In basketball, if the team as a whole do not have the practical skills needed to be great players, they will all struggle to win any games. Perhaps one of the most important, yet simple, skills that must be mastered is effective passing. Being able to properly pass may be overlooked by some coaches, but if the team cannot connect in this area, it is likely they will fail in most games.

If your team is struggling with passing, you will notice the lack of skill in the number of turnovers that are occurring during practice or games. It is definitely not something hidden that you may never discover. If you notice the turnover rate is higher than it should be, it is time to start improving the entire team’s ability to pass correctly. This will likely increase their game scores and allow them to better when on offense.

In order to get your players better at passing, there are some important factors to consider. Effective passing doesn’t happen overnight, and you should ensure that the proper elements are being put into play each time there is passing involved in game play. Below are the four important components that will make passing easier for your whole team.

1. Every player must be focused.
Passing will only work if you are able to deliver the ball to your intended recipient. Many players accumulate turnovers when they are not able to complete the task of handing off the ball to the right teammate. Passing correctly involves more than blindly throwing the basketball in the direction of a teammate. You must focus on your target, ensuring that when the ball leaves your hands, it will move to the hands of the right player.

If you do not take that two seconds of concentration during a game, you might as well just personally hand the ball to someone on the opposing team – as that’s what is likely to happen anyway. Practicing focus when passing during practice will help you decrease the chances of a turnover and lead to better game play.

2. Good catching skills are a must for passing.
Even if the passing player is focused and tosses the ball straight to another teammate, if the recipient isn’t ready or particularly good at catching, the pass is pointless. It is not a rare occurrence that a player tries to pass the ball and it gets dropped, resulting in a turnover. This can be frustrating for the recipient and the passer, but also the rest of the team and the coach.

Possibly one of the greatest attributes to missing the ball is that the player is not focused on catching it. They are, instead, thinking of what they are going to do with the ball once it is in their hands. Are they going to shoot from where they are, or will they dribble in toward the basket before shooting? This forward thinking is helpful, but it can also be distracting. Another issue can be that the player is so nervous that they fumble and make mistakes, even during something easy like catching a ball.

If poor catching seems to be the issue behind your team’s passing inabilities, it is best that you acknowledge the problem and improve on it. Tossing your hands up and being ready to catch will inform your teammates that you are wanting the ball. Giving your teammate a target means the ball is likely to come right to you. This will also get you ready to catch it, lessen the chances of a miss. The coach can create a rule that his players aren’t allowed to pass unless the recipient is in a “ready to catch” stance.

Once the ball is in the air and coming toward you, plan to catch it with two hands. Many fumbles are made when the player tries to grab with one hand and make a run toward the hoop. This can be easily remedied if you plan ahead – having bother hands ready to grasp the ball so you have complete control of it.

Eliminating nervousness can come when we cool down and allow our minds to think about one thing at a time. Don’t be concerned about what to do next when you haven’t gotten the ball in your possession yet. Instead, focus on catching and then you can decide what to do.

3. Position awareness is crucial to passing.
All players need to be aware of themselves and the ball when they are on offense – whether they are the one in control of the basketball or not. You need to always been moving when the ball is in play, ensuring that you are trying to get open to help you teammate with the ball. Coaches must implement offensive strategies so that the ball carrier isn’t abandoned during play. Systems make it easier to communicate on the court, so that passing can be done effectively.

4. Always be prepared.
Never run offense with your back to the player with the ball. You must be ready to receive a pass at all times, so you need to keep eye contact on your teammate. If not, it’s likely your opponent will be watching and a turnover will occur. Too often a player is ready to pass but his teammate is turned away so he cannot. Avoid this problem by always having your eye on the ball, even if you cannot see the player dribbling it.

It is really no surprise how vital good passing skills are in the game of basketball. The best teams in the league carry effective passing abilities that allow them to excel on offense. By being focused, being able to catch, positioning yourself appropriately, and always being prepared, your team has a greater chance of scoring more points and getting the win on the court.