player's waist.  But you now see more teams making the air pass to the post player's upper body or head area.

"See the defense" - Passers have to develop their court vision, "see the defense", and avoid passing into traffic.  Teach players to "pass away from the defense".  How do you improve court vision?  Teach players on the perimeter to get in triple-threat position, and they will see things better.

Make the "sure" pass - Players should make the "sure", easy pass... not a risky pass that might not be caught, or might be deflected or intercepted, or has only a 50% chance of success.

Keep it simple - Make the easiest pass that will get the job done... usually a two-handed, sure pass.  Many players nowadays are throwing one-handed passes which are often not caught, either because the pass is errant, or because the ball has sideways spin making it difficult to catch.  Having said that, one-handed passes are good to use for a curl-bounce 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.

Use pass-fakes - Players must learn how to make a good pass-fake.  This is an often overlooked and under-taught, important fundamental skill.  A passer can get the defense to move or shift simply by faking a pass in another direction, and this will often open up the intended passing lane.   Teaching pass-faking also teaches players not to "telegraph" their passes.

Don't hurry - patience! - Much bad-passing comes from players being in a hurry, and this is often a problem with young, inexperienced teams.  Your offense must learn to be patient.  We do want our players to sprint up the court for easy fast-break lay-ups as much as possible.  But when the good shot off the break is not there, they have to recognize this, run the offense patiently and get a good shot.  Teach players to catch the ball in triple-threat position and look into the post, look at cutters and see the floor before dribbling or passing.

Keep grounded - avoid the jump-pass - a player dribble-drives, ends the dribble with a leap into the air, and then passes while in mid-air -- the "jump-pass".  I think kids see this on TV and think the jump-pass is a sign of athleticism.   More often than not, it results in a turnover.  Teach passers to stay grounded and make good, controlled two-handed passes.

Receivers use a hand signal or hand target - Teach the receiver to use a hand signal, holding a hand up as a target for the pass.  This helps avoid the problem of the passer passing the ball out-of-bounds just as the intended receiver starts to a cut in another direction.  When the cutter starts the cut, he/she drops target hand down, and puts it back up when ready to receive the pass.

Use the dribble to create a passing lane - For example, a player in triple-threat position on the wing can sometimes open up a passing lane into the low-post by making one dribble either left or right before making the pass inside.  Dribble-penetration sucks in the helpside defenders and opens shooters on the opposite arc.

To make accurate passing a priority, make all of your shooting drills passing drills, insisting on good passes to the shooter... no lazy passing... EVER!  Also try the "Bennett drill".

Also see The Art of Passing

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Till next time...
Best wishes,
Dr. Jim Gels, aka "Coach Gels"
The Coach's Clipboard
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