Developing Better Game Passers

For drills to be effective, they must transfer to better game performance. Many coaches spend a lot of practice time on drills like three-man weaves or two-line passing drills, yet continue to complain about their players’ passing skills. The problem is the constraints: the constraints of a three-man weave differ from the constraints of completing a pass in a game.

In a three-man weave, the primary constraints are coordination and speed, as the passer must receive the ball on the run and pass without traveling. In a game, the primary constraints are the defense: most passes are contested either on the passer, the receiver or both the passer and receiver.

Here are two drills that I use at the beginning of my passing instruction:

Long Island Passing Drill

The drill is a beginning passing drill. It essentially replaces a stationary 2-man passing drill or a three-man weave. The two teams do not defend each other – they are obstacles. I stress knowing where the next open player is before one catches the pass and passing quickly. After the pass, players cut and find open spaces.

7v5 Advantage Passing Drill

The advantage passing drills take the passing to the next level as the drill incorporates defense. However, with 2 players playing all-time offense (red), the offense always has an advantage. Passers simply need to find the open player and keep the ball moving. Again, I stress making the pass quickly (no return passes) and cutting after the pass.

By Brian McCormick
Brian McCormick Basketball
Author, Cross Over: The New Model of Youth Basketball Development
Director of Coaching, Playmakers Basketball Development League

6 thoughts on “Developing Better Game Passers

  • I thought they were in Volume of the newsletters on, but they must be from Volume 4. Therefore, they’d be in Brian McCormick’s Hard2Guard Player Development Newsletters, Volume 4:

    I do LI Passing for time as a warm-up. I play 7v5 until one team completes 60 passes. Scoring is cumulative. Black v white w/2 red offensive players. Use the half-court. On a turnover, play continues like a game. No dribbling.

    Let me know if there are any other questions.

  • Hi Brian,
    I tried the Long Island Passing Drill last night for the first time with my 7 – 11 year olds. Who are all very new to the game and really do have trust issues (especially the more experienced players) in passing to each other. We only did it for a 5 mins, but one thing I noticed instantly with this drill and something they had never done before is start calling for the ball and there was a lot of chatter! brilliant! I kept the space to play in smaller within the 3 point line and then even smaller (inside the paint) 10 players (not much room to move) which made for very short sharp passing and hand off’s (although not a great deal of movement due to space restraints). Will keep you updated on this as it progresses. But any other drills like this one gratefully recieved :o) cheers Jon

  • I like these drills. I think in 7v5 I’d give extra points for teams who make side top side passes or inside out passes

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