Basketball Passing Guide - Drills, Tips, & Secrets

Posted by Coach Chris on 7th Sep 2018

How to Pass a Basketball

For a basketball player to have excellent passing skills makes their game even more unstoppable. Why? Because now defenders not only have to worry about you but also your ability to set up your teammates to score. Passing can be a lost art in today’s game, but basketball is still a team sport - and because of this passing is a crucial part to winning.

There are a lot of different ways to pass the ball - and we’re going to break those down for you. We’ll cover the basics such as the fundamental passes all players use, how to get better at passing and to the pro level of passing, and some drills and products you can use to continue improving your passing game.

How to Pass a Basketball Correctly

First and foremost, you have to know how to pass a basketball. We’ll start with the basics here – the three most commonly used passes in the game of basketball. Whether you’re playing or watching – these are the types of passes every player learns and uses from kiddie league to the pros. These three passes will be the passing foundation of your game.

Type of Basketball Passing

How to Execute a Chest Pass in Basketball

  • With the basketball at your chest, step forward with your dominant foot
  • While stepping forward, push the ball directly towards your teammates’ chest
  • Your elbows should be flared out before you step to be strong with the ball
  • As the ball leaves your hands, flick your wrists outwards
  • Once the ball is out of your hands, your thumbs should be facing downward

Chest passes are great in situations when no defenders are in the passing lane between you and your teammate. You want to read the defense before you make the pass – if all is clear – then follow the steps above and make a strong chest pass to your teammate.


How to Execute a Bounce Pass in Basketball

  • With the basketball at your chest, step forward with your dominant foot
  • While stepping forward, push the ball towards the ground and your teammate
  • You want the ball to bounce about halfway between you and your teammate
  • Your elbows should be flared out before you step to be strong with the ball
  • As the ball leaves your hands, flick your wrists outwards
  • Once the ball is out of your hands, your thumbs should be facing downward

Bounce passes are used when your defender does have a hand in some form or fashion in the passing lane. You see their hand out defending the passing lane so instead of chest passing – you bounce pass the ball to your teammate. The bounce pass will bounce under their hand so that they can’t knock it down and steal it from your team. If you’re looking to pass and see a hand in your way – make the bounce pass to avoid turning the ball over to the other team.

How to Execute a Overhead Pass in Basketball

  • Start with the basketball in both heads behind your head
  • As you step with your dominant foot, bring the arms forward
  • When the basketball is directly above your head, release the basketball

The overhead pass is going to be used in a situation where your teammate is a long distance away from you – such as an outlet pass to start a fast break or if you want to make a cross court pass. This pass is a bit more dangerous because you’re passing a further distance which can increase the possibility of it being stolen by your opponent.


How to Pass a Basketball Better

Once you have the three fundamental passes ingrained in your game then it’s time to start making even more progress. It’s one thing to know how to make these passes – it’s another thing to know how to make these passes even better. How do you make these passes better? You become stronger, faster, and smarter. Let’s break it down.

How to Make Stronger Passes in Basketball

One key to improving your passing is to get stronger. If you’re getting stronger by the day that means your passes are getting stronger too. Do you want to make a pass that’s hard to steal? Get stronger so that you’re putting all your weight behind it. Do you want to be able to throw an overhead pass the length of the court? Get in the weight room. It’s all about being strong with the ball.

How to Make Faster Passes in Basketball

If you want to make faster passes you have to be a step ahead of your defender and the other team. You can’t spend time thinking about where you want to pass the ball. You have to be ready to pass with no hesitation. If you hesitate then that gives the other team time to get in position to steal the ball. Work on seeing the whole court and being ready to make a pass quickly. Push yourself to see how fast you can make game like decisions when it comes to passing.

How to Make Accurate Passes in Basketball

To be an accurate passer then you have to be smart with the ball which means you always make the right decision and don’t turn the ball over. It’s not always easy, but you get it done. These players have confidence in their passes. They don’t overthink the pass because if they do that than their accuracy immediately drops. To be accurate, you have to be smarter than your defender. How do you do that? You may have to fake a pass to get your defender to move and then make the pass.

All of these aspects go hand in hand – if you’re strong and fast but not accurate then your pass might get stolen or if you’re fast and accurate, but the pass wasn’t strong enough to get there then that’s a turnover. You want to have all three in every pass you make – it’s strong, it’s fast, and it’s accurate. If you can get this trifecta in your game then you’ll turn into a legitimate passer.


How to Pass a Basketball Like a Pro

Now that you have the foundation of passing and know what it takes to be better passer, it’s time to learn how to pass like a pro. If you watch the pros closely you’ll see all sorts of passes and you may wonder how they made that pass. It’s crazy what type of passes you can make when you’ve put in the time to get better.

We’re going to breakdown two passes the pros make that you can learn and incorporate into your game immediately. These are the passes that no one can defend – they draw “oohs” and “ahhs” from the crowd. Add these next two passes to your game – and they’ll need luck to ever stop one of your passes.

How to Execute a Behind the Back Pass in Basketball

  • 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

How to Execute a No Look Pass in Basketball

This pass doesn’t require any special steps – you simply don’t look at your teammate when you pass the ball. It adds another level to your passing because you’re not giving your pass away to the defender by looking at your teammate.

You could be looking to the left but passing to the right. The defenders won’t see this coming because they’ll be watching your eyes. This pass can be used at any point during the game and basically anytime you see an open teammate.


How to Pass a Basketball Drills

How to Pass a Basketball Videos

Ganon Baker's Basketball School - Passing. As the #1 Basketball Skills Trainer in the world, Ganon Baker is going to share with you over 30 passing drills that can be used at any level of basketball.

Better Passing with Mike Bibby. Rent this DVD to learn more about passing from former NBA point guard Mike Bibby Over his 14 year career, Bibby averaged 5.5 assists so he knows a thing or two about passing the ball.

35 Best Passing Drills. Want to know what passing drills John Calipari uses in practice? Rent this DVD to find out. Many of the game's best and brightest college coaches from Calipari to Jay Wright, Bill Self, and Geno Auriemma go over their top drills when it comes to passing.


How to Pass a Basketball Training Aids

To get better at passing, you have to get stronger and what better way than with a weighted basketball or jump rope. Check out the Weighted Heavy Trainer Basketball in this video!