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How to: Pass the Ball, Part II


NBA

Threading the needle


Although there are universal truths to passing the ball well, such as always hitting the open man, these can be theoretical in nature and difficult to work on as an individual. For most players, this is one of the hardest aspects to train on your own, compared to skills like shooting or even the defensive shuffle. It is also a challenge to effectively simulate in-game situations.


Delivery: Despite these obstacles, it is possible to work on your delivery. For instance, working on your wrist strength and having a sharp, snappy follow-through will allow you to throw quick, crisp passes. You should also work on accuracy, which can take the form of aiming for very specific spots on a wall, similar to how the ball has to reach your teammates in their shooting pocket.


Vision: Vision is infinitely harder to work on, but a good place to start is with game film. By studying film extensively, you will be aware of what you should or should not do in certain situations. This can also simulate game-day experience. You can hit ‘pause’ on the remote and think about the passing options in that instance, and about what makes a good or bad pass.


Imagination: Game film can help here too, by showing you the endless types of possible passes. This is not about looking for fancy passes, as those are usually situational and instinctual. Instead, you can learn to recognize the circumstances under which these passes can be thrown. When the opportunity presents itself, do not be afraid to throw a riskier or more difficult pass. Making mistakes allows you to learn what works and what does not.


Understanding: Beyond studying film, you have to study your teammates. Through knowing their tendencies and strengths, you will be able to deliver the ball where they can perform at their best. In addition, you need to understand how your team plays. Pocket passing opportunities in the pick-and-roll will present themselves time and time again, for example, and it is good to work on these if your team emphasizes these plays.