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Teach the Basic Principals of the Passing Game

Some Simple Motion Concepts That Can Be Taught         Without Having To Make It Your Main Offense

  1. If you have the ball and do not shoot it or penetrate, you can:

    1. Pass and cut to the goal, the corner or the baseline,

    2. Pass and screen down or across/away,

    3. Pass and drift to a different angle; read to replace yourself if needed,

    4. Dribble over toward a perimeter player’s defender, pitch out, or handoff (DHO), or hit him on a backcut,

    5. Or, pass and screen the man you passed to for a pick and roll or pop.

  2. If in a position likely to receive a pass, have your hands and feet ready to step into a shot, having surveyed where all players on the court are positioned ahead of the catch. This will put you in position to react quickly, whether you will have a quick catch/shoot, a pass inside, a drive, a pass over the top, or a swing on to the next perimeter player.

  3. If you do not have the ball, initiate an action by:

    1. Cutting to an open gap in the defense but move on out to the 3-line, if you do not get the ball, in order to keep spacing,

    2. Backcutting, if you are one pass away and are denied,

    3. Fill cutting into the open space, if a player on the perimeter cuts who was between you and the ball---create a safe pass angle for the ball handler to be a part of each play,

    4. Screening the ball handler.

  4. If you are on the weak side:

    1. Look to get to a deep diagonal angle from the ball, in a position where you can see the ball—“if you can’t see it, it can’t see you.” To stay in the play you must keep a defender from being directly between you and the ball,

    2. Or, you can play “Buddy Ball” by picking a partner and go set a pick on him (use fist up as a signal and then open back up toward the ball after picking). Or, pick a partner and motion him to come pick you.

  5. If you are in the post: (unless you are a designated post man with big scoring numbers, you will post only 2 to 3 seconds and then move to:

    1. Pick across the lane or up the lane,

    2. Set a pick and roll on the ball, especially after the ball has been swung once,

    3. Pick the passer, as soon as he passes (this will be a backpack, of course),

    4. Or, cut on out wide to the corner or wing, especially if you are a shooter.

  6. Special notes for reminders:

    1. The most important pass is often the first reversal/swing pass.

    2. Never pass and simply stand—cut or pick or drift away ready to come back.

    3. Create movement!! Never stand still when you are being defended. This is done by cutting to the basket or by picking for a partner or asking for a pick.

    4. Continue a cut on past the 3-point line instead of stopping in between the foul lane area and the 3-point line (“no-man’s land”) to keep the middle open and the offense spread!

    5. Stay high at the top and wide on the wings—do not shrink your offense; keep it spread.

    6. Look to penetrate, but mainly after the ball has been swung once.


In summary it is up to each player to understand how to create movement and to maintain spacing. In that regard, each must know the “bailout spots” to fill when a teammate penetrates. The Penetration and Pass, or “Drive and Kick,” game works hand-in-hand with the Motion/Passing game against any defense to provide a concept of how to play the game without having to run a connect-the-dots programmed offense all the time. When the team understands these simple concepts they will be able to have proper spacing with ball and player movement, while maintaining defensive balance.


In crucial times in the game when the ball should be put into the hands of the better players in positions where they can succeed in a high percentage of cases, the coach can bail them out with set plays and can use special plays out of timeouts. Still, knowing the basics of motion and spacing will help a pattern team to execute better and to know how to respond when a play breaks down. In addition it can be a panacea to go to when a pattern team is lethargic, or is being stopped by the scouting reports of the opponent.


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