Pivot, Pass & Catch – The Foundation of Successful Offence

Posted on Mar 29 2022

During the month of March, Basketball Australia conducted five junior national squad camps across the Under 19 and Under 17 age groups, with some 112 of the most talented young players in the country working on floor over the series of three-day camps. As part of these camps, coaches engaged in coach development and knowledge sharing with a focus improving the areas of pivoting, passing and catching.

With so many talented young players on the floor across the five camps, there was a strong focus on improving elite level skill and principles of play. As the camps unfolded, the attention of the coaching panels often turned to making individuals more efficient at the offensive end and impacting their ability to execute skill against international standard defenders.

A big area of focus was being elite at the basics of pivoting, catching and passing. Seems somewhat simple for such elite emerging young players, but the ability to be efficient in these areas and eliminate mistakes is key in the development of future Opals and Boomers.

Catching is an often under-taught skill, yet the ability to catch under pressure, ready to do the next thing is a huge part of modern offence. Some points discussed in this area by the coaches are –

  • As a receiver it’s your responsibility to improve the pass quality
  • Catch it in the air/catch it “loaded”
  • Be an “active spacer” – hands, constant minor adjustments, be in a window to receive, don’t stand heels down
  • Anticipate being open – be an active and willing receiver
  • “Fumbles kill space” – catch it clean
  • Present “hungry hands”
  • Catch it with intent
  • Outlaw one handed catches
  • “Shot ready hands”, “next ready hands” – assists with shot, pass, drive decision

Linked that of course is passing under international pressure. The key foundations discussed and emphasised across the camps in this area included –

  • The pass is your responsibility until the receiver catches it
  • Pass to the advantage of the receiver – “lead the receiver into the catch”
  • Fake a pass to make a pass
  • Outside hand to outside hand
  • Cutter don’t move till the dribbler comes to a stop – read the defenders head

With dribble penetration such an integral part of the modern game, the ability to make plays at the end of the drive is so important. Traditionally turnovers happen at the start or the end of penetration some key teaching cues on this from the camps were –

  • “Eyes to the rim, eyes to the pass” – drive to score first
  • “The pivot provides vision”
  • Use two pivots at the end of penetration – one to create the “shot window”, the 2nd to create the “pass window”
  • “Early help, early pass”
  • “Chest over knee” on penetration – be strong with the ball
  • Receiver be prepared to move a second time
  • Jump stop, jump stop, jump stop! – use the jump stop to “buy time and space” at the end of the drive

Thanks to our junior national team mentors and COE coaches for sharing their teaching points in these important skill areas.


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