As the old saying goes, “basketball is basketball.” True, but there are some differences in teaching the game between men and women. The main difference is due to body structure, because in general women players do not use their hips as much as men for power and mobility. Although this disparity can be eliminated with strength training (e.g., see Train for Success With Skyline High School’s Girls Varsity Basketball Weightlifting Program), it makes women’s basketball passing drills an absolute must in any skill development plan, especially for younger players.
Through my experience of coaching women’s basketball, I have learned to make this an emphasis. During my training, I constantly give cues like “drop your hips” and “pass through your hips”—reminders of where true power comes from. And it’s not just about power; it’s about balance as well. It has been said that 65 percent or more of all turnovers come from imbalance, and I have found this to be very true. So I started focusing on the places leading up to a shot where balance is critical: stopping a drive to pass to an open shooter; and passing up the court with ball reversal.
Stopping a drive to pass
I constantly remind my female players to get their feet under their hips and to load their hips. This gives them the stability and balance they need. From there, they can use their hips to drive power through the ball to make their passes on time and on target. In both the men’s and women’s game, on time and on target are huge points to drive home. We want to give our shooters as much time and space as possible to attack the closeout created by the pass.
Passing up the court with ball reversal
The reason for this focus is obvious: such passes lead to scores. There are three types of ball reversal: the skip or overhead pass, the swing pass (from a wing to the top of the key to the other wing), and the drive and kick (driving the lane and dishing the ball out to an open teammate). Any time I can find ways to incorporate these into a drill, I do so. I want players to develop good habits in the actions that will make us successful—which is a coaching basic for both men’s and women’s basketball.
Below are some drills I use in the Spartan Basketball program in San Antonio to build the passing skills outlined in this article: