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December 15, 2013     Newsletter #26

Dear Coaches, Players, Friends,

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 is "Passing Turnovers - 10 Tips to Avoid Them"
Many turnovers are the result of poor passing. Here are some thoughts...

1. 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 pass is caught by the receiver, but he/she is surrounded by defenders, it's not a good pass. Another example is a pass to a back-cutter... we want to deliver the pass early in the back-cut and not wait until the cutter is already near the basket.

2. "On-target"
A good pass needs to be delivered precisely in the right place, "on target", 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. However, 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 a difficult time catching and using passes below their 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 and more teams making the air pass to the post player's upper body or head area.

3. "See the defense"
Passers have to develop their court vision and "see the defense", and avoid passing into traffic where there are two or three defenders waiting. We want 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.

4. 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. 5. Keep it simple
Players should always keep things simple... make the easiest pass that will get the job done... usually a two-handed, sure pass. So many players nowadays are throwing one-handed passes and these are often simply not caught, either because the pass is errant, or perhaps because the ball has a 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.

6. Use pass-fakes
Players must learn how to make a good pass-fake. This is an often overlooked, important fundamental skill that needs to be taught. 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.

7. 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 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, bring the ball back out on top and 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.

8. Keep grounded - avoid the jump-pass
How often do you see a player attacking with the dribble and ending the dribble with a leap into the air, and then deciding to make a pass while in mid-air? -- the "jump-pass". I think kids see this on television and think it's a sign of athleticism to make the jump-pass. More often than not, the jump-pass results in a turnover. Teach passers to stay grounded and make good, controlled two-handed passes. We don't want our players making decisions in mid-air. The jump-pass also is often the result of a player being in too much of a hurry.

9. 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. Players do not pass to another player unless he/she is showing a hand target.

10. 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.

Try the "Bennett drill" to improve your half-court passing and help reduce turnovers.

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