Basketball on the Edge – Build Team Camaraderie With One Simple Action


What should a player do after scoring a basket? If you watch basketball on tv you may not be sure. Do you stare down your opponent? Thump your chest? Stir the pot? In my mind as a youth basketball coach there is really only one response that I look for in my players…point to the passer!

Forget all that other stuff, leave the showboating and preening to the pros, point to the teammate that passed you the ball to recognize their contribution to your success. If you and your team are focused on playing winning basketball you’ll adopt the ritual of acknowledging the passer and drop everything else. Great players understand that by sharing the glory with a teammate they are contributing to a culture of teamwork and unselfishness. It’s a simple act that takes less than a second, but pays dividends for a long time after that second is gone. Have you ever made a nice pass to a teammate who DIDN’T acknowledge the pass? It makes you mad, makes you think your teammate is selfish, your energy level drops just slightly. Over the course of a game or a season, those little blips can mean the difference between winning and losing.

Do you know where the concept of acknowledging the passer came from?

Here’s the answer from an article in the Washington Post.

“Former North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith started the tradition known as “thank the passer” or “point to the passer,” in which scorers publicly point to the guy who threw them the ball to give them credit.
In The Carolina Way, Smith writes that he and UCLA’s legendary coach John Wooden talked about the idea of thanking the passer as far back as the 1960s, and Wooden suggested they say “thank you” or wink at the other player. “That was a good idea, but I wanted a stronger, more visible signal of thanks. I preferred a gesture that the fans could see. The media too.” Pointing at the player who made the pass, Smith wrote, showed “appreciation for an unselfish act that helps the team.”

If you’re interested in reading the article from the Washington Post about Dean Smith you can do so here.

Positive energy between teammates builds relationships. Those relationships help make teams great. Not just great teams on the scoreboard, but great teams that are a joy to play on. Basketball is much more fun when teammates are together, acknowledging the passer can help that process. Build the habit of pointing to the passer and help lift your team to even greater success!

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