Basketball is a team game. Therefore, all five members on the floor at the same time should work together to stop people on defense and to score on offense. One of the best ways to get the latter going is passing the basketball. More often than not, a team’s success lies heavily in how they share the ball. What is passing, and what are the different types of passing in basketball?
What is Passing in Basketball?
By definition, passing in basketball is when a player intentionally transfers the possession of the ball to a teammate. A pass that leads to a score is called an assist.
The importance of passing cannot be quantified enough. It is the quickest way to move the basketball around. Some coaches even set a rule on the lowest number of passes the players should do before they are allowed to shoot. Why? Because it builds chemistry and creates offensive rhythm.
Passing the ball around also negatively impacts the defense. No matter how disciplined the opposition is, they are always put in a confusing predicament against a team that moves the ball around. It almost always results in an easy score or at least a good look at the basket, which every coach would have wanted.
Surprisingly, even though basketball passing skills are fundamental, few are actually skilled enough to constantly make on-target passes.
What are the Types of Passes in Basketball?
Basketball passes fall under four primary categories plus a couple of other advanced variations. These are:
As its name suggests, a chest pass in basketball is called such because it originates from the passer’s chest and is aimed toward his teammate’s chest. A chest pass is done with two hands and is often a pass a player normally makes when he is not guarded heavily.
To complete a chest pass, grip the ball with two hands, fingers behind the ball, and the thumbs turned down. This results in a nice backspin propelling the ball forward and hopefully into the hands of your teammate.
The bounce pass in basketball is a pass aimed at the floor that is thrown strong enough to bounce or ricochet to a teammate. It may be thrown with the same motion as a chest pass, but skilled passers can do so with one hand. Most passers prefer to bounce the ball two-thirds of the way, or else the ball could end up too difficult to handle.
An overhead pass in basketball is usually done if you want to throw the ball further, something that a bounce or chest pass couldn’t achieve. True to its name, an overhead pass is delivered right over the head with both hands on the side of the ball as you would a chest pass. Also known as the skip pass, the overhead is the most effective pass if you want the ball to get across the court. However, crosscourt passes are generally risky, so many coaches discourage them.
A push pass is a quick pass using one hand. It is similar to the chest pass and may even be thrown like a bounce pass, but the more comes from the elbow instead of the hand. A push is often done against a defender closely guarding you and works best when faking a pass high and then passing the ball low. If you do a simple chest pass when somebody is all over you, the ball may get deflected resulting in a steal and a turnover.
The behind-the-back is considered a flashy pass before, but not now. It is an important skill and comes in handy because defenders rarely anticipate a behind-the-back pass. To complete this pass, the ball is brought back all the way to the opposite hip. That means if you’re passing right-handed, your hand with the ball goes all the way to the left hip with the fingers pointing in the direction of the pass. Because of this action, the behind-the-back is alternatively called the wrap-around pass.
The baseball pass is often used as an outlet pass, which means a quick pass to initiate a fastbreak, usually almost the length of the court. It requires strength, precision, and timing. Without these factors, a baseball pass will result in an interception or an out-of-bounds turnover.
A lob pass is a high-arching pass over the hands of the defense. It is often used to set up a teammate for an alley-oop or when a post player is fronted and you’re looking to lead him to the basket.
What to Consider When Passing the Ball
Even though completing basketball passes is the fastest way to move the basketball around, it is also the quickest way to a turnover if you’re not careful. Therefore, consider these things when passing the ball:
- Distance. You should always try to make the easiest pass possible. Long passes such as a crosscourt or outlet pass are less accurate which often leads to steals and interceptions.
- Target. As a rule of thumb, the target of a pass should always be the hands of the teammate. Locking on a target increases the accuracy of the passes.
- Strong and firm. Never make a soft pass to a teammate. Soft passes are easily deflected and stolen.
- Look at the receiver’s defender. You must always protect the basketball, and the same goes with the pass. If you want to pass to a teammate with a defender on him, put the ball on the opposite side to avoid potential reach-ins or deflections.
- Get the mechanics right. There is always a fundamental way to pass, and that should be the point of practice for any player. For the simple bounce or chest pass, start with the thumbs behind the ball and flick it so that the thumbs end up in a downward motion.
5 Tips to Better Passing in Basketball
1. Sometimes, it’s better to pass to an open spot rather than an open teammate. Your teammates may not be aware of that open spot, so lead them to it with a pass.
2. Set the defense up with your eyes. The best passers in basketball often manipulate defenses with their eyes. Look opposite of the direction you’re going to pass, and when the defense moves, then complete the intended pass.
3. Make quick decisions with the ball. Many assist opportunities go to waste just because a player decides to hold on to the ball for too long. When a teammate is open, pull the trigger fast, or that window of opportunity closes before you even realize it.
4. Know what your teammates are good at. This simply means you should be aware of what your teammates can do. For example, if your teammate is a high-flier, you would want to throw a lob pass rather than a bounce pass. Conversely, when passing to guards and smaller players, they may prefer a bounce pass rather than a lob.
5. Do not jump and pass. When you jump, ensure that it’s to shoot and not to pass. The passing lane may be cut off when you jump to pass, and you can’t readily adjust. Jumping in the air to pass is always a recipe for disaster.
Wrapping Things Up: What are the Different Types of Passing in Basketball?
Passing is arguably the most underappreciated and understated fundamental basketball skill. However, it may also be the most critical part of the offense since it results in better team chemistry and rhythm.
What is passing basketball? Passing is the intentional transfer of ball possession from one teammate to another. It is the fastest way to move the ball from one location to another. An excellent passing team frustrates and confuses the defense, often leading to open looks and easy shots.
With these things considered, passing is probably the most challenging skill to master in basketball. It requires patience, timing, and accuracy. More often than not, passing takes a back seat to scoring in the eyes of most fans. Still, every coach knows that passing is essential for basketball success.
What are the different types of passing in basketball? The chest pass, overhead pass, bounce pass, and push pass are the basic variations of passing. Some more advanced types are the lob pass, the behind-the-back, and the baseball pass. If you want to be a better basketball player, don’t neglect to develop your passing skills. Coaches and teammates like unselfish players, and passing is the ultimate benchmark of team basketball.