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Basketball Passing Fundamentals

Basketball Players
Last Updated on: June 16, 2023

Basketball Players

Learning basketball passing fundamentals is the essence of outstanding teamwork. As a fan, it’s fascinating to watch a perfectly delivered pass for every easy dunk or layup. Turnovers and poor passing will kill a team’s offense faster than anything. A bad pass can often result in no shot taken and a turnover. It’s also an opportunity lost to score. A player must become a better passer and a coach must continue to find ways to teach their players how to become better.

Player Development

When you have a couple of players facing each other and practicing how to master basketball bounce passes or chest passes, passing may seem easy. but once a defender is placed on each of them, then passing becomes very difficult. Once you get past the early formative stages when it comes to player development, basketball passing drills are needed in order to simulate game situations. Using the best basketball return system can help with shot consistency, player development, and a more efficient practice. Special attention must be placed on passing and teamwork in order to get a team in sync on the court.

During passing drills, players will catch and pass the ball on the move which makes them better than stationary drills.

The Art of Passing

An excellent pass is one that’s caught by a receiver. Two parts are involved for a successful pass, which involves receiving the pass and making the pass. The person that’s receiving the pass should have relaxed hands and catch the ball using both hands. In most cases, the receiver should be moving toward the pass in order to meet it.

A receiver should never be stationary, instead, they must learn to get open by using back cuts and V cuts, then steal from the defender. Basically, the receiver must always know where the ball is.

When receiving and passing use both hands. The three basic passes involve the overhead, bounce, and chest passes. You should also consider the baseball and behind the back pass. With all three of the basic passes, the technique is the same. For any pass you’ll step toward a receiver, extending your arms towards them with your thumbs down with your palms up. The pass should be delivered accurately and where the receiver wants it.

Thinking On Your Feet

Two Young High School

Making the right decisions with the ball is a big part of passing. When you make a simple pass, the easiest one will get the job done. Don’t show off and make a crazy behind-the-back pass for attention. Especially when a simple bounce or chest pass will do the job.

There will be times when a behind the back pass executed correctly will be the right move, however, you shouldn’t pass into the defense if a receiver is surrounded by defenders. While this sounds obvious, this is a common mistake many beginners make. Always pass away from the defense.

Never pass into a situation in which the receiver is in a bad position to receive the ball. As an example, never pass the ball when the receiver has their back turned away from the hoop and there are defenders coming up on the blindside.

If a passer is any good then they’ll know how to take advantage of an open the passing lane is and how to fake out the opponent, then they’ll pass the ball in the opposite direction. The shot fake and the pass fake are two of the most important and under-taught fundamentals of passing.

Faking Out Your Opponent

Mastering a fake pass will be a powerful skill to have on the court.  Just looking in the opposite direction, as you pass or making a ball fake can often open the desired passing lane. Avoid looking directly at your receiver when you’re passing.

Know where your teammates are at all times, keep your eyes forward, and use your peripheral vision.A player can execute a fake pass while dribbling with their head down, then they can make a quick pass at the end of the dribble to a defender who slips into the passing lane.

A skilled passer knows how to deliver the ball that’s the right angle and velocity to make it easier for the receiver to catch. If the pass is too hard, even if it’s in the perfect location, it can be uncatchable by the receiver, costing you the ball. If you pass the ball too easy and soft then the defense will be able to intercept it.

A player must learn how to anticipate a pass. A passer must learn how to pass the ball to where their teammate will soon be, not where they currently are. Passers must learn how to lead the receiver, not pass the ball behind them. learning how to pass involves communication between the receiver and passer and good timing. passing is not an easy skill to master because it involves a couple of players working together.

Both a receiver and passer must learn how to read the defense. Players must learn how to dish and drive where they’re making a penetrating dribble move, at the last second. Once they’ve drawn the defense in, they can either kick it out to the corner or wing, or for a 3-pointer, or they can make a bounce pass to a post player.

Making the Pass

When making a pass, you must execute it in a totally controlled manner, just like when shooting. You need to keep both feet on the floor and maintain a well-balanced stance. When you’re dribbling down the court on a fast break, you must use standard control and keep your eyes forward, in order to deliver a pass to a teammate that’s open at the correct moment.

You’ll notice a common passing error. If a player is going to be dribbling the ball up the court, making the final pass on the break, then they’ll bring the ball back on the hip at the end of a triple in order to get more velocity on the pass

A defender that’s hustling can come up from behind, taking the ball from the pastor. This will usually cause the ball to go out of bounds, and the pastor has lost a chance to score a Leo. When a player is making this passing with keep the fall in front of them.

Like you pass, try to avoid getting into the habit of jumping. When a player jumps when they pass, they’ll have no option other than to pass. Should the defense be close by in the passing lane while the player is airborne, that airborne player’s in trouble.


Coaches teach many players that the chest pass is not really effective for perimeter passing. To make a chest pass, a player needs a clear passing lane directly in front of them. If the defender is directly in front of them, they can easily deflect the pass that comes from their chest area. In this situation, you will want to either use a two-handed overhead pass or a lateral pass.

When a player performs a lateral pass, they fake opposite by crossing their opposite foot in front of them. They deliver the pass with some zip on it to make it less easily intercepted.

For example, if a player intends to pass the ball to the right, they fake to the left, then cross their left foot over in front of them while pivoting on their right foot and make the pass to the right. It is similar to a chest pass. the difference is it’s not released from the center of the chest.

Two-Handed Overhead

This pass is often used to move the ball quickly around the perimeter. The player’s target is 13 inches above their head or a little higher than the chest. When making this pass, a player should not bring the ball back behind their head. Instead they must keep it straight up and over their head.

Into the Post

When passing into the post, timing becomes crucial. Make the pass as the post player assumes their post position. The most effective and easiest pass to catch is the bounce pass. Pass the ball quickly to the low post when it is on the wing, before the defense is ready.

By executing a good fake, the passer should be able to clear the passing lane. Additionally, they should learn how to perform the step-around bounce pass.

If a defender is half-fronting from the baseline side, make this pass from the high side. However, if defenders are half-fronting from the lane side, the pass can easily be made from the low baseline side. When the low post is fronted, players can attempt lob passes over the top, but only if the post player has a clear advantage.

Utilize Simple Passes

Passes should be kept simple. There are many players that will throw a pass one-handed that are not often caught because the ball has a sideways spin or the passes errant, making it difficult to catch. Bounce passes are good to use when you’re making tough passes into the low post, or when attacking on fastbreaks. While fun, a behind-the-back pass is often overkill. In most cases, the best pass to use is the two-handed pass. Learning and mastering even the simplest passes will be heavily based on team effort. While you can practice passes with family and friends, it’s crucial that you form a bond with your teammates and learn their passing style, identify the signals they send when they intend to pass, and show them that you’re a true team player.

Summing it Up

Passing takes practice and teamwork. You’ll need to work with other players on the team to learn about their passing style, the signals they send when they intend to pass, and which passes they utilize the most.

Learn the basic ways to pass the ball before you dive into learning advanced ways to pass. While advanced passing styles are more flashy and fun, keep your passes simple for the best results.

As you probably already know poor passing can destroy a team’s offense, which can result in breakaways for the opponent and possessions with no shots.

Final Thoughts

After studying these basketball passing fundamentals, you can focus on perfecting your passing techniques and working with your teammates in order to learn moves, signals, and form a bond that will allow you to remain in sync on the court. But learning how to pass isn’t easy. It will take practice and dedication, and your teammates must be on board. Passing practices and drills can be an excellent way for new players to learn how to play hard together and form a bond that allows you to connect to a receiver on the court, in the heat of a game.