7 Passing Drills To Reduce Bad Passes and Score More Points

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The passing drills below should help you dramatically reduce bad passes and turnovers. This will lead to more offensive possessions ending in a shot. And that typically means more points and wins.

But first, I believe this is really important for you to think about. You could literally waste half your practice on passing drills that lead to minimal improvement during games.

And I think it's a mistake that many coaches make. I know that I made this mistake.

Quite simply, it's when you use passing drills without a defense.

I believe that a lot of bad passes are related to NOT recognizing situations and locating the defense quickly. This is especially true for experienced players over the age of 13.

Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of youth teams that still need to work on basic technical skill work with passing. This includes progressing from stationary to moving to an offensive setting:

  • Partner passing - chest, bounce, push pass, fake high pass low, fake low pass high, and overhead pass.
  • Partner passing while shuffling.
  • Partner passing while running.
  • 3 v 0, 4 v 0, and 5 v 0 fast break and offense passing.

And as your players progress, you might work on... baseball passes, passes off the dribble, one-hand passes, snap passes, behind the back passes, and pick and roll passes.

However, once the technical skill is proficient, you should put a heavy emphasis on drills with defenders present.

With youth teams, I like to do a few minutes of technical work followed by a drill with defenders. You can use some of the drills below.

With high school and college teams, I would probably use less technical drills and more constraint-based drills below. I've done this with middle school teams that I've coached as well.

Well, here are seven game-like passing drills that I like to use.

Note, we have more details and progressions for the drills if you click on the name of the drill.

Monkey In The Middle / Bull In The Ring

The two drills in this video are very basic and for beginners. However, it teaches players how to use fakes and pass around the defender. This is a critical first step to becoming a great passing team.

Continuous 3 on 2 - No Dribble Allowed

This is a full court 3 on 2 drill where you get lots of reps and have to make lots of decisions.

It's a great progression to build confidence, improve decision making, and cut down on bad passes before progressing to more difficult drills.

The most important aspect of the drill is the "scoring system". That is the key!

2 on 1 Fast Break Drill With Trailer

This isn't a high frequency passing drill like the others. However, I believe it's important to teach your players when to pass and when NOT to pass in a fast break situation.

This drill starts with a 2 on 1 situation, but you use second defender trailing. So, you will lose your offensive advantage if you don't make a decision quickly, much like in a game.

3 on 3 / 4 on 4 / 5 on 5 Full Court - No Dribble Allowed

You simply play a game where players are not allowed to dribble.

I really like this drill because it improves other skills in addition to passing. Players have to move to get open. You have to use your footwork to create space from the defense. You have utilized patience. At the same time, you have to take advantage of scoring opportunities.

Following this drill, I often progress to a 2-dribble or 3-dribble limit on each catch. This teaches them to value the dribble and attack if they're going to use it.

I like to use a scoring system for this drill too. 1 point for a basket and negative 3 points for a turnover.

5 on 3 + 2 - Fast Break Drills

Here is a great game-like fast break drill that gives the offense opportunities to recognize what options are open as they execute the 5 on 3 break. If they advance the ball quickly enough, they can get the shot that they want before the defense fills in. If not, they transition to a game-like situation where they have to execute their offense in order to score.

3 on 3 / 4 on 4 / 5 on 5 - 3 Ball Reversals Before Jump Shot

I really like this drill as it forces your players to move the ball and be patient for a good shot. It also encourages them to move the ball side to side. More ball reversals lead to more defensive breakdowns and high percentage shots.

At the same time, it still encourages aggressiveness by attacking when opportunities present themselves.

You simply play 4v4. However, you can only shoot a jump shot after 3 ball reversals. You still allow lay ups. This encourages the offense to still be aggressive and look for easy baskets.

Designated Shooter

Even though we just posted this in a recent newsletter, I believe the Designated Shooter is a great drill for improving all aspects of your offense including passing.

The drill is just as it sounds. The coach designates a shooter.

And the rules are simple. The shooter is the only one who can shoot the ball. The operative word here is "can" not "must."

It might sound a little bit drastic, but it is very effective.

The shooter cuts, comes off screens, passes, backdoors, and does what they need to do in order to get open. Everyone else is designated to get the shooter open. They can screen, pass or do whatever is necessary to get the shooter open.

The defense should not know who the shooter is until they shoot it.

Also, be patient with these drills. Some teams need a lot of work.

For younger or inexperienced teams, it can take multiple seasons of work to get better at passing.

More Solutions To Better Passing and Offensive Teams:

These drills can be found from the following videos and resources:

Don Kelbick's Transition Offense and the Four-Second Fast Break

Don Kelbick's Motion Offense -- DVD 2-Pack & Supplemental eBook

21 Basketball Passing Drills - For Coaches

Breakthrough Basketball Camps

What do you think? Let us know by leaving your comments, suggestions, and questions...


Most Likes First   Oldest First   Newest First

Arion Barnes says:
1/24/2017 at 3:50:06 PM

How do I Play like a pro basketball player?


Newbie says:
1/20/2017 at 3:35:28 PM

As a first year coach with high school girls who are brand new to the sport, this site has been a welcome resource. Having never run a practice before, these drills help me immensely. Some I have already used as a player, but I've learned quite a bit more.

I've also watched our boys' coaches run a practice...their coaches have been coaching for several years. They are using many of these drills also. I know they work.

Thanks again.


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