Youth basketball passing drills are great for teaching two of the most fundamental, yet often neglected skills in basketball: passing and catching.
Photo: Some rights reserved by USAG-Humphreys
Young players are just developing the gross motor skills needed to perform these skills.
The drills below build in complexity, starting with simple stationary drills for beginners and moving to dynamic, game-like drills involving cutting, dribbling, and shooting.
The passing basketball drills in this article are perfect for 1 player. Check out more drills for 2 or more players.
Why is a focus on passing and catching so important? Because basketball is a team sport. Players may be able to dribble and shoot, but if they can't pass the ball to teammates or receive a pass in return, it's impossible to run an offense.
Since most basketball drills require passing and catching, it's really important to teach players the fundamentals. Until players can catch the ball consistently, they're more likely to get hurt.
Players need to use a variety of passes throughout a game. The youth basketball drills below give players the opportunity to work on all of them. Before advancing to the drills, learn how to execute the following types of basketball passes:
The following drills can be performed for a certain amount of time, like 30 seconds, or a specified number of repetitions, like 10 each.
Start with stationary ball handling drills to warm up the hands. These drills focus on building coordination and confidence handling the ball with both the stronger and weaker hands.
How to do a ball spin: With both hands on the side of the ball, thumbs up, and fingers pointing out in front, flip the ball by rotating the wrists quickly so the thumbs face the chest and the fingers point up. This quick rotation puts a backspin on the ball that should make it return to the player.
Players pass the ball to themselves by tossing it out in front of them with a backspin so that it lands a couple feet away and spins back toward them before executing the following skills:
Jump Stop – Jump stop to meet the ball, catch it with both hands, and hold it in triple threat position.
Pass Basketball & Move – Catch the pass with a jump stop and then add a basketball move.
Shooting Form – Catch the pass, jump stop, and go up for an imaginary jump shot, releasing the ball with good shooting form.
Turn and Shoot – Catch the pass, square up to the basket, and shoot.
Turn, Move & Shoot – Catch the pass, square up to the basket, make a basketball move, and shoot.
If you have a basket, great! If you don't, players can still get a ton of benefit out of working on their technique while shooting at an imaginary target.
For these drills, I'll assume you don't have a basketball rebounder sitting out in your driveway or on the court. If you do, you can use it instead of a wall. These rebounders are awesome for players who want to work on making moves or taking shots off the pass when no one is available to pass for them.
about 10 feet from the wall in a good balanced position. Pass and catch
the ball as quickly as possible in a specified period of time. Try this
with each type of pass.
Rapid Fire – How many passes can a player make in 30 seconds? 60 seconds?
Wall Tosses – Use one hand to pass and catch the ball.
Wall Tosses Behind Back – Similar to Wall Tosses, but use a behind the back pass instead of a push pass. The pass and the catch are done with one hand only.
2-Ball Circles – Stand facing the wall about 3 feet away with feet about shoulder width apart. With a ball in each hand, start the drill with a one-hand push pass to the wall with the right hand, quickly transfer the second ball from the left hand to the right hand, and receive the ball off the wall with the left hand. Continue passing in this circular pattern as quickly as possible. After a period of time, reverse.
Figure 8 Throws – Stand about 5 feet away from the wall, facing it with legs wider than shoulder width apart. Perform a Figure 8 passing drill between the legs and pass the ball to the wall with the right hand, catch it with both hands, and repeat the Figure 8 in the same direction. After a period of time, reverse directions.
Rapid Fire Sliding - Mark 2 lines on the ground in front of the wall about 5 feet apart. Passers start with their outside foot touching one of the lines. Pass the ball off the wall, slide, and catch it at the other line. The ball needs to be passed at an angle so that it can be caught on the move.
Use a chest pass and take short quick sliding steps without crossing the feet. Keep moving laterally while passing and catching. Change direction each time the foot hits a line. This works on leading the pass, quickness, agility, and using both hands to catch the ball.
Triple Threat Shooting - Start about 15 feet from the wall. Take a couple dribbles toward the wall, jump stop, put the ball in triple threat position, and pass to the wall. Jump forward to catch the pass, jump stop, put the ball in triple threat position, and shoot the ball against the wall.
Put tape markers on the wall or identify lines or spots on the wall for targets. See how many times players can hit the particular target in 30 seconds, using different types of passes.
Basketball passing drills can become boring and monotonous if done too long. I suggest that once the basic skills are taught and practiced a few times in isolation, introduce dynamic drills that are more game-like and combine different fundamental skills together.