June 14

A simple and effective passing series

It seems that of the players I know, (some pros, no pro-masters except Evan Stachelek is starting to be seen more often) the more experience they have, their five bar series becomes increasingly elaborate.My question to the group is, is it possible to get really good results using only 2 passes 90% or more of the time? Such as a brush up/brush down series. Of course this takes into account that there can be all kinds of different hovers, fakes and timing in the pass.

Right now I know how to do about five kinds of pass and that seems like plenty to me, but people are always trying to teach me more.

1) Brush down (fast and hard)
2) Brush up (fast and hard, but not quite as hard as 1))
3) Tic-tac quick wall pass (not very consistent)
4) Tic-tac bump off the wall (off 2 man) and brush up
5) Tic-tac bump off the wall and brush down (VERY effective when defender has been schooled by number 4)Do any of the pro-masters use mainly 1 and 2 for instance? Do most of them? I kind of had the impression from watching a tape that Jeep Perrie primarily used brush up and down on a far wall series, without many fancy fakes and tricks except the one of passing the stopped ball. Is this true?

— Steve Shiue,
Average Bar Player
San Diego, CA


Two passes are fine, as long as you can do them so that there is no way to tell which one you’re going to do. In fact, one of the best passers in NC basically only does two passes: with the ball set stopped beside the 2nd man, he does a straight wall pass or a straight lane pass, and is very effective.

It’s an interesting passing series in that since there is NO movement of the man or ball before he does the lane or wall pass, there’s NOTHING to be able to read to get and idea of where he’s going to pass (unless you can somehow pick up on his body language or something). Therefore, your defense is reduced to baiting/guessing (he’s too fast to race). Also, since the pass is done from a stopped position, he can do it at ANY time during the 10 second 5 bar time limit, and so you don’t know WHEN the pass will happen (whereas hover/brush passers generally have to pass it in the 1 or 2 seconds that the ball is rolling to a stop, letting you know at least about when (if not where) they’re going to pass it).

It does have a small disadvantage in that since there’s no ball/man movement before the pass, there’s also no opportunity to create a passing hole by doing a good pass fake (like the fake mentioned in #5 above); but he does throw in a bump off the wall, or double wall pass, or 2-1-2 to the middle man on the 3 bar, once in a while to effectively mix things up and keep you off balance. He also will sometimes move the ball like he’s passing it but just let it bounce back to his 2nd man off the first man (or wall) just to see how your defense will react. It’s essentially the passing equivalent of a rollover shot – simple, relatively easy to learn/execute (and mostly pressure proof), very effective, and limited in ability to “create” holes.

Of course, the KEY to effective passing, even for the above described series, is the same as the key to effective shooting. Good shooters don’t just blindly do a shot and hope the hole is there, they analyze the defense to read WHERE and WHEN the hole will be and shoot there (which is what brings their shooting percentage up from what random luck would be). Similarly, on the 5 bar, you need to analyze/read their defense and pass where/when the hole is. Of course, this is much easier said than done, but if you can get to where you can do it, 2 passes should be plenty.

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