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Basketball Passing Drills for Beginners and Intermediate Players

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Basketball passing drills will be crucial to developing a player’s ability to pass, which is one of the keys to a successful basketball team. A basketball team’s offense is the basis of its aptitude for passing the ball between each player effectively in order to create more abilities to shoot on the court. The drills included in this guide can be used by coaches and players during practice in order to see some major improvements on the court. Of course, these drills should be practiced with two or more people in order to perfect smooth passing skills.

 Perfecting Passing Techniques

If a player is unable to pass, then they’ll make it easy for the opposition to defend the ball and they’ll find it extremely complicated to get into a scoring position. This guide’s going to go over some great passing drills and tips that can have you on your game during a game. You can practice these drills at home, using a good wall-mounted hoop, or during team practice.

The list of drills can be used by both coaches and players and should be practiced consistently in order to achieve the desired results, boost a player’s confidence and skills on the court, and teach players passing fundamentals.

Chest Passes

The chest pass is an effective and simple drill that’s commonly used during practice. To do this drill, players will be set up in a circle approximately16 feet in diameter, with one player starting off in the middle of the circle.

One of the players in the circle will begin with the ball and start off by passing it to the player that’s standing in the middle of the circle. Next, they’ll then follow their pass and move to the middle. As a player does this, the player currently holding the ball will pass it to the next player in the circle, following the ball again to take up a new position.

These chest passes should be delivered crisply to each other, with the players looking to catch the ball, and passing it on without dropping it. Each player must continue to pass the ball quickly and move in this manner for the entirety of the drill. Different targets can be set depending on the ability of the players. As an example, the drill can be set for 30 passes to be completed before the ball can touch the ground. Should the ball get dropped the drill will start all over again.

This type of drill will get a player used to quickly moving the ball from one player to the next, then moving smoothly on the court with their attention placed on the new player with the ball, which is what needs to be done in a fast attack.

The goal of this drill is not only to teach players how to stay in the moment and focus on the ball as they smoothly and quickly pass it from one player to the next, but it will also teach them how to firmly grasp the ball and pass while moving. During a game they’re not always going to be able to stop and pick up a ball.

This drill can also be done in pairs. Each pair will begin with one ball and should side step down the court and every 2 steps pass the ball across to their partner. A beginner may struggle to play an accurate pass since moving quickly and passing the ball smoothly can be a tough adjustment. However, with enough practice they will begin passing to moving targets easily as they move, which is vitally important in the heat of the game.

Both types of drills utilize the chest pass, which is a very important part of the game.


Mastering the bounce pass can be difficult for players of any skill level. The technique behind this pass is basically the same as the chest pass. A player will hold the ball in front of their chest while their fingers are placed forward, and their thumbs are pointing down. Just like the chest pass, the player will need to step into the throw, pushing through to move the ball to the next player. However, this type of pass is much slower compared to the chest pass since the player is looking to bounce the ball off the floor into the hands of their teammates. To learn more about this pass and how to master it click here to read my in-depth article.


Drills for the overhead pass can be done in pairs. For this drill, the ball will begin above the player’s head, as they keep their arms back and their fingers up. Just like with the chest pass, a player should step into the throw, pushing the ball over their heads and into the hands of another player. This pass is often used in games for inbound passes and other types of stationary positions, such as passing after a rebound. Typically, this pass is used on the run so a player will not need to follow a trail involving passing and moving.

Designated Shooter

This is a great drill that is designed to improve every aspect of offense including passing. For this drill, one of the players or the coach will designate a shooter.

The rules of the drill are very simple. The shooter is the player who is the only one able to shoot the ball. The shooter can execute back door passes, cuts, bounce passes, and will do everything they need to do in order to get open. Every other player on the team is designated to get the shooter open. These players can screen, pass, or anything else necessary. The goal here is to keep the identity of the shooter away from the defense until the shooter is able to take a shot.

Interleaving and Variable Passes

You can use a mix of interleaving and variable drills that do not utilize defenders. The term variable means the types, angles, and distances of the passes are constantly changing. Interleaving refers to working with multiple concepts or skills at the same time. The benefits of these types of drills include improved passing and they’re perfect for warming up before a game. These drills allow coaches to reinforce concepts, techniques, and skills, and they’re a good choice for intermediate players.

Decision Making on the Court

On a team, it’s very common for a coach to solely focus on technique when it comes to passing drills. Unfortunately, they tend to forget about training a player’s decision-making ability when it comes to sharing the ball on the court. A player is not going to improve their endgame passing technique by making several chest pass repetitions. Of course, technique drills do you have a place, yet they’re not as important as decision-making drills.

On a team a coach must allow players to learn how to make correct passing decisions by reading the defense. Drills such 32 advance are very effective for this.

32 Advance

On a team, players will form three lines that spread out evenly along the baseline. Two at the outside lines will begin with the ball. Two or three players can progress up the court by passing the ball back and forth to the middle player, finishing the drill with a couple of layups. As players move up the floor, the outside player will pass to the ball in the middle line. When the player and the middle catches the pass the person on the middle line will instantly pass the ball back to the same player. The middle person then turns and receives the pass when the other outside player passes back to them immediately. Each player on the outside line can take two dribbles in order to avoid traveling. The group will continue up the court until the players make their way to the opposite 3-point line. Once this happens, you’ll see outside players finishing with the layup. The group of three will then wait at the opposite end for other teams of three to finish before they head back in the opposite direction

Swing Pass

For the swing pass relay the team will split up into four lines. One player then makes a one-handed pass in front of the player located on the right who will then begin to running along the baseline. The player who passed the ball will then join the end of the line they passed to. The purpose of this drill is to warm up the muscles and get a player used to passing while in motion. It’s designed to improve passing to a player that’s on the move, in addition to being able to catch passes without dribbling.

The drill starts off with the player with the ball passing in front of the player in line to the right. Before passing the ball, the receiver must begin jogging in the direction of the next lin, in order to catch the ball on the move. The receiver will then catch the ball as another player begins jogging and makes the pass out in front of them. After every pass, the passer will join the end of the line that they passed to. This drill will continue much in the same manner, as the players pass around the ball in the same direction. After a certain amount of time the direction of passing can be changed.

Bronze Passing

This drill will begin on the edges of the baseline. Players should pair up and pass the ball back and forth using different types of passes as they fly down the court to another baseline. Once they reach the other baseline, both players will slide back closer to the sidelines and return using different passes to the players in the middle court. This is a great warm-up drill that involves a variety of passes in a short amount of time. Each player should incorporate passes of different types and lengths for players to practice.

Net Ball

This drill involves a regular scrimmage with no dribbling allowed. Games can be played three-on-three up to five on five. The purpose of this drill is to not only improve passing, but it can also teach players how to move without the ball, with a focus on cutting, and spacing. This drill can result in fewer turnovers and less over-dribbling in games.

Passing Routines

While a team will not use each of these drills at every practice, it’s important that some passing drills be incorporated into every practice. If you’re a player, then you can easily practice these drills with friends or teammates, outside of team practice, if you’re not confident in your passing skills. I recommend practicing these drills in your off time for at least twenty minutes, five days a week, or more, depending on how often you play. Remember, many of these drills are also great warmups, so they can get your muscles pumped and ready to go, whether you’re playing on a team or you’re about to take on some players from the neighborhood.

Final Thoughts

These basketball passing drills are designed not only to teach players how to smoothly pass the ball from one member of the team to another, but it will also focus on teamwork, attention on the court, and decision-making. Many players don’t realize that they have important decisions to make in the heat of the game, whether it’s to take the shot themselves or to pass it to a team member. When these drills are practiced consistently, you’ll notice that players on the court have a closer bond and are able to not only read their teammates for signs of a pass but the defense as well. Passing drills should be performed at every practice for the best results. Of course, some of these drills are not beginner friendly, and may be a better choice for intermediate or more experienced players. Fortunately, most coaches are able to gauge what their team is capable of and can choose the right drills accordingly.