Making Basketball Passing Fundamentals Fun

There aren’t a whole lot of basketball posters featuring fundamentally sound passes. The NBA posters which do feature passes usually include a no-look pass from a player like Jason Williams or a crazy between the legs pass from Magic Johnson. 

Let’s face the facts: passing is not what most youth basketball players want to do. They want to shoot and they might even want to dribble, but passing? That’s probably about as popular as brussels sprouts for young athletes.

So how do we make passing fundamentals fun? There are a few methods to keep things interesting. Much like burying vegetables under the cheese of a pizza, here are some ways to keep youth basketball players engaged while learning how to pass.

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Basketball Passing Games for Youth Training

Games are inherently fun. This is the entire premise behind the popularity of sports like basketball. Although passing might not be the most traditionally “fun” aspect of the game, it can become a game itself!

There are no limits to this concept, but some examples include:

  • Playing offense without dribbling. You can choose to complete this drill with a live defense or with no opposition. The principal remains the same: the ball must make it from one end of the court to the other and score the basketball without any dribbles.

  • Most completed passes for time. Again, there are several variations on this idea. This could be a three or four person group simply passing the ball back and forth or a live drill with the goal of scoring a basket.

Target practice. Yet another drill which is easy to make into a game is target practice. Players should chest or bounce pass the ball into a sideways cannister or hit a target for points. The player with the most points within your rules, wins!

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Youth Basketball: Two Player Passing Drill

Of course, basketball passing must include both the passer and the receiver. Thankfully, splitting up into pairs is a highly effective way to teach passing fundamentals in a fun and interesting way. One of our favorite passing drills requires only two athletes and two basketballs.

The first player should start by being the “receiver” and the second, the “passer”. These youth athletes should stand about ten feet apart with a basketball each, facing towards one another.

The receiver will toss him or herself the ball by throwing it straight up in the air. Simultaneously, the passer will throw a chest pass to the receiver. The receiver must catch the pass and chest pass back to the passer, all before catching their tossed basketball from overhead.

This is a simple and fun way to add some excitement to regular chest pass drills. The players can reverse roles at any time to mix things up. 

Team Passing Drills for Basketball Fundamentals

Two player drills are great, but getting the entire team involved is even better for grabbing and maintaining the attention of youth basketball players. These team oriented drills are more active and exciting than traditional passing fundamental training.

Here are a couple great team passing drills to help improve your squad’s passing fundamentals:

Three-player Passing Up and Down the Court

This set-up is relatively simple. There are three players are a time who all begin by lining up along the baseline. One player will begin in the center under the basket with two wing players about 15-20 apart on either side.

The three youth athletes must run up and down the court while the wing players pass the ball to the center player, who returns it safely. The center player then rotates to the other side to do the same. The wing players should dribble the ball with their outside hand when they are not in the act of passing.

Athletes can perform this drill up and down the court in waves with your youth basketball players forming into three-person teams. 

Classic Basketball Weave Drill for Passing

This is another drill traditionally performed with three players. This drill is not only great to instill passing fundamentals, but also team communication and overall teamwork. The setup is nearly identical to our last drill with the center player having the ball instead of the two wingers.

The center player starts the drill with a verbal cue or by slapping the ball. His or her wingers begin running up the court. The first pass should be from the center player to one of the wingers. After this, each player will “weave” by moving laterally across the court to receive passes. 

This tutorial explains more details about this useful drill.