The Value of the Basketball Bounce Pass

  • January 6, 2015
  • / By Tom

basketball bounce passPhoto By: Nick Hubbard

The basketball bounce pass is one of the most fundamentally solid, yet under-appreciated plays in the sports. Whether making a post entry pass or zipping up court on a fast break, the bounce pass is one of the most effective and valuable ways to move the basketball.

Below are four reasons that using the bounce pass is so important to basketball passing, as well as how and when to use it.

  • Less effort – Not to get too scientific or anything, but a bounce pass can take less physical effort on certain passes than a chest or  overhead pass. Why? You can use gravity and the bounce off the court to get the ball to a teammate. This can make reasonably long throws easier and more precise. For full-court passes, this isn’t the case though. A one-handed overhead pass would be more likely to make it to your teammate than a bounce pass.
  • More accurate – Particularly when thrown from moderate distances, bounce passes can be more accurate. There is more margin for error on a chest pass thrown on a backdoor court, for example. A well-placed backdoor pass  is one of the most fundamentally satisfying plays to watch in basketball.
  • Harder to defend – In most cases, it is really hard to deflect or steal an accurate bounce pass. Because of the angle of the pass, defenders can’t really get a hand on the ball without putting themselves out of position. They can gamble trying to knock it away or to get their hands on it, but most times they’ll miss it and leave their man uncovered.
  • Can be thrown from different angles – Bounce passes are actually a very versatile offensive weapon. This is because they can be thrown with both hands or just one and are easier to get around tight defensive coverage. If a defender is in your face, it’s going to be tough to get off a clean chest or overhead pass, even if you use fancy footwork to get around the defender. You can still get around tight defense with a bounce pass though, because you can easily reach around on either side for a quality one-handed pass.

How to Use It

The video below demonstrates how to throw a proper bounce pass. You’ll want to have a fundamentally sound pass, which includes stepping into it, hitting a spot on the floor about 3/4ths of the distance to your teammate, and snapping your thumbs down for a hard pass. Advanced passing can be done with one or two hands. It can also be done from different angles, such as from the side to get around the defense. You’ll want to be accurate and hit your teammate exactly where they are asking for the ball.

When to Use It

The video below demonstrates when to actually use a bounce pass. The simple answer is pretty much anytime. One notable exception is the point guard making a wing entry pass. This can be an easy spot for the defender to deflect or even steal the basketball, which would give them a clear route to two points. The best times to use it are:

  • Fast breaks
  • Post entry

A bounce pass can be particularly tough to defend on the fast break. The defender will most likely be sprinting to defend the hoop or backpedaling to stay in front of the ball. The defender won’t be able to quickly change direction to knock away the ball, and the offense will have the basketball in a good position for an easy score.

Post defense usually has an arm up to prevent passes straight to the numbers. If the big man has his defender sealed, they’ll be able to get a low pass and be in position to score. The defense won’t be able to get around and low enough to make a play on the basketball.  A chest pass in this situation could easily be knocked away.

An accurate bounce pass is one of the best ways for a player to move the basketball. It is a fundamental that is often overlooked by young players today, but it should be a point of emphasis for any quality program.

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