Tuesday, June 16, 2015


The following guidelines for effective passing comes "Coaching Basketball's Blocker-Mover Motion Offense," written by Coach Kevin Sivils.  I've known Kevin for many years.  He is a student of the game and in fact, the teachings of Coach Don Meyer and Dick Bennett are major part of his inspiration for penning this book.

Use Hand Targets to Communicate With the Passer

Passing requires communication between the player in possession of the ball and the player who desires to receive the ball.  Verbal communication can be misunderstood or not heard during the chaos of game.  Visual signals with hands cannot be misunderstood and for this reason is a more effective method of communicating a cutter's intent to the passer.

Three basic hand signals must be learned buy all players, allowing the cutter/shooter to communicate intent and the passer to anticipate where to pass the ball way from the defense.  The first is an extended open hand, indicating the direction away from the goal the cutter/shooters intends to cut towards.

The second hand signal is the clinched fist, indication the shooter/cutter intends to cut "backdoor," in the direction of the goal.  This cut is used when the defense is applying intense overplay denial defense, a common tactic used against excellent 3-point shooters in the desire to prevent the shooter from receiving the ball beyond the 3-point arc.

The third and final hand signal is used to indicate the shooter is open and ready to shoot upon receiving the ball.  This signal is indicated by the shooter having hands in the shooting pocket, knees bent ready to shoot and being squared up to the goal.  The shooter needs only to catch the pass in order to shoot if the passer makes and accurate pass directly into the shooting pocket.

Pass Away From the Defense

Turnovers due to intercepted passes are usually a result of passing the ball to a teammate.  Sounds silly, but it is true.  Unless the teammate is wide open for a shot, the ball should never be passed directly to the teammate.  Instead, the ball must be passed away from the defense.

Shorten the Pass

Not only must the passer pass the ball away from the defense using a frozen rope, the cutter/shooter must "shorten the pass" by stepping the direction of the oncoming pass to meet the ball.  This decreases the chances of the defense intercepting the pass and increases the likelihood of a foul on an aggressive defender.

Pass the Ball Where it Can Be Caught

It is not enough to pass the ball away from the defense.  The ball has to be passed to the receiver in a location the receiver can safely catch the ball.  Passing the ball where it can be caught entails two different concepts.  The first concerns the receiver physically being able to catch the ball.  The second involves court and defender location.