The first time I played in a professional basketball game in Greece I was shocked by the speed. I was not shocked by the speed of the players running up and down the court or by the quickness of the guards, but I was shocked by the speed of the ball.
Nothing in my basketball training had prepared me to for the speed of the ball movement. The passes were moving so fast, the ball was being delivered to players who were open quickly. It took me the whole game to begin to adjust mentally and it took weeks of honing my passing skills to be able to keep up.
The biggest difference between youth basketball, high school, college and professional basketball is the speed of the passing. Of course the players are faster and more physical, but their years of basketball training create a level of ball movement that is beautiful to watch and daunting to attempt for an untrained passer. Therefore I want to share a key passing drill that if done every day will prepare you to deliver passes accurately, with speed, and against a tough defender.
But first you need to know the old-fashioned chest pass doesn’t work at high levels of play. The chest pass is useless when you are closely guarded. When you have a pesky defender playing you tight, there is no way to deliver a chest pass to a teammate that is open for a split second. Why not? The chest pass has has to be thrown from a single delivery point–the chest–and therefore a good defender can take away passing angles from that delivery point, especially angles to dangerous ares on the court–like the rim or the middle of the court.
Instead of the chest pass I want to introduce you to the pass that allowed me to become a real playmaker. The pass is a favorite of Steve Nash and Chris Paul. It will make post-entry passes so much easier; it will make wing-entries a piece of cake; and it will allow you to deliver passes to cutters with deadly timing. The pass is called the Bent-Elbow Pass. We teach it at PGC Basketball in honor of Dick DeVenzio, PGC’s founder, who created and named this pass.
THINK THE GAME
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The ball is held not in front of the chest, and not over your head and not in triple-threat. The ball is held just in front of your shoulder, with your hand behind the ball, and your elbow directly under the ball and tight to your body, bent and ready to drive the ball with a piston-like motion like the piston in a car engine.
The beauty of this pass is that, if you keep your elbow bent, you can deliver the ball with power from several delivery points: You can snap the ball high over the defenders head, punch it shoulder height past the defender’s ear, crack the ball low in a bounce pass by the defender’s hip pocket or wrap it wide around their outstretched hand. There is no way a defender can close down all these angles at once, and so a bent-elbow pass is one that is a “must have” and a pass that needs to be trained by any player that is serious about delivering the ball with accuracy and power. This pass must be practiced with both hands and all from angles in order to gain violent speed and pin-point accuracy.
Bent-Elbow Passing Drill: This drill should be done while standing in a low-wide stance, twisting the core with each pass and using an explosive out-breath to generate power. Stand about ten feet from a wall, and aim at a target no larger than a dime at about shoulder height on the wall.
You’ll do the following passes ten times with each hand:
- High Hook-Passes over imaginary defender’s head.
- Ear Punch-Passes strait from shoulder by defender’s ear.
- Pocket-Pass down by defender’s hip pocket.
- Reach-Around snap the arm straight out wide around a defender’s outstretched hand.
- Eye-fake passes where you create an opening by looking at one passing window and then pass through another.
This basketball passing skill is one that will pay off with more assists and less turnovers in REAL GAMES. Train it, own it and change your game.
Learn to play offense the same way you breathe. Join PGC Director of Player Development Tyler Coston as he teaches the alternating current philosophy on offense, which will allow your team to get better shots and keep the defense scrambling.
Mediocre passers attempt to pass around and over defenders. Great passers pass through defenders. To pass through defenders, you must subconsciously know which windows are open. To do this, you must learn to be patient. Keep your elbow bent and the ball next your body. Open passing windows with your eyes and your height.
When asked about what he learned in the NBA, Devin Booker said the number one thing he learned was he does not have to play fast. The NBA game is all about holding something back and knowing when to use those one or two steps. That’s control.
PGC Basketball provides intense, no-nonsense basketball training for players and coaches. Our basketball camps are designed to teach players of all positions to play smart basketball, be coaches on the court, and be leaders in practices, games and in everyday life.
We combine our unique PGC culture with a variety of teaching methods and learning environments to maximize the learning potential of those that attend our sessions. In addition to spending 6-7 hours on the court each day, lessons will be reinforced through classroom sessions and video analysis.
Our goal at PGC is to empower you with the tools to fulfill your basketball dreams, while also assisting you in experiencing the joy of the journey.