6 Tips to Improve Passing and Reduce Turnovers

1. Do overload drills to build speed and strength. Using 2-ball passing drills such as Machine Gun Passing, Middle Man Passing, Pass & Switch, and Partner Passing with 2 balls where each partner passes simultaneously will build speed and accuracy. Using drills that force players to use one hand to pass, (such as Pound Passing) especially with their weak hand, will build strength and confidence. (It is important to explain to your players that the one-hand passing drills are DRILLS to build specific skills, not techniques to use in games.)

2. Teach spacing. This is the most overlooked and possibly the most important aspect of offensive play. Teach your players what is the optimum distance they can effectively pass.

3. Teach players to shorten the pass. As an aspect of spacing, taking a dribble toward a receiver will, in certain instances, improve spacing.

4. Make the easy pass. There is no need for great passes when ordinary passes will do. Pass to an open teammate, in an area he can catch it, away from the defense. If you cannot do that, don't throw the pass.

5. Emphasize the catch. While we would all like every pass to be perfect, we all know that will not be the case. The receiver must go where he needs to go to catch the ball. This may seem unrelated, but, to draw a parallel, baseball players know that a great defensive 1st baseman makes great infielders. He covers up for bad throws and can make a shortstop a star. By emphasizing the catch, passers will become more confident and receivers more aggressive.

6. Scrimmage without dribbles. Nothing will teach players more about spacing, passing angles, getting open, and making effective passes than not allowing them to dribble. Be prepared for some initial frustration.

Remember, your players will take on your values. If you do not value passing in your practices, they will not value passing in their games.

Recommended Training Material:

Baden Heavy Training Basketball - 29.5"

Heavy weight training ball used to improve passing, dribbling, and ball skills. It can also improve core strength & and hand/arm speed. You can use the weighted ball with almost any passing or dribbling drill. Players will also improve confidence and skill with the ball....(more info)

If you have any questions or comments about passing, please post them below...


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julia says:
3/6/2019 at 9:32:09 PM

I am running an offense where the past goes from point to high post. The problems challenging me are (1) spacing - guard to high post pass, (2) type of pass, (3) creating a passing angle, (4) does post move to position or establish position (start low and move up to receive). Since starting the build on this offense it seems crowded so have worked with creating more space between guard and post, having the post come a stop higher than the FT line, having guard keep the dribble alive to establish better angle. Got players who have been told never to bounce pass to a post. Been searching for some examples and solid reasoning on why to use a particular pass and can not find anything. Any suggestions, rules that work would be helpful.


Daniel Lyons says:
12/18/2018 at 9:29:20 AM

I coach middle school girls and we have a huge issue. When we practice we do good with passing, spacing and shooting. However, in games we constantly turn the ball over. Most of the time, it's because it's not always the best the pass. It's not always on the player making the pass. At times, our players don't catch the pass.
Last night we played and the team we played was really not that good. We turned the ball over our first 6 offensive possessions, In total, we turned the ball over 28 times and took 26 shots. This is an area we desperately MUST fix. What is the best and most effective way to get this corrected?

  1 reply  

Jeff says:
12/18/2018 at 2:54:34 PM

There is no easy answer. It takes time, perseverance, and continual troubleshooting.

Here's a page with good passing drills that will help solve the problem. Choose a mix of block, interleaving and game based drills to help them improve.

With experienced players that were competent at catching, passing, and pivoting... we played a lot of no dribble drills like this to solve the problem. I'm not sure if your players are ready for that... but something to consider.


Kevin says:
1/12/2015 at 2:02:31 PM

Jeff, on the no dribble scrimmaging, can the ball handler take any steps usually? I coach 7 and 8 year olds and want to incorporate that, but I think that the defender has a huge advantage if the offensive player with the ball can't move at all.

  1 reply  

jeff says:
1/12/2015 at 2:22:36 PM

Kevin - They can only pivot or pass. No traveling. If they are beginners, start with 3 versus 1. Then 3 versus 2. Then maybe next year go 3 v 3. Basically you modify the environment so they can succeed about 50-90% of the time. If it's getting easier then crank up the difficulty. You can also go 5 v 2, etc... depending on how many players you have.

If they are really raw, you can start with something even easier like Bull in the Ring. That's actually the first drill I use when introducing defense and then build from there.

My son is currently 7 and we do quit a few no dribble drills. My daughter is older and we still do the drills. They have helped quite a bit. Great for spacing, passing, getting open, and pivoting.

Read more: http://www.breakthroughbasketball.com/articles/6passingtips.html#ixzz3OdXUODNG


Greg Tellis says:
11/10/2014 at 1:08:57 PM

Can you help the Warriors?


Djeudo Kiran says:
4/8/2014 at 8:31:59 AM

Thanks guys for the remarkable passing drills,they don't only work but the excecise is very exciting.I have thought some to my team mates and they are improving alot...
Thanks again.


Ken Sartini says:
1/7/2014 at 7:25:58 PM

Work on the drills above and you might add this one to the list.



Shawn Pischke says:
1/7/2014 at 6:03:06 PM

Hey Coach,

I'm coaching a 13-14 boys rec team and we're having trouble with turn overs due to poor passing. We have some skilled players, but not the best ball handlers...

I'll give the tips above some reps in practice and hope it helps out. We run a 3-2 motion and we seem to get on top of each other. I stress spacing, but we seem to fall apart when the ball is pressured..Any tips or ideas on how we can drill to help this?



ray says:
12/8/2013 at 10:54:01 AM

I am a basketball coach with some very good players but the better players often use passes that spin too much and are too fast for the other players to catch and shoot quickly off them. What is the advantage of spinning the ball when you have a easy pass??


Ken Sartini says:
11/7/2013 at 12:04:21 PM

The first thing you need to do is to get yourself in some semblance of good shape... the last thing you want is some cheap injury.... there goes your love.

So, start working your way slowly into the game, you've waited this long another year wont hurt you.,

If you look at the top left side of this page under HOME... you will see a lot of drills that you can use to help you...... and then its practice, practice, practice and playing.

Good luck, I hope this works out for you.


Late bloomer says:
11/7/2013 at 4:13:37 AM

Hi coach joe,

I'm 43 years old and new to basketball. I play basketball to become fit and lose my belly. But when I started to play the game I've learned to love it. How can I improve my skills despite my age and late learning? Thanks.


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