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How to become a better passer and playmaker

Becoming an effective passer, like an effective basketball shooter, an understanding of spacing and effectively finding open teammates, and developing solid court vision. The great passers, players such as Steve Nash, Ricky Rubio and Lebron James seem to have a sixth sense that gives them the ability to see the play as it develops.  Of course the elite passing skills of these superstars were honed through years of practice and a thorough understanding of the game of basketball.

[Related article: Learn how guards, forwards and centers can improve your offensive and defensive rebounding ]

Here are some tips on becoming an effective passer:

Move the basketball: Effective offensive basketball is all about spacing and ball movement. Strong offensive attacks thrive through keeping the defense off balance by quick ball movement that keeps the defense on their heels. A combination of simple and effective passes that move the ball around the court and keep the defense moving is the most efficient way to create open shots.

Keep your dribble alive: The best point guards are efficient with their dribble.  They don’t over dribble and most importantly don’t pick up their dribble in traffic. The best offensive guards will effectively keep their dribble alive until they can find the open man, making sure not to get trapped at difficult spots on the court.

Become a master dribbler: Effective passing is all about being aware of where the other players on the court are.  If the offensive player is a poor dribbler who can’t go multiple directions or dribbles with his head down he’ll have trouble finding an open teammate. If a young player is effective and competent dribbling the basketball he’ll more effectively find an open teammate.

Keep your head up: It’s impossible to find and open teammate if you have your head down. Fundamentally sound basketball players have mastered their ability to handle the basketball and created consistent spacing on the court.  When an offensive player keeps their head up they are always aware of potential openings and effectively use the pass to hit open teammates.

Practice makes perfect:  The great basketball passers became great through spending endless hours on the basketball court perfecting their game. The great players get great through playing. Becoming a good passer is all about being unselfish on the court and always looking to set up a teammate.

Master various types of passes: Feeding the post is an art form and is different than setting up a teammate on the perimeter through a skip pass or using a lob pass on the fast break. Different situations call for different types of passes, from basic chest passes, to bounce passes, to outlet passes. Good coaches will leverage different drills to perfect different types of passes. As players mature and their ability to see the court improves they’ll master the art of delivering a pass before a teammate breaks open or hitting a player in stride as they cut to the basket.  These skills are developed over time and a player will pick them up as they mature.