The best offensive attacks are free-flowing, more closely resembling a great jazz performance than a scripted symphony. But, what if your players tend to fall into predictable patterns? What if your players don’t have enough experience (yet) to know how to adjust effectively to the defense? What if your players just need a jump start?

molecule drawn on blackboard

Well, that’s when you can introduce some very basic passing patterns. Below are three easy to implement passing patterns that will make your team appear like they know what they’re doing when they come up against a traditional man-to-man defense, a traditional zone defense, and even a pack-line defense.

You could even introduce color codes to make transitioning between them even easier.

Against player-to-player… especially when your offense focuses on off-the-ball screening.

RULE: Corners pass fast. Wings pass medium. Top pass slow.

WHY: Corner and Wing players are going to be using and setting the screens. When the ball is Up-Top, it can see the screening actions on the entire half-court. In this position there’s no ball-side or weak-side. In addition, if nothing is open, holding the ball Up-Top gives the team a chance to clear and “space” and get ready again.

Against zones…

RULE: Corners pass slow. Wings pass medium. Top pass fast. (This is the opposite to the first pattern.)

WHY: Against zones, your team should swing the ball fast from one side of the floor to the other. But when the ball slows down at the wing or corner, it gives your cutters, flashers and pin screeners time to do their work.

Obviously, if you are facing a corner trapping zone, make the appropriate adjustments to this pattern. Holding the ball in the corner probably won’t be effective in that situation.

Against pack-line player-to-player…

RULE: Have a Pass-Pass-Hold rule (PPH) in contrast to Pass-Hold-Pass-Hold, etc rule.

WHY: The pack-line allows the ball to be freely passed around the perimeter; therefore, a Pass-Pass-Hold rule requires defenders to change their positions twice in quick succession. As an example, if you are guarding the ball and a PPH occurs, you’ve gone from guarding the ball to being two passes away almost immediately – being one-pass-away occurred so fast that you didn’t have time to adjust properly.

Pass-Pass-Hold makes the defense jump two defensive positions at a time. This creates Close-Outs, which are difficult defensive actions; thus, Close-Outs are scoring opportunities. PPH also reveals gaps into which the ball can be driven or passed. Even against good defensive teams, position breakdowns will often occur after two or three PPH’s in a row.

And, of course, you can attack all of the above defenses (and any others you come across) with a single offense. It might be time to consider the Read & React Offense.

2 Responses

  1. I believe this “passing pattern”, or tempo, or cadence (whatever) is a key element to the offense. Understanding this can really unlock the offense and solve many problems. It probably isn’t discussed/stressed enough.

    Great Post. – CS

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