Passing: More Advanced Drills & Concepts

As your team starts to become more proficient with passing, you can start to teach more advanced concepts with passing. Being able to use passing to create scoring opportunities for teammates and also being able to think two passes in advance. A great teaching emphasis to help with creating scoring opportunities is teaching athletes to pass fake as well. Being able to get open lanes through pass fakes and looking at angles are just some of the advanced concepts.


As your teams start to take it to the next level, you need to start making the drills that you run in practice more difficult as well. Here are some of the more advanced drills that I like to run to improve passing:

  1. OSU Passing Drill. (2 players on the sideline on the right side and 2 on the left side spaced in the middle of the backcourt and frontcourt. Passer will throw a pass and run up the court to receive a return pass. They will repeat the pass to the next player before receiving a pass for a lay-up. This repeats on the other side). To take this drill to the next level, have your athletes use a medicine ball when passing.
  2. 3 on 2/2 on 1. (3 players work an a fastbreak against 2 defenders. After a shot or turnover the shooter will get back on defense. The 2 initial defenders become the offense in transition up the court). Emphasize quick scoring and limiting turnovers.

If you need a diagram of any of these drills or have questions about my descriptions, do not hesitate to leave a comment or send me an e-mail.

Passing: Basic Drills & Ideas

The basic ideas of passing are to be able to move the ball around the court to teammates without turning the ball over. I would define the basic goal of passing as an ability to set up teammates in easy scoring situations. Without these basic concepts, your teams will not be able to put more than a small amount of points up on the board.


Some basic drills that I incorporated when I first stepped in at Ontario really helped out with improving basic skill level. Here are a few drills that I incorporated to help improve our athletes:

  1. Partner passing. (Have partners pass a ball back and forth and work on stepping into each pass).
  2. Star passing. (5 lines that seem to make out a star shape and the passer throws and then runs to the line they pass to).
  3. 2 line passing. (2 players shuffle up and down the court facing each other and will pass the ball back and forth).

If you need a diagram of any of these drills or have questions about my descriptions, do not hesitate to leave a comment or send me an e-mail.

Passing: Different Types Of Passes

I’m a big advocate on trying to simplify things and I don’t want to go overboard with the types of passes that I outline here. Emphasize a mastery of all four types of passes that I am about to outline because unlike ball handling, it is crucial to be a strong passing team with each different type of pass.


Here is a list of passes that I recommend teaching:

  1. Chest.
  2. Bounce.
  3. Overhead.
  4. Handoff.

Every single one of these passes is important and has a place within any half-court and full-court offense.

Passing: Stats & Why Its Underrated

With any skill or fundamental, you need to be able to apply some kind of metric as a way to track progress. Passing as I stated in my post yesterday is the most underrated fundamental skill of all those that exist (yes, even more than defense). If you have an ability to pass the ball, it gives you a ton of flexibility on offense and also can help you out if you have a team that does not shoot the ball very well.


Statistically, teams who pass the ball well and don’t turn the ball over very much do very well in games. The result of improved passing is fewer turnovers and more assists.

Here are steps to tracking your passing:

  1. Look at the number of turnovers your team averages for the season prior to your commitment to improving ball handling and also look at the number of assists.
  2. Commit to incorporating passing drills (stay tuned next week for some ideas) into every practice and truly developing the skill level of your athletes.
  3. Start tracking the assist to turnover ratio and see if your assists are increasing and your turnovers are decreasing.
  4. In addition, when tracking turnovers, determine if they are a result of passing or ball hall handling.

The goal that I have set for my teams is to have an assist to turnover ratio of 2:1. If your team can do this, it bodes very well for your offense.

Passing: Its Importance

Passing is the most underrated basketball fundamental of all the fundamentals that I am emphasizing in this series. You can advance the ball up the court much quicker with a pass than by dribbling. Additionally, you can create scoring opportunities through passes and also force a defense to really move and work by passing the ball around the court.


Players today do not have proper footwork when it comes to passing and I strongly encourage that you start things out with reviewing my post about footwork. If an athlete is a skilled passer they will be able to help you out on offense and also will free up space on the court by requiring the attention of multiple defenders.

Passing drills should be run together as every player on your team needs to have skills and abilities to pass the ball. Having players able to pass the ball with both their right and left hand is also a skill that often gets underemphasized. Having abilities to pass with both your right and left hand is similar to having an ability to shoot lay-ups on both the left and right side.

Much like every other fundamental, I spend time in every practice working on different passing drills.

The Key Fundamentals (Ball Handling, Shooting, Passing, & Defense)

Today starts a series of posts that I will refer to as the fundamental series. Over the next few weeks I will be posting a series of posts detailing different aspects of each fundamental.


The four main fundamentals that we will be focusing on will be:

  1. Ball Handling
  2. Shooting
  3. Passing
  4. Defense

I recognize that rebounding can be considered its own category but I lumped this into the defense category and will be posting more about rebounding at a later date. If you have anything that you would specifically like to see me cover when it comes to any of these fundamentals, please send me a message and I will include an answer in the post it pertains to.

The hope is that this series will be useful to coaches of all levels as they look to improve the fundamentals of their teams.


One of the first things that you can do to help improve your athletes skills is to emphasize footwork. In my first few seasons at Ontario, I jumped right into basic skills like ball handling, passing, defense, shooting, and rebounding. These are all great skills but without proper footwork, your teams will not have the building blocks necessary to compete at their best. This past offseason, with all of my athletes including those with years of experience, we committed to spending part of each practice learning and improving our footwork.


The result of my offseason emphasis has shown on the court and we improved greatly over the summer in virtually every statistical category. Most noticeably, we lowered our number of turnovers per game which I see as a result of our new found understanding of footwork.

Some coaches might wonder how I can spend an entire post talking about footwork as it only applies to one or two aspects of the game. I counter with the fact that footwork plays a key role in every basic fundamental as I will outline below:

Ball Handling- When dribbling the ball at full speed in a game, I am sure that most coaches have told their players to jump stop. Teaching players how to jump stop and pivot will help reduce the number of turnovers on a fast break. Additionally, learning how to jab step and use fakes with footwork will help players become better scorers.

Passing- Many player will turn the ball over because they do not step into passes on the outside. Step right to throw right and step left to throw left. When trying to get a pass into the paint, you need to be able to step through with your opposite foot to protect the ball and create a passing angle.

Shooting- I have coached a lot of players who do not set their feet before they shoot. When working on jump shots I like to teach players to keep a back foot down and step in with their lead foot to power into a shot. Also, footwork on lay-ups (a euro-step is an excellent move to teach starting in high school) also plays a role in player skill development.

Defense- Pushing off the back foot when sliding is a basic technique when discussing footwork but I also point out the fact that you want to teach your athletes to keep their toe pointing forward and not out to the side because you want to use big muscles like glutes and hamstrings to power your slide. Sticking your toe out to the side works the adductors which do not have as much power and ability to provide you with a quick slide.

Rebounding-Using your feet to seal someone on  a box-out is a great technique to teach when rebounding on defense. On offense you can teach a jab and spin to help improve your offensive rebounding as well.

As you can see from the above that using attention to detail when going over footwork will help your teams get better and also further develop the skills of your athletes. I incorporate footwork into every practice and see it as a huge benefit to us.