Different Types of Basketball Passes


If you landed on this page, you’re probably interested in figuring out what the different types of basketball passes are.


As we all know, the most important part of basketball is scoring more than the other team. In order to score, a team needs skilled shooters who can make layups, jump shots, and three-pointers.


But the actual shot is only part of the equation when it comes to getting the ball to the net.


Players must be able to dribble and pass effectively as well. Today we will be focusing on one of the most important but overlooked parts of the game of basketball – passing.


Passing is one of the fundamental skills required to play basketball, and young players must practice passing just as much as they would dribbling or shooting.


Without the ability to properly pass a basketball, a player cannot truly become part of a successful team.


Passing the ball is a critical skill every player needs to develop especially when it comes to providing an assist.


There are 4 basic different types of basketball passes, and a few more complex moves that more advanced players can attempt. Let’s take a look at the 4 basics first.


1. Bounce Pass


The bounce pass is as simple as it sounds. The player with the ball bounces the ball on the floor in the direction of the intended recipient.


It can be done with one or both hands, and it is one of the slower passes that a player usually has in his or her arsenal.


How to perform a bounce pass


  • Find the teammate to whom you intend to pass the ball.


  • Try to eyeball a spot about 2/3 of the distance between yourself and your teammate.


  • Starting at your waist, push the ball outward towards the 2/3 spot with one or both hands.


  • Follow through with your hands remaining waist-high.


  • Try to put enough force for the bounce to end up at the other player’s waist.


When to use a bounce pass


  • When being closely defended by a defender.


  • When passing to a teammate under the post.


  • For short quick passes – do not use for long passes across the court.


2. Overhead Pass


The overhead pass is another basic pass that is often used to get ball inbound from the sidelines or to pass over defenders.


How to perform an overhead pass


  • Bring the ball over your head with your elbows pointed towards your intended teammate


  • Aim the ball towards your teammate’s forehead.


  • Extend your elbows and bring your hands straight forward, releasing the ball as your arms flatten.


  • Be sure to follow through at the end of the pass


When to use an overhead pass


  • When inbounding the ball after a basket, violation, or penalty.


  • When passing over a shorter defender that is guarding you closely.


  • For long passes across the court.


Chest Pass


The chest pass is one of the most useful and powerful passes in basketball. It can be used in a variety of situations and should be practiced regularly.


How to perform a Chest Pass


  • Hold the ball with both hands at chest height.


  • Find your intended receiver and line up the ball to aim at his or her chest.


  • Push straight forward with your arms, releasing the ball as you reach full extension.


  • Keep your elbows tucked close to your body to maintain control over the pass.


  • Follow through with your hands after releasing.


When to use a Chest Pass  


  • When passing to an open teammate with no defenders in the way.


  • When power is needed for long passes, such as those that require the entire length of the court.


One-hand Push Pass


This is a more advanced pass and should be practiced after a player has perfected the bounce pass and chest pass.


How to perform a One-hand Push Pass


  • Step around the defender or obstacle in your way.


  • If passing to your right, use your right hand. If passing to your left, use your left hand.


  • Aim for a point about 2/3 of the distance between you and the receiver.


  • Try to bounce with enough force to reach your teammate’s waist.


  • This is most effective when combined with your dribbling motion.


When to use a One-Hand Push Pass


  • When passing through a defender who is guarding you closely.


  • When quickly trying to get the ball to an open teammate without stopping your motion.


Advanced Passes


There are also some more advanced passes that look impressive and can be used to fake out your opponents or to gain the upper hand.


These are difficult to learn even without defenders and become even more of a challenge in real-time gameplay.


It is important to learn the basic passes before even attempting to use these more advanced methods.


Baseball Pass


This is a difficult pass that uses one hand, so it should be taught only after a player has mastered the first three passes.


How to perform a Baseball Pass


  • Start with your side towards the intended recipient.


  • Put your weight on your back foot.


  • Bring the ball back with both hands, as if winding up to pitch a baseball.


  • Using your dominant hand, throw the ball towards the recipient, again as if you are throwing a baseball.


  • Be sure to spread your hand out as widely as possible to maintain control of the ball.


When to use a Baseball Pass


  • For long passes down the court.


  • When additional power is needed, and your teammate is open.


Dribble Pass


Similar to the one-hand push pass, you perform this pass as you are dribbling.


How to Perform a Dribble Pass


  • Continue with your dribbling motion down the court


  • Find the teammate to whom you wish to pass


  • As you approach your teammate, pretend that you are going to continue dribbling


  • Instead of bouncing the ball to yourself again, use one fluid motion to pass the ball to your teammate either in the air or with a bounce


When to use a Dribble Pass


  • When quickly moving downcourt and towards the basket with another shooter


  • When being guarded closely be a defender whose arms you can dribble under


Pick and Roll Pass


This is one of the most advanced passes and is used to get the ball to another teammate when you are being heavily defended.


How to perform a Pick and Roll Pass


  • Line your target up on the opposite side than where you are dribbling.


  • Bring the ball up on the side to which you are dribbling while fading away from the defender.


  • Use a hook shot motion to get the ball to your teammate.


When to perform a Pick and Roll Pass


  • When being double-teamed.


  • When the defense puts a switch on you.


  • When you have an open teammate on the other side of the court.


Behind the Back Pass


The behind-the-back pass is a flashy move that should only be used when absolutely necessary.


You must be aware of your surroundings and should be sure that you have practiced this one over and over before using it in an actual game.


How to perform a Behind the Back Pass


  • Dribble the ball as you would during normal gameplay.


  • Find your intended recipient and line him up with the opposite shoulder of the hand with which you are dribbling.


  • While either continuing to dribble or bringing the ball up with both hands, bring your dominant hand behind your back and bounce the ball towards your target.


  • Make sure there are no defenders behind you who could snatch the ball out of your hand.


When to perform a Behind the Back Pass


  • When attempting to avoid a defender who has full coverage in front of you.


  • When passing to an open teammate who is trailing behind you.


  • When you want to fake out the defenders and make them think you are passing to a different player.


Tips on Catching Passes Intended for You


Now that you know how to perform a pass, you must also learn how to catch passes that are coming for you.


If you can’t catch a pass properly, you will turn the ball over and give the other team a scoring opportunity.


How to Catch a Pass


  • Extend your arms out with soft elbows remaining slightly bent (do not lock your arms).


  • Square your body up with the passer.


  • Keep your eye on the ball as it comes toward you.


  • As the ball reaches your hands, bring them in towards your body with the ball.


  • Do not try to “clap” the ball together in your hands. This is a dangerous move in that it can lead to the ball flying out of your hands and hitting you right in the face.


  • Keep your hands behind the ball, not on the sides.


Practice Makes Perfect


While you may want to show off your passing skills in a real live game, you must first learn the fundamentals. Be sure to practice every day, either with a partner or against a wall.


Learn the more basic moves first, and once you have mastered those you can move on to the more advanced passes.


Try to keep a consistent schedule of practicing every day. As you continue to practice, you will notice that you feel more comfortable performing every type of pass in real games.


  1. Hi James

    I agree that passing is a critical skill that should not be overlooked. Perhaps, too many young players ovelook practicing passing in favor of dribbling and shooting.

    This is a great article for young players to read, learn and practice their passing. You provide great instruction on how to execute a successful pass and also how to catch a pass directed to you.

    • Hi Les,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, passing is definitely overlooked skill and it can make a serious difference in the outcome of a game.


  2. Bernard Breytenbach

    Great post! If you want to be a standout player you have to try your best to be well-rounded. I wasn’t even aware of some of the passes you mentioned in this post. 

    Most of the top players in the league have a lot of skills in their arsenal which are necessary during clutch moments. I’ll bet most people wouldn’t think of how important it is to develop this skill.

    Thank you for outlining the different kinds of passes in basketball.

    • Hi Bernard,

      Thanks for your comment, yeah I know that the majority gets a little preoccupied with developing other skills but passing is just as important as the others.


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