Eyes Behind Your Head: Becoming A More Effective Passer
Whether you are a guard or a big man, the skill of passing is one of the most important fundamentals that you can add to your basketball repertoire. Throughout the next few paragraphs, we will explore what you can do as a basketball player to become a better passer. Becoming a better passer will not only make you a more effective player, you will be able to improve the effectiveness of your teammates by getting them easy baskets.
Being able to see the floor effectively is a cerebral skill that is developed over the course of your basketball career. Being able to see the floor effectively is similar to taking a mental picture of the offensive and defensive players, and storing that information in your mind to the point where you can almost predict what is going to happen next.
Knowing your personal is also key as you want to get your teammates in the best position to score and not pass it to them when they are out of their comfort range. Peripheral vision is also a great technique to develop as you want to be always looking forward, but still want to be aware of what is going on to the left and right of you.
Post-Passing and Passing to Shooters
Being able to make an entry pass to a big man posting-up has become a lost art in the game of basketball. Having the proper angle is key while feeding the post as you do not want to commit a turnover. You also want to make sure that the individual posting-up has sealed the defender behind them before you make the pass. Look for the outstretched hand of your teammate posting up, and avoid throwing the pass down around their ankles. This could also lead to a turnover or throw off their rhythm to the point where they hoist up an awkward shot.
Passing accurately to shooters is something your teammates will greatly appreciate. Always try to pass the basketball into their “shooting pocket” as this will increase the likelihood of them making the shot. If you are having trouble trying to visualize the shooting pocket, imagine it like a catcher’s mitt located around the numbers on the front of your teammate’s jersey. If you have to make your shooters lean to get the pass, they are going to be off balance and most likely not be in a good rhythm to make the basket.
Being able to perform some of these tasks while in a stationary position is one thing, but mastering how to complete them while you are in motion and dribbling, will greatly increase your effectiveness as a passer.
Be Willing, Be Unselfish
Remember that scoring is not that most important part of basketball, most would argue that passing is the most important part of the game. For example, the Miami Heat were defeated in the NBA Finals last season mainly because the San Antonio Spurs dismantled them with passing. Miami’s effective and athletic defense could not keep up with the speed of San Antonio’s passing. No matter what, defenders cannot move as fast as when the ball is moving in the air. So when you get a pass, don’t make the ball stick and try to do fancy dribbling moves. Keep the ball moving and you are more likely to receive it back at some point, and your teammates will be more willing to pass to you if they know they are not throwing it into “the black hole.”
Becoming an effective passer is a skill, but it is also a state of mind when you feel good about helping others score baskets. As you continue to improve your ability as a passer, you will start to notice that you are able to see things that no one else on the court can. A lot of the glory is focused on the individual who makes the game winning shot, but always remember that someone, maybe you, has to get them the ball so they are in a position to succeed.
Contributing writer Jasen Sousa for Premier Hoops is the author of a number of poetry and fiction books for young people. Jasen has an M.F.A. in Creative Writing and is a life-long participant and fan of the game of basketball.