Basketball Offenses
The Passing Play and a Focus on Fundamentals

Good basketball offenses will help you win games by opening up scoring opportunities for your players. Great offenses will allow you not only to win, but also to provide opportunities for your players to use and further develop their abilities. The Passing Game is a great offense (here's why I think it is one of the best offenses I have used) in that it focuses players on using the most fundamental basketball basics.

There are all kinds of basketball offenses that focus on strengths - i.e., plays that target one or two players or positions that you feel will be more productive for you, and open up possibilities for these players to score. The Passing Game opens up possibilities for everyone on the floor, and since it focuses on utilizing fundamental basketball skills, players learn to become better, smarter players in the process.

I am as guilty as the next coach of over-coaching - laying out set basketball offenses that dictate where players are to go and what they are to do when they get there. Usually, this gets the job done, but it doesn't make players any smarter - it makes them follow orders well.

The reason I like The Passing Game is that it allows the players to make their own decisions, to read the defense and react to the openings the defense provides. If players can run these moves well, they will be able to run any offense thrown at them. And it's really difficult to defend, since there are no predictable set movements for the defense to watch for.

The Passing Game allows players to decide what will work in the situation they are in, to create openings and take advantage of them using basic fundamental movements with and without the ball. To do this, players need to be very well-schooled in basic basketball fundamentals (check out the pages on fundamental offensive movements for review and drills of these basic moves every basketball player needs to know).

It also requires the coach to allow the players more freedom to do as they feel they need to do - for coaches used to calling everything from the bench, this might be a tough change. But in the end you will have players capable of responding to any situation the defense throws at them. This is particularly important for younger players, as it helps them develop faster, before they can develop too many bad habits.

Basketball Offenses
Setting Up the Passing Play

So how do you run The Passing Game?

Basketball Offenses - Passing PlayPassing Play Setup

There really isn't any set play as such, no set sequence of movements. The play can begin with any set up - the most common set up is the 3-2, as shown here, with three perimeter players and two post players.

From this set up, the ball moves from the point guard to the wing, and then players execute whichever offensive movement suits the situation - give and go, pick and roll, screens away from the ball, screens on the ball, flash cuts to open spaces - players read the defense and react to it, moving to open spaces and creating their own openings. Review these potential offensive moves as they can be used in The Passing Game, and practice them continually, so that your players can perform them easily and automatically look for situations in which to use them.

This basketball offense is likely to be more effective against man to man defense, since you can use screens and picks more effectively when the defense is paired up. But it will still work well against zone defenses, as long as you remember to move the ball quickly and work to get the defense out of position.

No offense will solve all your problems or make your team a contender overnight. But a focus on basic fundamentals, and utilizing the passing play to develop and take advantage of these fundamental basketball basics, is a step in the right direction.

"Approach the game with no preset agendas and you'll probably come away surprised at your overall efforts."

- Phil Jackson

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