Man in the Middle Passing

Categories: Passing  Press Breaker  
Ages: All Ages  Youth  Middle School  High School+  

Purpose of the Drill:

Improves players passing and ability to pass under pressure. This is a particularly important drill if you face any type of defensive pressure (whether it's full court, half court, traps, or aggressive M2M). That's because when you face pressure, players are constantly running at you to trap, disrupt, and cause turnovers. This drills helps players handle those situations more effectively.


  • You have two offensive players facing each other. Have them spaced around 10 feet apart. You can position the players anywhere on the court.
  • The defensive player in the middle runs towards the ball, mirrors the ball, and tries to deflect it.
  • The offensive player's use pivots and pass fakes to make an accurate pass. In this instance, Player 1 passes to Player 2.
  • The defensive player now runs at Player 2 and tries to deflect the ball. Player 2 should wait for the defensive player to get close before they pass the ball.
  • They continue this process passing the ball back and forth until the defensive player gets a deflection. Then they change places.


  • As a variation, you can add another defensive player to add difficulty and simulate a trap. The drill works the exact same way except now you have two defensive players trying to deflect the ball instead of one.

Points of Emphasis:

  • You can optionally allow the offensive players to take one dribble to improve their passing angle.
  • Be sure players use good footwork to create space and good passing angles.
  • Be sure players use pass fakes to move the defense.
  • Be sure offensive players stay low and stay strong with the ball. In other words, don't let them be loose with the ball or bring the ball behind their head. The defense can easily smother them if they bring the ball behind their head.

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Ken Sartini says:
10/31/2014 at 9:55:24 AM

Here is a thought...... I remember having this one big post player, every time we got him the ball, h e dribbled it one time....... I decided that was not going to happen any more.

Every time he did that, I stopped the practice and made him give me 2 pushups, nothing drasctice mind you but it did break that habit. (just enough to remind him that was not going to be allowed and that it was not going to help his game)


Jeff Haefner says:
10/31/2014 at 6:06:25 AM

Cody -

I think he mainly needs time. As you continually emphasize the right way to play defense and he fouls out, he will learn that he needs to adjust and stop grabbing his man. Nobody wants to foul out!

You can also call him on that foul every time he does it in practice. Blow the whistle and call him out on it. Be consistent and diligent about calling that in practice. Generally if a player does something in practice they'll also do it in the game. So the good habits start there.


Cody Valenzuela says:
10/30/2014 at 4:11:02 PM

4th and 5th grade boys basketball coach here.


I have a really strong post player who recently has been MAJORLY hugging other players when they have the ball which causes the foul. I keep telling him that he can't hug the other team in order to get the ball. he literally wraps his arms all the way around and will almost piggy back them. We do defense slides all of the time and work with him.. Does anyone have any ideas? He really is a good player but this thing keeps getting him fouls and last game he fouled out.
Thanks guys!



jimbiggs says:
8/25/2010 at 8:09:10 PM

I used the double team variation with my kids last year. If you get trapped and you want to split the double team so you can pass or shoot, then you must back pivot. The defender will move up towards the ball. Then front pivot. Then front pivot again and rip the ball through and past the defender. So you're pulling the ball side defender up, so you can pivot past him. At this point you should be free for a second to pass off or even take a shot if your within range.


Rusty May says:
8/12/2010 at 10:22:18 AM

Thank you, I've been working on passing out of the double team for 2 weeks and this is a good drill for that.


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