Passing Drill: Find the Open Man
Drill Purpose (All Ages)

This is a fun passing drill that will improve passing accuracy, reduce turnovers, stimulate quick thinking, and help players anticipate their opponent's actions.


  1. Divide your team up into two groups and line them up in three opposing rows.

  2. The player in the first column must pass the ball to a teammate in the next column. The ball may be passed to the player either straight across or diagonal from them.

  3. The opposing player in the middle will guard a player and try to block or intercept the pass.

  4. The ball may not be held on to for more than two seconds.

   findopenman1 (5K)

  1. Once the ball is caught, they must turn and pass the ball to a teammate in the column behind them.

  2. The goal is to get the ball from one end of the court to the other, without committing a turnover. It's considered a turnover if the ball is held for more than two seconds.
   findopenman2 (5K)

Points of Emphasis

Continually tell your players...

  • Use pass fakes!
  • Use your pivot to create space between you and your defender.
  • Make accurate passes.
  • Pass away from the defender.

Motivation / Teaching Tips

Tip #1 - Call out different types of passes that they are required to make (bounce, chest, one-hand step through, etc). You'll find that most players tend to stick with one or two types of passes. By calling out different types of passing, you force them to improve all types of passing skills.

Tip #2 - Add competition to the drill by timing how long it takes to get the ball to the other end. See which team can do it the quickest without committing a turnover.

Do you have any suggestions for this drill? Let us know by leaving your comments and questions...

jssocials alternate:


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thurman says:
2/13/2007 at 11:14:55 AM

nice drill. I'm going to give this a try
thanx much


Brian Jones says:
2/13/2007 at 11:31:01 AM

Thanks for the drills. I've used them to get alot out of a 1 hr. practice. They've really helped.


Kenkaid says:
2/13/2007 at 11:46:00 AM

This drill came just in time for me I have been looking for another type of passing drill thanks!


niki says:
2/13/2007 at 6:18:14 PM

basketball season has just started. and my husband has been going over his drills trying to come up with new ones.thanks to your newsletter i can now offer some assistances with your help thank you.


Loni says:
2/13/2007 at 11:34:14 PM

I am in teachers college, and I am grateful for all of your wonderful ideas...I will be incorporating them on my practicum. Cheers.


Jerry says:
2/14/2007 at 8:40:09 AM

The blue circles are on offense and the triangle is defense. After the first pass, I do not understand step "5. Once the ball is caught, they must turn and pass the ball to a teammate in the COLUMN BEHIND THEM.".


Jeff says:
2/14/2007 at 8:56:46 AM

Jerry -

To answer your question, yes, the blue circles represent players on offense and the triangles represent players on defense.

When a blue/offensive player catches the ball, they should turn and pass it to the next offensive player in line. They can choose either player (diagonal or straight across), just don't pass it to the defense. The defense will be trying to deflect the ball. The goal is to get the ball from the beginning of the line all the way to the other end without the defense touching the ball. The picture in the drill should help you understand.

Hope this helps.

  1 reply  

Trish M says:
1/14/2017 at 7:03:41 PM

I had the same question. How many players are on this court at the same tie? 15 or 10? Are the numbered circles cutting on a diagonal or is there a third row of offensive players?


kenny says:
2/14/2007 at 2:52:34 PM

Last night we were practicing passing drills. This drills will be great, we will practice this tonight. Thanks..Great Job!!!!


behnam says:
2/21/2007 at 8:14:02 AM

whate happen when a defense defelect a pass


Jeff says:
2/26/2007 at 12:54:00 PM

Good question. Yes, if the ball is deflected they should start over.

Jeff Haefner


Mike says:
11/12/2007 at 3:42:12 PM

My passes are a lot smoother now, thanks!


Marlon says:
11/24/2007 at 9:28:14 AM

A nice creative drill that makes practice fun.


Chuck says:
7/19/2008 at 3:21:32 PM

There is no dribbling allowed ... correct?


Joe Haefner says:
7/20/2008 at 9:55:45 AM


You are correct. There is no dribbling allowed.


Scott P says:
12/10/2008 at 9:48:58 AM

Wouldn''t it be better to have 4 defenders rather than 5? Makes defenders work harder, and gives a bit more passing opportunity for passers (especially young ones) to find the opening, especially if they are restricted to a simple pivot.

I assume that the receivers are standing still as well or are they cutting?

In step 5 you say "Once the ball is caught, they must turn and pass the ball to a teammate in the column behind them." Don''t you mean "... they must hand the ball the a teammate standing next to them."?? I''m not sure I''m understanding that step.

Thanks! Great site - great advice for us newbie coaches.


Joe Haefner says:
12/10/2008 at 1:16:13 PM

As long as the court is wide enough, it really wouldn't matter, because only 1 defender can defend the next pass which is the defender that is asigned to the column. For example, in the first diagram, Triangle 1 is the defender and he's defending the pass made to one of the players in the next column.

The receivers are standing still.

"Pass behind them" might worded funny. It means pass to the one of the two players in the line next to them.


Red Auerbach says:
3/22/2011 at 5:28:15 PM

This is an awesome drill i use it all the time


Coach Jim says:
3/24/2011 at 1:17:51 AM

According to the rules wouldnt be ok to pass the ball just straight down the line or is it once you pass to a player next to you you then have to pass it across.? #5 is confusing, because a plaer next to you would be defendable unless the defender can move? Please help.


dr.wisam says:
10/8/2011 at 8:33:52 AM

i hope drill better than


Peter says:
9/19/2013 at 8:26:40 AM

Hi, Sorry I must be a little stupid. does this drill mean that each group consists of ten players.
What I mean, is that 5 players are on the base line and 5 opposite. Or does it mean that there are only five in a group and they move along the base and opposite side themselves trying to get to the end. Thanks a million
Great website


Gus Garcia says:
5/13/2014 at 1:33:14 PM

how much apart the need to be from one onather?


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