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How to pass the basketball in the Opportunity Offense

Three basic basketball passes need to be practiced in order to properly execute this half-court basketball offense; however, in emergencies, a player can pitch the ball in a variety of unusual ways. In spite of these unusual circumstances, these three basic passes will serve your needs very well:

  1. The two-handed chest pass Ė This pass snapped with both hands is necessary in getting the ball wing-to-point and point-to-low-post. It is quicker than the bounce pass and more difficult to intercept. Use this pass for passes that are longer than usual. This offense against the zone press usually require longer passes than usual.
  2. The two-handed bounce pass Ė This pass may be started with both hands but terminated with one. It is used often to get the ball from guard to forward in initiating the offense. Others may be used but the bounce is a good one.
  3. The two-handed overhead pass Ė This pass gives the passer a chance to use vertical up-and-down fakes that are more effective in making the defender raise and lower his arms. Remember that fakes should be up and down and not side to side. It is difficult to pass the ball by an opponent. You will have better success in passing over or under him.

Nearly every pass requires the use of split vision. This does not mean blind passing, but means a slight turn of the head with the side vision concentrating fully on the receiver while the primary vision fakes the defender.

Even outstanding ball handlers have trouble passing on the move. Most dribblers and cutters cannot pick up the ball and pass-off accurately and quickly without walking or having the ball intercepted. To be successful, you must spend a great deal of time on this type of passing. It is an absolute skill needed in attacking basketball pressure defenses.

Impulse passing causes more turnovers than anything else. The player sees a receiver in a spot where it is difficult to deliver the ball; yet, he has the impulse to thread the needle with a pass that would make him look like Steve Nash. Actually defensive players are so lazy about keeping the arms up that they successfully execute enough of these poor percentage passes that encourages them to try again and again.

In the Equal Opportunity Offense, there is no pass that must be made. For every passing situation there is a counter move. If the receiver is not open to safely receive the pass, run the counter move.

Donít knock your receiver down with a hard pass. Years ago, most coaches felt a hard pass was a good one. The passer who put zip on the ball and made the receiver rock was considered the best passer. I believe there is a perfect speed between the floater and the bullet pass that works best. A pass should be made quickly; however, quick passes are not necessarily hard passes.

Donít float the ball. A floater is up for grabs and belongs to the first player who can get it and this includes defenders. You should react to any floater as if the pass was meant for you. Do not throw in the general direction of your receiver. Throw to some specific spot on the receiver. If he is wide open pass to his chest. He can receive and be ready to shoot the ball, pass the ball, or dribble. If your receiver is breaking to meet the ball, yet has some defensive pressure, pass to his outside hand. Even then, donít pass six feet from his outside hand. Pass directly to his outside hand.

I could talk as much about receiving the ball as passing it. All a kid needs to learn to pass and catch a basketball is a ball and a wall. Let me say here, that a receiver is always expected to catch the ball even if itís a bad pass. Maintaining every procession of the ball is precious, even though they must run through a brick wall to get it.

See How to Teach Passing the Basketball

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