Types of Basketball Passes

An essential part of basketball is passing. The skill of a passing sometimes gets overlooked because it is not as exciting as a scoring play. It goes without saying that a team cannot advance the ball down the court to score without solid passing. To open up shooting lanes, and to rotate your offense around the key trying to create scoring opportunities requires effective passing. Good passing within the offense can actually draw defenses out of position thus giving you a wide open shot.

Passing is the unselfish play that is for the greater good of the team. It is important to create chemistry amongst the team by drilling and practicing passing. You want to get to the point where teammates can operate quick fluid passing without speaking a word. They know where to be on the court and how to move without the ball.

The fundamentals of passing are basic, but the art of passing is next level. Some of the basic passes have variations depending on in-game situations. Once a player learns the basics they can then begin picking up on when to and why to be creative with their passing. The next time you’re on the basketball court could be a game changer. Keep reading and discover a new passion for passes.

Chest Pass

The chest pass is one of the most common types of passes used in basketball. A good chest pass needs to be quick but not too hard and fast to catch. For a chest pass you put both hands on the outside of the ball at chest height with your thumbs behind the ball. Push the ball straight out aiming for your teammates chest. Depending on how strong you are will dictate how far you are able to pass the ball.

Keep this in mind when deciding what type of pass to use in a game. You can practice a chest pass on your own by bouncing a pass off a wall in or out of the gym. This type of drill will help you determine how far you can actually make a chest pass. Try to put a little back spin on it as you pass.

A chest pass is usually best to use on the perimeter of the key where there is less traffic as compared to the middle of the lane or lower post up corners. Chest passes are easier to knock out the air because they travel higher than other passes so choose wisely.

Bounce Pass

The next type of pass is the bounce pass. You can get really creative with a bounce pass. A bounce pass is great for leading a teammate. A bounce pass can be short and sweet or long and strong, traveling far down the court in a quick change of direction after a steal.

You can use one or both hands for a bounce pass depending on the situation. You can even fake a high pass and get the defender to jump, then pull the ball down and deliver a quick bounce pass down low and catch the other team by surprise. This will now make the other team respect you a little more and give them more to think about.

Bounce passes are better served inside the key where there are a lot of bodies jostling around for position. Keeping a bounce pass quick and low is important so defenders can’t intercept or steal the ball. It is a very effective type of pass to use off the dribble without stopping and giving the other team time to set up and defend.

Overhead Pass

Tall players need tall passes to succeed. The overhead pass allows a smaller guard player to pass to a taller forward or center down low. You can even add a jump to this type of pass if needed. On the reverse of that, a taller player can use their height to their advantage with an overhead pass as a way to keep the ball away from pesky defenders as they survey the court deciding where to pass the ball.

By delivering an overhead pass the player who catches the pass overhead is instantly in position to shoot the ball. This is a great way to take advantage of a teammates lofty height difference. You see teams use the overhead pass in a bit of an “around the world” style of passing where they quickly catch and pass to teammates around the court trying to move the defense out of position by getting them to chase the ball.

As always you can fake a low bounce pass and get the defense to commit then pull it back and loft it over their head giving your team a scoring advantage. Overhead passing is also a great way to advance the ball down the entire court with one pass when a player gets behind the defense. This is a type of fast break created by heads up play makers.

Creative Passing

Besides the basic fundamental passing found in basketball, there are always variations of those basics. You can use a wraparound pass when being guarded closely. This is when you wrap the ball around a defender to your teammate.

One version of passing which is always electric is the alley-oop pass. This can be from an overhead position or chest pass variation. The alley-oop is a timing pass where a player sends the ball in the general direction of the hoop instead and a teammate flys up and over, catches the ball in midair and finishes with a slam dunk to crush the other team’s soul. Ouch.

You will see very flashy passes like behind-the-back passing made famous by Dr. J back in the day. A good behind-the-back pass can really make a defender’s head spin. This pass is done by throwing the ball around your back unexpectedly in the opposite way you think a pass should go. It is very hard to predict and even harder to defend. Use this sparingly so the other team stays guessing.


The best part of passing is there is a limitless amount of creative ways to get the ball to your teammates. There are basic safe passes then there are risky, high reward passes like behind-the-back show stoppers.

Starting with basic fundamentals are important to secure possession but trying ideas in practice to use later in games is also valuable. Passing is unselfish and vital for team success. Having a great shot is crucial but also being able to set up a teammate by using a creative pass is just as game changing. Master the basics but always evolve.


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