Maybe it was engrained in you that the “right way” to pass the basketball is via a two-hand chest or bounce pass with the thumbs down and pinkies up. Conventional thought isn’t always wrong, and something new isn’t always right nor does it automatically equate to better. However, it’s important that we’re always studying, evaluating, and challenging our way of doing things. I was watching games over the weekend and kept noticing the variation of passes thrown in high school, college, and pro level games. A fundamental pass isn’t necessarily one that is thrown with two hands on the ball (although it can be)- a fundamental pass is a pass delivered on time and on target to the receiver. I care much less about how the ball gets to the receiver than I do about when and where the ball is received. I strongly believe that starting at the youth level, we should be exposing players and encouraging them to pass with one and two hands on the basketball at a variety of different angles. We should be working to enhance possibilities as opposed to creating restrictions. When they make the wrong decision, we focus on what may have been a better option- not eliminating options altogether.
On a similar note, I had a young player in a workout this weekend that threw a perfectly executed behind the back pass to a teammate in stride for a lay-up. He didn’t pre-plan it- it was an instinctual play. I knew it was instinctive because he immediately looked at me like he’d done something wrong- when in reality it was the perfect decision for the situation he was presented with. The defender took a 45 degree angle and got slightly ahead of him on his path to the basket- he delivered the pass to a player trailing about one-two steps behind. Is a behind the back pass always the right play in every situation? Obviously not. However, neither is a jump-stop, two-hand bounce or chest pass. The interactions present in the context of a game lead to decisions. Decisions drive the technical execution of a skill. There is not one “fundamental” way to pass the basketball.
I made a short video of some of the passes that stood out to me over the weekend. I also included some older clips- including one of John Stockton for the “fundamentalists” who may believe he put two hands on the ball every time he passed :).