by: James Druman

Utililize these basketball passing basics to add your roundball skillset.

Perhaps the most underestimated basketball skill, especially in young basketball leagues, is knowing how to pass. It is essential to keep the ball moving and to capitalize on teamwork if you want to be a winning player on a winning team, so passing is something every coach and serious player should focus on. Here are some simple tips for improving your passing skills.

1. Keep Your Distance

It is important to keep the right amount of spacing between yourself and receiving players when making your passes. If you pass from too far away, it is possible an opposing player can step in and steal the ball without even having to fight for it.

If you are too close, it is difficult to get the speed and accuracy needed for precision. About twelve to fifteen feet is a good distance for a pass.

2. Don't Aim at the Receiver

It is common for younger players to throw the ball directly at the receiving player, but it is much more effective to anticipate movement and throw the ball so it is "waiting" as the receiver moves forward. This type of anticipation, of course, requires teamwork, and it is something the entire team should work on together.

3. Dribble Into the Defense

If a defending player is closing in on you as you go to make a pass, dribble and move toward them as you pass. While this seems counterintuitive, it is easier for them to watch your body and anticipate your moves from further away. If you dribble towards them, they are forced to react, throwing off their attention.

4. Eliminate Obvious Signals

A lot of players give away their intent to pass by craning their neck to set sight on the receiving player. You need to learn to look everywhere and use your peripheral vision. A proper pass is made with a lot of wrist, which allows for that quick unexpected snap. Do not wind your arms back or step forward to pass either—these are all obvious movements to an attentive player.

5. Don't Pass "Around" Defending Players

Many new players try to overcompensate and throw the ball over the opposing player's head or well around them, but this type of pass is much too weak, making it easy to anticipate or even snatch out of the air. Keep your passes quick and sure, darting the ball underneath an armpit or just over the shoulder, depending on the player's own movements. Use fakes to your advantage to get their limbs where you want them.

6. Keep Moving

Never stand still after making a pass—you should keep on moving even after the ball is gone and snatched up. Always end a good pass by following through as if going for a rebound, simulating a dribble around another player, or faking a shot. This will keep other players confused while at the same time allowing you to be ready for whatever happens next and remain an asset to the game.

Don't take passing skills for granted. They are an essential part of any solid game, and proper basketball training will give them their due.