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“The Art of the Outlet Pass”

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on September 22, 2006

artpoplloyd.jpgYou and your team want to score, and you want to score as easily as possible as often as possible. The best way to do that? Fast break basketball. Once your team has established the mentality to run, the next step is to change — transition — from defense to offense as quickly as you can. Can your team change more players from defense to offense than the opposing team from offense to defense? That’s the tussle. It all begins with the outlet pass. The rebounder should rebound with both hands or at least have two hands on it before he hits the floor. While still in the air, before hitting the floor, the rebounder should be turning his or her head, to the outside of the court, toward the sideline, where, hopefully, the point guard is yelling “outlet”. The passing arm elbow should be out and back and the ball gripped tightly in front of the armpit. At the moment of impact between feet and floor, there should be a strong step in the direction the pass is to be made and the pass should fire out. I’m thinking Russell; I’m thinking Embry; I’m thinking Cowens, and Bill Walton, too. They often made that same pass, with similar technique, but before even landing! You can, too!

3 Responses to ““The Art of the Outlet Pass””

  1. Amando Koenders said

    Hey Steve,

    What is the best position for the Point Guard to receive the outlet pass from a defensive rebounder?
    I see a lot of guards ask for the outlet close to the basket. But in my opinion it would be better to be around the 3-point line to receive the pass. Either on the side or more in the middle depending on the defense.. Am I correct?



  2. Amando – –

    Typically, the point guard peels out to the sideline to get the outlet pass. The reason? Defense tends to retreat to the hoop they’re guarding by herding down the middle of the floor – the most direct route to their defended goal. By the point guard going out to the sideline, he/she gets out of the flow of traffic, thereby becoming more available for the pass that initiates the transition from defense to offense. That being said, it’s certainly possible, and sometimes preferable, to call for and catch an outlet pass in the middle of the floor (it might get things going quicker) but the pass there needs to be short and the point guard should not (actually under all circumstances and anywhere on the floor) be drifting away from the passer but instead stepping toward the pass (at least slightly) to take away the angle from any defender who might want to step in to make a steal. See Bird steals the ball and watch poor Bill Laimbeer (the point guard in this instance, “poor Isiah Thomas” was the passer) not step to the pass. Lastly, and this is true of all things regarding offensive basketball, you take what the defense gives you. So, if the defense isn’t getting back at all and the point guard can slip past ALL of the defense for a “touchdown pass” (American football reference there Amando), that’s absolutely where the point guard should go. Still, sideline is the spot most often taught as the place to go.


  3. Amando said

    How come I never thanked you? 😉 Great video too!


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