Similarly, many of the “trademark moves” that we see in basketball have not been taught but are simply the result of a talented player finding a way to achieve success.

Coaches can create the opportunity for players to do this by:

  • Using contested activities in practice whenever possible;
  • Having players play against older athletes (and have girls play against boys). Often older athletes are taller, have longer arm spans etc, which makes it more difficult to make passes or take shots. Players therefore need to learn how to create space and to be effective;
    Behind the back pass
  • Don’t stop activities when a player is “creative” and executes a skill differently to how it may be taught. Let the activity continue and allow the players to explore what is successful;
  • If a player has a habit that the coach believes will not be successful in games (e.g. they perform a spin move without looking), conduct an activity that will highlight the situation where the coach believes the skill will be unsuccessful.

Behind the back pass

The key to any successful pass is understanding where the passing lane is (and creating it if necessary).

Here 1 is closely defended by x1 and has 4 “trailing”. In this situation, a pass behind the back can be very effective and is quicker than stopping and pivoting.

A common mistake when players try to throw a behind the back pass is to “cup” the ball, having their hand underneath. This is often a result of not feeling in control of the ball. To make the pass successfully the player must have their hand on the side of the ball, pushing it in the direction of their teammate (if the hand is underneath the ball it will push the ball up).

Wrapping the ball around the waist as fast as possible will help players to develop a better sense of control on the ball, and will improve their ability to throw a behind the back pass.

Pocket Pass

A pocket pass is commonly used in “traffic” where there is little space. It is similar to simply dropping the ball to be picked up by a team mate, although it is thrown to direct it exactly where it needs to go. The Pass is thrown from the passer’s hip.

A post player will often use a “pocket pass” to a team mate that is cutting past them. It is important that they are passing to the side away from their own defender.

A pocket pass is also commonly used by a dribbler, particularly when they have come off a ball screen and are passing to the screener as they cut.

Pass fakes on the move

The importance of pass fakes to create a passing lane is highlighted in the mantra “fake a pass to make a pass”. Faking a pass when on the move is difficult and is most easily done when taking steps as if to shoot a lay-up.

For example, as the player picks the ball up (landing their first foot) they may fake passing in one direction, and then as they take their second step, pass in another direction (or shoot).

The effectiveness of any pass fake is increased by turning to look in the direction of the proposed pass and/or turning the upper body to that direction as well.

Pocket Pass
Behind the Back Pass