Teaching the Pass Fake

The Pass Fake is one of the more effective technical skills in basketball. It is invaluable when facing aggressive opponents or those locked into a zone defence formation. In all of these situations, the Fake is the one tool that can make the difference between players becoming frustrated and making poor choices and opportunities being presented. The Pass Fake however continues to be a skill not widely utilised by many players consistently.


The interesting point of note with regards to teaching any type fake is that it will always be more effective during games than at any other time implemented. This can be an issue for players when they first start to utilise skills like the fake as they will find that is more ineffective then being a useful tool initially. However, as players develop an offensive awareness about how best to use the Pass Fake they will find it to be a very effective tool in their arsenal of skills.

A Pass Fake is fantastic for creating something out of nothing for the offensive player (Photo Source: Jeanette M. Otis)
A Pass Fake is fantastic for creating something out of nothing for the offensive player (Photo Source: Jeanette M. Otis)

The first teaching point for an effective Pass Fake is for players to be in a low stance. This helps with the player being ready to anticipate the reaction of the defender and exploit any advantage. This is simply about players maintaining a low and compact triple threat stance while performing the fake so they are ready and able to attack. It is often a misconception of players that they need to move their feet when performing this fake, but this is not always the case. “Selling” a Pass Fake can happen with the arms alone and not include the lower body.


The arms are the most important part of a Pass Fake. Depending on the situation, a simple roll of the wrists with the ball can be enough to trigger a defensive player into moving out of position, opening another passing or driving lane. The arms though are the most important part of selling a Pass Fake. Players should look to extend the arms not fully when performing a Pass Fake, the arms should always maintain a slight amount of flection so they can quickly be retracted and the dribble, or shot started.


Players should incorporate the habit of looking at the potential target when performing the Pass Fake. Defensive players will often look to the eyes of the passer to determine where the likely movement of the ball will be to. This is nothing unusual, as many people in general conversation have developed this same characteristic as a habit to look where the other person in the conversation is looking as a way of reading body language. These habits can be exploited in defenders to assist the offensive player in increasing the effectiveness of their fake.


As a point of note one of the most effective situations for players (especially on the perimeter of the half court) to employ the Pass Fake is against a Zone Defence. Employing a Pass Fake can be very useful in opening passing lanes into the interior targets or increasing the seals of the zone to the point of exploitation by dribble penetration. Using a Pass Fake at this time will also help players to establish and maintain composure.


Another scenario where a Pass Fake can be effective is during ball reversal around the three-point line. This is especially effective if the tactic is repeated as part of the team’s offense on a regular basis. It is only normal for defensive players to anticipate the movement by the offense in the hope of reducing any advantage gained. A well-executed Pass Fake however can see the defence over-rotating and an opportunity ripe for the taking presented.


The Pass Fake is a fantastic skill to have as part of a player’s game, but time and patience by the player and coaching in its implementation needs to be exercised.

Coach Riches has been working within the sport, business and education industries for many years. During this time he has built an extensive number of formal and informal qualifications. A firm believer in training and development designed to help people reach their full potential, relevant o their needs and functional to their industry environment.

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