Basketball Passing Drills

Basketball passing drills and practices aim to develop passing accuracy, technique, and awareness. The basic passes including chest pass, behind the back pass and side pass, are covered with small games to put them into practice.

Chest Pass

The aim is to improve the chest pass technique. This is the simplest, and most used pass in basketball, probably because it is often the most accurate, and quick pass, but also it can be used from just about anywhere on the court.

The first thing players need to do when they receive the ball is to place their hands on each side and slightly behind the ball, with their fingers comfortably spread. The ball should be held in front of the chest with the elbows tucked in. Maintaining a balanced stance with feet shoulder-width apart is also important when trying to control the pass.

The next stage is to locate the target, but try not to look directly at it, as this would make it easier for opponents to read and intercept the pass. Maybe introduce a fake pass or look in another direction before passing to try and deceive a defender.

The next phase is executing the chest pass, here players need to step in the direction of the pass, through extending their legs, back, and arms, this will create the majority of the power needed. The wrist and fingers should then be forced through the ball to create more power and help guide the ball to the target. Make sure the ball is released off the first and second fingers of both hands, and follow through to finish up with the arms fully extended, fingers pointing at the target and palms facing the floor.

Common Faults:

  • Pass misses the target: This often occurs when a player’s dominant hand overpowers the weak hand, as the ball travels in the direction the fingers send it. It can also occur if players do not square up to the target correctly. Concentrate on forcing the weak hand through the ball and lining up correctly with the target.

  • Pass falls short: This usually occurs when players don’t create maximum force by stepping into the shot and extending the legs, back, and arms. Push the wrists and fingers through the ball. Concentrate on over exaggerating all these actions even on short passes.

Overhead Pass

The aim is to improve the overhead pass technique. This is most often used when players have a defender closely guarding them, or as a long-distance pass to start a fast break. The reason an overhead pass is used in these situations is that it enables players to pass the ball over the top of defenders.

The first thing a player needs to do when they receive the ball is to place their hands on each side and slightly behind the ball, with the fingers comfortably spread. The ball should be held above the forehead, with the elbows flexed at about a right angle and tucked in. Maintaining a balanced stance with feet shoulder-width apart is also important when trying to control the pass.

The next stage is to locate the target, but try not to look directly at it, as this would make it easier for opponents to read and intercept the pass. Maybe introduce a fake pass or look in another direction before passing to try and deceive a defender.

The next phase is executing the overhead pass, here players need to step in the direction of the pass, through extending the legs, back, and arms, this will create the majority of the power needed. The wrist and fingers should then be flexed to release the ball off the first and second fingers of both hands. Then follow through to finish up with the arms fully extended, fingers pointing at the target and palms facing the floor.

Common Faults:

  • Pass lacks power: This error usually occurs if the ball is held behind the head, and players do not extend their legs, back, and arms enough. Concentrate on these phases of the pass to eliminate the error.

  • Pass lacks accuracy: This often occurs if the strong hand is too dominant, or players do not point their fingers at the target on release. Concentrate on emphasizing the weak hand.

  • Ball gets stolen: This usually occurs when the ball is held behind the head, an opposing player can steal the ball from the hands. Concentrate on holding the ball above the forehead, as to not break the plane of the body.

Behind the Back Pass

The aim is to improve the behind the back pass technique. This is most often used by advanced players when a defender runs head-on at them because it allows them a bit more time to pass the ball to a teammate.

Start in a balanced stance with feet shoulder-width apart. Players should use their back foot to pivot on and turn their body to the side which they are going to pass from. Place the passing hand behind the ball and the non-passing hand in front of it, with fingers, comfortably spread. The ball should be moved behind the hip, and the weight should be kept on the back foot.

The next stage is to locate the target, but try not to look directly at it, as this would make it easier for opponents to read and intercept the pass. Maybe introduce a fake pass or look in another direction before passing to try and deceive a defender.

The next phase is executing the baseball pass, here the player needs to step in the direction of the pass, switch their weight to their front foot, and extend their legs, back, and passing arm, this will create the majority of the power needed. The wrist and fingers should then be flexed to release the ball off the first and second finger of the passing hand. Keep both hands on the ball until it is released. Pass the ball behind the back, then follow through to finish up with the arm fully extended, fingers pointing at the target and palms facing up.

Common Faults:

Taking the non-passing hand off too soon: When this occurs players lose some control of the pass, and may miss the target. Concentrate on keeping both hands on the ball whilst placing it behind the hip and until the release.

Baseball Pass

The aim is to improve the baseball pass technique. This is most often used when passing over a long distance, or to start a fast break.

Start in a balanced stance with feet shoulder-width apart. Players should use the back foot to pivot on and turn the body to the side which they are going to pass from. Place the passing hand behind the ball and the non-passing hand in front of it, with fingers, comfortably spread. The ball should be held up to the ear, elbows should be tucked in and the weight should be kept on the back foot.

The next stage is to locate the target, but try not to look directly at it, as this would make it easier for opponents to read and intercept the pass. Maybe introduce a fake pass or look in another direction before passing to try and deceive a defender.

The next phase is executing the baseball pass, here a player needs to step in the direction of the pass, through extending the legs, back, and arms, this will create the majority of the power needed. The wrist and fingers should then be flexed to release the ball off the first and second fingers of both hands. Keep both hands on the ball until the release. Then follow through to finish up with the arms fully extended, fingers pointing at the target and palms facing down.

Common Faults:

Pass lacks accuracy: This often occurs if the passing hand is placed to the side of the ball instead of behind it, or players do not point their fingers at the target on release. Concentrate on hand placement, and point at the target.

Sidearm Pass

The aim is to improve the sidearm pass technique. This is most often used when a player has a defender closely guarding them, and have to pass around them. The execution of the sidearm pass is very similar to that of the overhead pass, with the exception of the positioning of the ball.

When attempting a sidearm pass, players need to place their hands each side, and slightly behind the ball when they receive it. Their fingers should be comfortably spread. The ball should be held between the shoulder and hip, and to one side of the body. The player’s elbows should be tucked in and they should maintain a balanced stance with feet shoulder width apart. Keep the ball in front of the body.

The next stage is to locate the target, but try not to look directly at it, as this would make it easier for opponents to read and intercept the pass. Maybe introduce a fake pass or look in another direction before passing to try and deceive a defender.

The next phase is executing the sidearm pass, here players need to step in the direction of the pass, through extending the legs, back, and arms, this will create the majority of the power needed. The wrist and fingers should then be flexed to release the ball off the first and second fingers of both hands. Then follow through to finish up with the arms fully extended, fingers pointing at the target and palms facing out to the side. This pass can also be executed with just one hand.

Common Faults:

Pass lacks power: This error usually occurs if the ball is held behind the body, and players do not extend their legs, back, and arms enough. Concentrate on these phases of the pass to eliminate the error.

Pass lacks accuracy: This often occurs if the strong hand is too dominant, or players do not point the fingers at the target on release. Concentrate on emphasizing the weak hand, and point at the target.

Ball gets stolen: This usually occurs when the ball is held behind the body, as an opposing player can steal the ball from a player’s hands. Concentrate on holding the ball out to the side, but as to not break the plane of the body.

Chest/Wall Pass The aim is to improve passing and receiving. Player starts facing a wall about 1 meter back, then executes a two-handed chest pass against the wall, and the rebound should come back at the players chest for them catch. The hands should be put in the ‘W’ shape to catch the ball.

Progressions:

  • When the player is confident at this distance they can move back another 50cm and repeat the drill. Move back up to 3 meters away from the wall.
  • Throw faster and harder to make it more of a challenge to hold on to the rebound.
  • Use a different type of pass, i.e. baseball or overhead.

Coaching Points

  • Use the ‘W’ shape to catch the ball
  • When using the chest pass keep the elbows in, and the hands slightly behind the ball in a relaxed handshake position.
  • Step in the direction of the pass then extend the knees, back and arms forward and release the ball.
  • On the follow through arms should be extended, palms facing down and fingers pointing to the target.

From Key to Post

The aim is to improve passing, and receiving. At least 10 players are required for this drill. Some players line up in two groups at the top of the key, the first player in each of these lines has a ball.

Another 2 players start out wide, in line with the middle of the key, 1 on each side, and the same happens in the post positions next to the key. The first pass to be made is from the first person in each line to the wide player on each side, the wide player then passes to the post player, and the post player passes back to the next person in the opposite line, and everyone follows their pass to keep the drill moving. The players passing from the post positions must join the end of the opposite line.

Progressions:

  • Increase speed of the drill
  • Use different passes i.e. overhead and bounce passes

Coaching Points:

  • When using the chest pass keep the elbows in, and the hands slightly behind the ball in a relaxed handshake position.
  • Step in the direction of the pass then extend the knees, back, and arms forward and release the ball.
  • On the follow-through arms should be extended, palms facing down and fingers pointing to the target.

The action of the overhead pass is very similar to that of the chest pass, except the ball should be held above the forehead, and just before release the wrist and fingers should be flexed to produce the power.

  • Again the action of the bounce pass is similar to the other 2 passes, however with the bounce pass, the ball should be held at waist level, and the ball should bounce about 2/3rds of the distance to the target.
  • Use the ‘W’ shape to catch the ball
  • Make sure players call for the ball

Pass, Shoot, and Hustle

The aim is to improve passing, and receiving, shooting, and defending. This drill uses 3 players, player 1 starts with the ball underneath the basket. Players 2 and 3 start where the 3 point line meets the backline.

Players 2 and 3 then run forward in line with the end of the key, and player 1 has to decide whether to pass to player 2 or 3. Once the first pass has been made, all players stay in their lanes and keep passing the ball to each other as they move up the court. When either player 2 or 3 receive the ball in the other half of the court for the first time they dribble the ball towards the basket and attempt a layup. However, the player that isn’t shooting has to try and get across the court and hustle the lay up. Player 1 collects any rebounds and the drill starts again.

Progressions:

  • Increase speed of the drill
  • Use different passes i.e. overhead and bounce passes.
  • Swap players positions so everyone completes all roles.

Coaching Points

  • When using the chest pass keep the elbows in, and the hands slightly behind the ball in a relaxed handshake position.
  • Step in the direction of the pass then extend the knees, back, and arms forward and release the ball.
  • On the follow-through arms should be extended, palms facing down and fingers pointing to the target.
  • The action of the overhead pass is very similar to that of the chest pass, except the ball should be held above the forehead, and just before release the wrist and fingers should be flexed to produce the power.
  • Again the action of the bounce pass is similar to the other 2 passes, however with the bounce pass, the ball should be held at waist level, and the ball should bounce about 2/3rds of the distance to the target.
  • When attempting the layup make sure the non-shooting hand is under the ball, and the shooting hand is on top, keep the elbow in, lift shooting knee, and jump straight up off the other leg, extend arms, and release the ball at the highest point.
  • Use the ‘W’ shape to catch the ball
  • Make sure players call for the ball

Follow the Ball

The aim is to improve passing, and receiving. 2 teams of at least 4 players each are needed for this drill. Teams stand in 2 lines facing each other about 4 meters apart.

How: 1 of the players at the front of the line starts with the ball. The player with the ball chest passes the ball to the first player in the opposite team. The player that has just passed the ball then follows their pass around the receiver and to the back of that line. This drill continues for around a minute.

Progressions:

  • Increase speed of the drill
  • Use different passes i.e. overhead and bounce passes.

Coaching Points

  • When using the chest pass keep the elbows in, and the hands slightly behind the ball in a relaxed handshake position.
  • Step in the direction of the pass then extend the knees, back, and arms forward and release the ball.
  • On the follow-through arms should be extended, palms facing down and fingers pointing to the target.
  • The action of the overhead pass is very similar to that of the chest pass, except the ball should be held above the forehead, and just before release the wrist and fingers should be flexed to produce the power.
  • Again the action of the bounce pass is similar to the other 2 passes, however with the bounce pass, the ball should be held at waist level, and the ball should bounce about 2/3rds of the distance to the target.
  • Use the ‘W’ shape to catch the ball
  • Make sure players call for the ball

2 Man, 2 Pass and Move

The aim is to improve passing, receiving, dribbling and the lay up. Player 1 starts with the ball on the back line at the left side of the key. Player 2 starts out wide on the same side in line with the top of the key.

Player 1 must pass the ball out to player 2, who then dribbles the ball towards the basket at the opposite end of the court, and attempts a lay up. At the same time after passing the ball player 1 has to get to the foul line at the opposite end, and jog back down towards the basket they came from, and calls for a long pass (overhead) from player 2. Player 2 has to collect their own rebound from the attempted layup and deliver the ball to player 1 using the overhead pass. When player 1 receives the ball they dribble to the basket and attempt a lay up, whilst player 2 tries to reach player 1’s layup before it touches the floor.

Progressions:

  • Increase speed of the drill
  • Use different passes

Coaching Points

  • Use the ‘W’ shape to catch the ball.
  • When using the chest pass keep the elbows in, and the hands slightly behind the ball in a relaxed handshake position. Step in the direction of the pass then extend the knees, back and arms forward and release the ball. On the follow through arms should be extended, palms facing down and fingers pointing to the target.
  • The action of the overhead pass is very similar to that of the chest pass, except the ball should be held above the forehead, and just before release the wrist and fingers should be flexed to produce the power.
  • Make sure players call for the ball.
  • When attempting the layup make sure the non-shooting hand is under the ball, and the shooting hand is on top, keep the elbow in, lift shooting knee, and jump straight up off the other leg, extend arms, and release the ball at the highest point.

Bad Ball, Good Hands

The aim is to improve passing, receiving, and shooting. Player 1 starts on the backline outside of the key, with player 2 standing at the top of the key with the ball. Player 1 darts into the key, player 2 throws a bad pass into the key, player 1 has to react to this bad pass and try to catch it.

When the ball is caught player 1 throws it back to player 2, who returns it as soon as possible with another inaccurate pass for player 1 to attempt to catch. This can be repeated again, except this time when player 1 catches the ball they can pivot and attempt a shot.

Progressions:

  • Increase speed of the drill
  • Use different passes
  • Use different shots

Coaching Points

  • Use the ‘W’ shape to catch the ball
  • Make sure players call for the ball

On the Break

The aim is to improve passing, receiving, dribbling, and the lay up. To start the drill player 1 stands on the back line in line with the basket. Player 2 starts in a wide position, in line with the top of the key. 

Player 1 passes the ball out to player 2, player 1 must then run around the outside of player 2 and towards the key at the other end. When player 2 catches the ball they start to dribble up the court to the foul line. Once at the foul line player 2 should pass the ball to the onrushing player 1, who attempts a lay up. Player 2 moves in to receive the rebound as player 1 continues underneath the basket and out wide to the top of the key, and the drill is then repeated with the players having swapped roles.

Progressions:

  • Increase speed of the drill
  • Use different passes
  • Use different shots

Coaching Points

  • Use the ‘W’ shape to catch the ball
  • Make sure players call for the ball.
  • When attempting the layup make sure the non-shooting hand is under the ball, and the shooting hand is on top, keep the elbow in, lift shooting knee, and jump straight up off the other leg, extend arms, and release the ball at the highest point.

Man (or woman) in the Middle

The aim is to improve passing and receiving. Start with 4 or 5 players on 1 team standing in a circle, and another player in the middle of the circle. 1 player starts with the ball and they have to use a chest pass to deliver the ball to another teammate.

The player in the middle has to try and intercept the pass, if the pass is intercepted the passer must go in the middle and the player in the middle moves to the outside.

Progressions:

  • Use different passes i.e. overhead and bounce pass.
  • Have fewer players on the outside of the circle.

Coaching Points

  • Use the ‘W’ shape to catch the ball
  • When using the chest pass keep the elbows in, and the hands slightly behind the ball in a relaxed handshake position.
  • Step in the direction of the pass then extend the knees, back, and arms forward and release the ball.
  • On the follow through arms should be extended, palms facing down and fingers pointing to the target.
  • The action of the overhead pass is very similar to that of the chest pass, except the ball should be held above the forehead, and just before release the wrist and fingers should be flexed to produce the power.
  • Again the action of the bounce pass is similar to the other 2 passes, however with the bounce pass, the ball should be held at waist level, and the ball should bounce about 2/3rds of the distance to the target.