Pass, Cut, & Fill: Offensive Fundamentals

This entry is part 9 of 10 in the series Passing Actions

The offensive fundamentals in the Pass, Cut, & Fill layer are extensive. There are Passing fundamentals, Cutting fundamentals, and Filling Fundamentals. We’ll look at each subcategory.

Passing Fundamentals

  • Passing with the correct hand
    One of the more underrated fundamentals of the game is passing with the proper hand.  Some turnovers are a result of players not being able to pass with their non-dominant hand. The ability to pass with both hands makes the passer harder to defend.  Whether these are push passes, bounce passes, or lob passes, the ability to make all three of these passes with both hands is extremely valuable.
  • Fakes
    Fakes can be made with the ball or with different body parts. However, they are extremely useful in getting the defense out of position for a split second to create a passing lane. Fakes can be used to get the on ball defender out of position, but they can also force the off ball defender to commit briefly to one player and create an opening for another one.
  • Push pass
    It’s the simplest pass in the game yet many players throw this pass from their ear as opposed to their torso.  How many players actually push the ball through a passing window as opposed to throwing it and hoping it gets where it needs to go?
  • Overhead pass
    This pass is critical to being able to make an effective skip pass.  Many younger players struggle with this pass. It must be taught and practiced in order for players to be able to make this pass crisply and on target.
  • Footwork
    Stepping into a pass will provide an extra crispness and better accuracy. Yet many players pass the ball standing up and without stepping into it. Passing from a low position will prove much more effective in pressure situations.
  • Bounce Pass
    In some situations this may be the only pass that will get to a cutter. Sometimes this pass may need to be made with one hand. It is a slower pass which means players have to learn to anticipate and throw this pass earlier in order to fight it into a tight window.
  • Lob Pass
    The lob pass must be thrown differently from other passes. It must be thrown with touch over the defender and into the cutter’s hands.  This is a very useful pass in hitting a cutter late in a cut.
  • Meeting the pass
    Players must assume that the pass isn’t going to make it to them.  They must go to the ball.  They must meet the pass. This reduces the chance that a defender can step in the passing lane and deflect or intercept the pass.  This may draw an offensive player “off their spot.”  However, it’s more important that the pass be caught than a play be on their spot.
  • Catching the pass
    Going after the ball with two hands is a more safe and secure way of making sure players retain possession of the ball.  While players may have to make one handed catches, it’s always better to secure it with two hands when possible.
  • Providing a target
    When a receiver shows a passer a target, it gives the passer confidence that the receiver is ready to catch any pass that comes to them.  A receiver without a target should not be thrown the ball.  A receiver with a target gives the passer something to throw to and is ready to do something with the ball on the catch.
  • Recognizing the open cutter
    The first passer becomes the cutter and the first option as the next receiver. The second passer must be able to recognize if the cutter is open.  Many times the passer must anticipate that the cutter will be open before they actually are.  Sometimes the passer must be patient and give cutter time to get open in order to get the cutter the ball.  

Cutting & Filling Fundamentals

  • Take what the defense gives
    Many defenses are going to try to take away cuts in certain ways.  Sometimes they will jump to the ball and prevent any face cuts.  Sometimes they will jam a cutter. Whatever choice the defense makes, they are choosing to give up something else. They can’t take away everything. The offensive player must learn to how to take advantage of what the defense gives up.
  • Work for face cuts
    Cutters should try to get face cuts as much as possible.  This gives them the best chance to receive the ball on their cut. Coaches can choose to teach players to set up their cuts or to make speed cuts and try to beat the defense to the spot. Either method can be effective.  However, face cuts provide the best way for beating defenses.  They also provide the opportunity for the offensive player to post up their defender.
  • See the ball through out the cut
    Many players give up on the cut too early.  They think if they don’t receive the pass immediately, that they could never be open. Defenders may work hard to take away the initial pass, but then relax later in the cut. Cutters who see the ball through out the cut may be an option late in the cut.  More importantly, they are ready to react to other actions if they always see the ball.
  • Sprint the cut
    Every cut must be a sprint.  Jogging through the cut kills the rhythm and timing of the offensive movement. Jogging through a cut clogs up the lane.  It also makes teams easier to guard.
  • Cut to the rim
    Cutters must cut to the rim.  They must not shorten their cut or change the direction of their cut.  They should sprint on a straight line to the rim.
  • Filling out
    If the cutter choose to fill out, they should do so as quickly as possible. This helps other cutters decide where to go when they finish their cut. It also helps clarify roles on baseline drives.  
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