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Basketball Passing Drills Guide

Basketball Passing Drills

Adding strong passing skills to any basketball player's game makes them even more unstoppable on the court. Why? Because now they have the ability to set up their teammates to score which means the defense has to play even harder.

Passing can be an overlooked skill, but basketball remains a team sport; and because of this, passing is a crucial part to winning.

There are a number of different ways to pass the ball and you need to practice ALL of them. Start with the basic passes to create the best passing foundation which means focusing on being the best chest passer, bounce passer, and overhead passer. Then work your way to the more advanced passes like the no-look passes or behind-the-back passes.

If you watch your favorite players closely, you'll notice all the different types of passes they make during the games. They have worked on their passing skills to be able to incorporate and mix up many different passes. And as you can see it makes it incredibly hard for the defense to guard them.

You can be this type of passer too and we're going to help you. Get ready to become the best passer on the court with the drills and tips below.

Basketball Passing Drills

Shovel Pass

  • Start with the ball in your strong hand and your palm facing up
  • Move your hand back then forward as if you're trying to shovel the ball
  • As your hand comes forward, release the ball

With the shoveling motion in mind, picture using this pass if you're trying to get rid of the ball fast. You can make this pass with one hand which saves time and allows you to stay a step ahead of the defense. The only way to get the go-ahead from Coach to use this pass is to make sure that you can still hit your teammate in the shooting pocket for them to be successful.


Kick-Out Pass

  • Start with the ball in your strong hand as if you're using your dribble to attack the rim
  • As your square to the goal, make a chest pass from your side instead of from the front of your body
  • This means you'll make the pass with your outside (dribbling) hand and its essentially a kick-out pass to a teammate

The best time to utilize the kick-out pass is when you're attacking the rim hard and defense steps over to help stop your dribble. As that defender helps stop you, it gives you an open passing lane to kick out the ball to your open teammate for an open shot or to make another positive action with the ball. As with any pass, you want to kick out the ball to your teammate's shooting pocket.


Behind-the-Back Passing

  • Start with the ball in your strong hand and your palm facing up.
  • Your hand and the ball will be to the side of your hip on your strong side.
  • Start swinging the ball behind your back towards your other hip
  • As the ball get closer to your other hip, let the ball go.

These steps have the pass going in slow motion, but it’s all done so fast that it makes more sense while you’re practicing the pass. You want to make sure that your teammate is in the right position to catch your pass – meaning you do need to be aiming for them. This pass takes a lot of practice, but it’s a really fun pass to use on a 2 on 1 fast break.

In Pete Maravich's Pistol Pete Passing DVD, he cover the fundamentals of passing the basketball and demostrates advanced and creative passes. He also dives into many drills he used to work on as a kid that helped him become Pistol Pete. Check out Pistol Pete's DVD here.


Steve Nash Passing Drills

Pocket Passing

For this drill, you need to step up a number of cones or chairs with a small distance in between and a teammate.

The focus of this drill is to find pockets to pass through and the pockets you're looking for is the distance between the cones. The object is to bounce pass to your teammate between cones without hitting a cone.

Passing Touch

Now the goal is to practice hitting your target and your targets are the cones you've set up for pocket passing. Go through and see how many you can hit passing with your right hand then switch it up and pass with your left hand.

Turn it up a notch by going rapid fire and add another basketball to the mix.


2 Ball Passing

For 2 Ball Passing Drills, you need 2 basketballs and a wall (or teammate).

  • Right Hand Chest Pass - make a chest pass with your right hand and repeat until time is up or drill is complete.
  • Left Hand Chest Pass - make a chest pass with your left hand and repeat until time is up or drill is complete.
  • Cross Chest Pass - with your right hand you'll cross and chest pass to the left side of the wall and with your left hand you'll cross and chest pass to the right side of the wall. You'll switch back and forth with your hands.
  • One-Hand Right Hand Pass - using only your right hand and repeat until time is up or drill is complete.
  • One-Hand Left Hand Pass - using only your left hand and repeat until time is up or drill is complete.
  • Right Hand Bounce Pass - make a bounce pass with your right hand and repeat until time is up or drill is complete.
  • Left Hand Bounce Pass - make a bounce pass with your left hand and repeat until time is up or drill is complete.
  • Cross Bounce Pass - with your right hand you'll cross and bounce pass to the left side of the wall and with your left hand you'll cross and bounce pass to the right side of the wall. You'll switch back and forth with your hands.

For the complete passing workout with Jason Otter check out Handle the Rock Pro Dribbling. It's comes with 4 dribbling drills and 1 passing drill to help you build speed and strength with the basketball. You can read more about it here.


Heavy Ball Passing

For Heavy Ball Passing Drills, you need a heavy ball and a wall (or teammate).

  • Between the Legs One Hand Pass - Start with ball in your left hand and dribble heavy ball between your legs. As the ball bounces back up catch it with your right hand and throw a pass off the wall. Be sure to drill on both sides.
  • 2 Handed Passes - Start close to the wall and make a 2 handed pass against the wall. With every rep increase your speed until you're going as fast as you can. Then take a step back and repeat the sequence. You'll keep stepping back for up to 4 times.
  • Wall Twists - Start close to the wall and stand with your shoulders closest to the wall. Toss the ball against then wall and as the ball hits the wall jump and spin to catch the ball facing the other direction. Pass the ball and keep jumping to change directions.

Check out the full Heavy Trainer Workout with Jay Hernandez here. This DVD will show you how to get the most out of your workout with a heavy basketball.

Basketball Passing Team Drills

3 vs 1 Passing

This passing drill starts with 1 defender in the middle and 3 offensive players passing the ball. Set up boundaries using cones in a square format with the offense being able to move in a straight line to get open for a pass however the defender cannot go outside the boundaries.

The 3 vs 1 Passing drills works on utilizing different passes, ball fakes, and how to get open for your teammate. You can set a number of different rules to keep the game interesting and challenges such as a time limit, number of touches, or specific passes to use.


Iceland Passing Drill

For this drill you need an uneven number of players around a circle. In our exmple, we're using 9 players.

Give a ball to Player 1 and Player 9 and let them pass to the right skipping a player.

Add variations to keep it challenging such as adding more basketballs, change direction of the passing, or change the pass type on a signal.


Basketball Passing Tips

  • Pass the ball to a spot where your teammate can be successful.
  • Step to your teammate as you're passing the ball for increased accuracy.
  • Throw the ball away from where the defender is located.
  • Be sure to follow through with all passes.
  • Aim for and deliver your passes to your teammate's shooting pocket.
  • Pass the ball from your fingertips and not your palms.
  • Work to make sure your pass arrives when your teammate is open.
  • Direct passes are quicker and safer than bounce passes.
  • When using two-handed chest and bounce passes, snap your wrists out at the end of the passing motion.
  • Keep both hands on the ball until you release the pass.
  • Use maximum quickness but without sacrificing accuracy.
  • Always have a specific target receiver in mind.
  • Don't wind up as you're passing the ball.
  • Be sure to pass ahead of an open player to lead them and give the best chance to be successful.
  • Passes should be crisp, sharp and accurate so they can be caught and handled easily by your teammate.
  • Be quick when passing so your defender doesn't have time to react.
  • Utilize pass fakes in order to open up passing lanes.

Basketball Passing Training Videos

Ganon Baker's Basketball School: Passing

With over 30 passing drills for players, Ganon Baker's Basketball School Basketball Passing Drills is the most comprehensive basketball passing drills video available. It features passing drills from beginner to advanced and can be done by yourself or with a partner. Try to reach Ganon's level of passing the basketball and you will probably be the best passer on your team and beyond.


Basketball Passing Training Tools

Heavy Trainer 2 Pack


One key to being a great passer is being strong with the basketball. To achieve more arm strength think about purchasing a heavy basketball to use for your passing drills. A heavy basketball, such as the balls in the Heavy Trainer 2 pack, will train your arms to make stronger passes because of the weight of the ball which means when it’s game time and you’re using a regulation ball you’ll be able to make stronger, tougher passes no matter where your teammates are on the court.

To puchase your Heavy Trainer 2 Pack, click here.

Hot Shot Basketball Training Aid


When you’re passing the ball you want to keep it on your fingertips instead of your palm. The Hot Shot Basketball Training Aid uses a soft silicone finger pad to ensures you have your fingers spaced properly for maximum control. Use this training tool as you’re working on passing the basketball.

To purchase your Hot Shot Basketball Training Aid, click here.

Defender Extender


Use the Defender Extender to train for next level passing around longer or taller defenders. By going against a tougher defense in practice, it will make passing in the game easier. You’ll be prepared for any type of pressure the defense throws at you and will still be able to make the best pass.

To purchase your Defender Extender, click here.


To see more Passing Training Tools click here or check out all of our training equipment here.

Nov 28, 2018 Coach Chris

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