How to Coach Basketball
Teaching the Basketball Pass

basketball pass

Learn how to coach basketball youth teams the passing skills they need to run a simple offense.

Each type of basketball pass is broken down into basic training tips perfect for beginners.

Taking care of the ball is one of the most important skills of the game. After introducing young players to basketball dribbling drills, basketball passing drills should be the next step.


Basketball is a team sport, and making a good basketball pass is the foundation upon which every good basketball offense is built.

How to Coach Basketball: 10 Youth Basketball Training Tips

Teams that rely solely on individual players dribbling the ball around the court will find they won't be able to put many points up on the scoreboard against a good defensive team.

Youth basketball players need to learn early the fundamentals of passing a basketball as well as catching a basketball. Until they are able to throw and receive a ball with confidence, there won't be a whole lot of team play.

Steve Nash

There are 6 common basketball passes that you'll see throughout the course of most games. Some of them are more advanced and won't be used by most basketball youth teams, but I'll introduce them to you, so players can give them a try when they are ready.

An important part of learning how to coach basketball is teaching players how to apply fundamental skills to game situations. Players need to know how to throw each pass and when to use each one.

Start at the top of the list with the bounce pass and advance down the list as players are able. The behind-the-back pass is the most difficult and least used pass. Kindergarten basketball players certainly won't need this pass yet.

The first passes that should be taught are the:

Bounce Pass
Chest Pass
Overhead Pass

These passes use 2 hands, and they are the easiest for younger players to execute.

Once players master the first 3 basic passes and get a little stronger, they can move on to the more advanced basketball passes.

One-Hand Push Pass
Baseball Pass
Behind-the-Back Pass

Basketball passing drills are the best way to teach young to pass a ball against a defender.

I use a 3-step teaching approach to prepare players to be successful in the basketball training drills:

How to Coach Basketball Passing Skills


Explain and demonstrate the fundamentals of each pass. Teach players when to use each one.


Have player pass with a partner. Make sure that the players are stepping with each foot. Ask them to alternate their lead foot when they seem ready.


Have players add the element of movement with the pass. Learning how to lead your partner with a pass is an important skill they need to learn.

Basketball Passing Drill with Slide: Line each partner up on opposite sides of the lane (about 8-10 feet apart.) Players should pass the ball back and forth as they slide (not run!) together down the court. As players get used to sliding and passing, they should increase speed and try moving while executing each type of pass.

How to Coach Basketball
Beginning Passers

Before you can an teach basketball youth teams the types of passes, you need to introduce some basic fundamentals of passing and catching.

How to Coach Basketball
Fundamentals Passing & Catching


Hands should be on the sides of the ball with the thumbs behind facing up.

Elbows should be loose and at sides (no chicken wings!)

As the arms extend, the palms rotate naturally outward and the thumbs rotate downward. This should cause the ball to spin backwards as it flies.

Step in the direction of your target, extending your legs, back, and arms.

Force your wrists "through" the ball. Emphasize forcing your weak hand through the ball – the strong hand tends to dominate.

The ball will go where your fingers direct it. Releasing it off the first and second fingers of both hands provides backspin and gives the ball direction.

Follow through by pointing your fingers at the target with the palms facing down.


Arms should be extended without locking the elbows, and the palms should be facing the passer.

All body parts should be "squared up" to the passer.

As the ball reaches the hands, the player should naturally "give" with the pass; catch it softly by bringing it into the body.

Never let the hands rotate and attempt to catch the ball on the sides; this is how people get hit in the nose! Keep your palms facing the ball, so your hands act as a shield.

**If player is afraid of the ball:

Begin with the bounce pass as players are generally less scared since it is caught at the waist rather than closer to the head.

Consider using a foam or rubber ball until they get comfortable.

How to Coach Basketball

When to Use:

  • At the end of a fast break, when passing to a player in the post, or to a player making a backdoor cut.
  • Most effective when it begins with a shot fake or high-pass fake.
  • It's the slowest of all passes. Never throw a cross-court bounce pass because the pass is easily intercepted.


  • Passer should aim to bounce the ball about 2/3 of the distance between himself and his partner.
  • The partner should receive the ball at the waist area.
  • The pass should be pushed outward, not thrown down.
  • The pass should start at the waist with arms extending out toward the spot where the ball should bounce.
  • The hands should follow through about waist high.
  • The bounce pass should never begin from their chest or overhead. This will cause the ball to bounce too high.
  • If your player is having trouble, place a piece of tape on the spot where the pass should bounce.

How to Coach Basketball

When to Use:

  • Most efficient and effective pass for ball movement.
  • To get the ball to a teammate when there is no defender in the passing lane.
how to coach basketball


  • Pass should begin at the passer's chest and be caught at the receiver's chest area.
  • The ball's flight should not have much of an arc; it should be a pretty straight flight.
  • The hands should follow through chest high.
  • Pay careful attention to your player's elbows. Make sure they are not flying out into "chicken wings." This will force their hands to rotate incorrectly and ultimately reduce accuracy and strength with the pass.

How to Coach Basketball

When to Use:

  • To pass over your defender.
  • Great for skip passes across the court, for outlet passes, or to feed a post.


  • Passer should begin with the ball just above the forehead with elbows facing the target. Don't bring the ball behind your head. It can be stripped from the back, and it takes longer to throw the pass.
  • Grip the ball with the fingers pointed upward and thumbs on the back of the ball pointing inward.
  • A good rule of thumb is that if the arms were rotated downward, the elbows would graze the ribs.
  • This pass should be aimed toward the partner's forehead. She should receive it at about chin level.
  • Many kids are weak in their upper body and triceps muscles, so they will find this to be a more difficult pass.
  • The hands should follow through forehead high and should look just like a bounce pass or a chest pass, just higher.

How to Coach Basketball
Intermediate Passers

Once your player feels comfortable with the first 3 basic passes and is strong enough to throw a ball with one hand, it's time to add the one-handed push pass and the baseball pass.

How to Coach Basketball

When to Use:

  • To pass under the arms of players or past a defender who is guarding closely.
  • It can be a direct pass or a bounce pass.
  • It works best when the passer fakes high and then passes low.

basketball training


  • Just like a regular bounce pass, the passer should aim to bounce the ball about 2/3 of the distance between herself and her partner.
  • The partner should receive the ball in the waist area.
  • The pass should be pushed outward, not thrown down.

  • To teach this pass, a player needs to have an obstacle to step around. I suggest using a cone or something small at first, which is placed about two feet from the passer directly in between the passer and the receiver.
  • The passer should step around the obstacle with the opposite foot from the hand she is passing with. It's a crossover step.
  • Then, the ball should be passed around the obstacle to her partner. If passing on the left side of the body, the left hand should be used to pass. If passing on the right side, use the right hand.
  • The problem most kids will have is being strong enough to throw this pass with one hand, especially the "off-hand" (the non-dominant arm). Don't worry if the pass is weak at first. It is a new skill that will improve with time.

How to Coach Basketball

When to Use:

  • To make a long pass to a player down the court and on the inbounds pass. It's a difficult pass to control.


  • The baseball pass is thrown just like you would throw a baseball.
  • This is a very difficult pass for kindergarten and early elementary basketball players to execute because they have difficulty controlling the ball with their small hands and generating enough strength to throw it very far with any accuracy.
  • The passer should be facing sideways to the target (parallel to the sideline) with the throwing hand back.
  • Body weight should start on the back foot.
  • Keep two hands on the ball as long as possible, so you can stop or fake if necessary.
  • Passer begins with the ball behind his ear with his opposite arm extended and pointing toward the target.
  • The fingers are spread behind the ball.
  • Bring the ball forward past the ear by leading with the elbow and stepping with the opposite foot.
  • Shift the weight to the front foot and follow through in the direction of the throw.

How to Coach Basketball

When to Use:

  • Use in a fast break situation when two offensive players are attacking one defender. This is an advanced pass that is hard to control.


  • Pivot on the ball of your back foot and turn your body toward your passing arm side.
  • Keep both hands on the ball as you move it to a position behind your hip.
  • Cup the ball in your throwing hand. Your passing hand should be behind the ball and your non-passing hand in front (closest to the receiver.)
  • Swing your throwing arm in a circular path around the body and behind the back.
  • Provide the force of the pass by a whip of the arm.
  • Extend the passing arm and flex the wrist and fingers, releasing the ball off the fingertips.
  • Point your fingers at the target on the follow-through with your palm facing up and passing arm hitting your back.

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