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Basketball: Passing the Ball

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Player passing the ball
Source: US DoD

Types of Passes

Two-handed Chest Pass

The two-handed chest pass is the basic pass in basketball. It is accurate and can be thrown a long distance.

To throw a two-handed chest pass, start out by placing both hands on either side of the ball. Spread your fingers out and form an oval between the thumbs and index fingers of each hand. Bring the ball close to your chest. Push the ball out towards the target, stepping toward the target at the same time.

Bounce Pass

Sometimes a direct pass is not as effective as a bounce pass. A bounce pass can be helpful in traffic as the ball can pass low by the defender making it difficult to steal. Bounce passes can provide angles that direct passes can't. With practice you will start to learn when to throw a direct pass and when to throw a bounce pass.

Overhead Pass

When you are covered by a defender, a normal chest pass can be tough to make. In this case an overhead pass can be effective in passing the ball over the head of the defender. You can fake a chest pass one way and then go to the overhead pass or vice versa.

Off the Dribble Pass

This pass takes more skill and is not as accurate as some of the above passes, but can be very effective. When you are dribbling down the court, sometimes you don't have time to gather the ball up and make a chest pass or overhead pass. You can make a pass directly off the dribble. Instead of dribbling the ball, you push the ball to another player either with a bounce (which is easier) or not.

Baseball Pass

Baseball passes are when you throw the ball a long distance using one hand and throwing it overhand like a baseball. This is not a very accurate pass and is difficult to catch. However, it is often used effectively as an outlet pass to get the ball up the court quickly on a fast break. This pass is not allowed in some youth leagues so ask your coach before using it in a game.


If you want to be a good passer you need to learn to fake out the defense. This can be done by faking a pass in one direction and then passing in the other. Another way to fake the defense is to look one way and pass the other. Don't telegraph your passes by staring down the player you are passing it to. This will get the ball stolen.

When you don't have the ball

Any time you don't have the ball you need to be ready for a pass. You should always have some of your focus on the player with the ball and know where they are. Keep your hands up and ready.

You should want the ball. Work to get open and get position. When the ball is passed to you, it is your responsibility to help out the passer and be aggressive. Go after the ball and make sure you get it and not the defender.

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