Inbounding the Ball Under Pressure

What to Discover or Recall

Realize that games and championships are lost because teams could not inbound the ball at the end of the game.
Grasp the importance of a good inbounder and that they must be developed.
Learn the basic techniques and principles required to inbound the ball under pressure.
Comprehend that players must be taught and practice the fundamental passing and receiving skills needed for making successful inbounds passes.
Understand that players, on all levels, must know the rules.

Inbounds Pass


It is not so easy to inbound ball. Most players and coaches take making an inbounds pass for granted, and rely on individual player effort to get the job done. However, in making an inbounds pass, the passer is facing a five against four defensive advantage and only has five (5) seconds in which to locate a receiver and make a successful inbounds pass.

In addition, to this numerical disadvantage, by rule the inbounder cannot move, except after a made shot. This provides the defense with the opportunity to jam or smother the passer very effectively with an active defender on ball. Also, on baseline out of bound situations, the backboard comes into play and becomes a real obstacle in which that the inbounds passer has to contend.

Many of championships have been lost because teams were not able to inbound ball at end of game. Players on all levels, including the NBA and WNBA, need to know and practice the fundamental skills and concepts required in making a successful inbound pass. In additional to the physical skills involved, good inbound passers must possess a strong commitment to team play since they are taken for granted and very rarely rewarded for the efforts. However, good inbounders are vital, and a team will not win a championship without one.

| Inbounding | Automatics | Basics | Receiving | Techniques | Rule Knowledge |


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Inbounding the Ball Techniques and Principles

Good Inbounders


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1. If unguarded, inbound the ball and receive the ball back on a basket cut (give & go).

2. When the defender guarding the out of bounds pass turns back, think about passing to self. Throw the ball off the opponent's back, step inbounds, and retrieve it. This can catch the defense completely by surprise and create an easy shot.


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Inbounding the Ball Basics

Players on all levels need to be taught and practice the fundamental skills and concepts needed in making a successful inbounds pass. In additional to the physical skills involved, since they are taken for granted and very rarely rewarded for the efforts, inbounders must have a strong commitment to team play . Once a player makes an inbound pass, they are primarily responsible for maintaining defensive balance or usually the last option. However, good inbounders are vital, and you will not win a championship without one.

Trap Zones

Trap Zones

Avoid inbounding the ball into trap zones. Inbounder must using sharp, crisp passes. Avoid throwing any weak or bounce passes.

Court Vision

Court Vision

Inbounder O4 must loop and see the floor before gaining possession of the ball and stepping out of bounds.

Outlet O1 should always receives the inbounds pass with back (numbers) to the sideline.


Make Deep Outlets

When inbounding the ball, make as deep as an inbounds pass as the defense will allow. This will cut down the time and court distance needed to advance the basketball in attacking the defense. Also, try to inbound to a player in motion.


Court Spacing

By setting up to receive a pass 3'- 6' off the sideline, if/when the pass is a little wide the receiver can still step over and successfully catch the ball. On the other hand, it the receiver sets up right on sideline, it eliminates any margin for error. If the pass is a little wide it will result in a turnover for being out of bounds.



Lead Receivers


When throwing long, the inbounder passer must take the ball out on one side of the basket or the other to avoid striking it, and must lead the receiver to "Elbow." Never throw a pass directly to a receiver moving away. Since the receiver will be looking back at the ball, the defender can easily establish defensive position resulting in leading the receiver into offensive foul or traveling violation.

Inbounder should employ an "Over the Top" baseball pass or a hook pass. A high arching pass will not only allow the defense to recover, but it, also, may hit an obstruction hanging down from the ceiling such as the scoreboard or speaker. If the pass is thrown too far out in front of the receiver, when it hits the floor, because of the back spin, it will bounce straight up allowing the receiver to catch up and gain possession rather than skipping out of bounds.


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Getting Open & Receiving the Inbounds Pass

Basic Guidelines


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Five Basic Techniques for Inbounding the Ball

Most teams do a poor job of defending baseline and sideline out bounds plays. But, on the other hand, they are very well prepared to deploy a variety of presses to exert full court pressure.

1. Posting Up

Strong Post Up

Simple Post Up Move

O1 posts up his defender X1 by creating contact and then using a step over/arm over technique to receive the inbounds pass from O4. Inbounder O4 always passes away from the defender.

Spin Move

Spin Move

If/when the defensive player X1 counters the step over/arm over move by stepping in the same direction, O1 spins back in the opposite direction to receive the inbounds pass. Inbounder O4 should pump fake and then pass to O1 away from the defense.

2. Over the Top Pass

Over Top Pass

Over the Top Pass

If/when the defensive player X1 assumes a face position against O1, O1 seals off X1 and releases to the ball after the pass is in the air. Inbounder O4 leads receiver O1 with an over the top pass.



If/when the defensive player X1 establishes a fronting pass denial position against O1, O3 makes a v-cut into the middle, calling for a pass from 04. O1 then releases against X1's face up denial and looks to receive a quick feed from O3. With O3 cleared out, inbounder O4 also has the option of making an over the top inbounds pass directly to O1.

3. Screen and Roll


On the initial alignment O1 and O2 set up side by side. O2 then sets a hard screen on defender X1. When defender X1 chases over the screen, O4 looks to make a direct inbounds pass to O1. If defender X1 goes under the screen, O4 looks to make an over the top pass to O1 cutting away from the basket.


When the defense switches, O4 looks to inbound to O2 rolling to the basket. If the defense anticipates the switch and zones, O2 breaks off the screen and cuts way to basket for an inbounds pass from O4.


Over the Top Pass. When the defenders X1 and X2 face up on O1 and O2, and O4 is unable to make an over the top pass, O4 looks to pass to O3 breaking back into the middle for help. After receiving the inbounds pass, O3 looks to feed O1 or O2 on a speed cut to the basket.

4. Tandem Screen

Tandem Entry Left

Left Side Tandem Entry

O1 lines up behind O2. If/when defender X1 plays to the inside O1 breaks to the outside. O2 breaks opposite O1. O4 looks to make a sharp inbounds pass to O1 or O2.

Tandem Entry Right

Right Side Tandem Entry

If/when defender X1 plays to the outside of O1, O1 breaks to the inside. O2 breaks opposite O1. O4 looks to make a sharp inbounds pass to O1 or O2.


Over the Top Pass. If/when defender plays in front of O1, O4 looks to make a direct over the top pass to O1.

5. Automatic and Double Team Entries

Give & G0

Give & Go

If/when the inbounder is left unguarded, O4 looks to execute the
automatic "Give & Go" option. O4 makes a quick inbounds
pass to O1 and cuts down the middle of the floor. O1 looks to make a quick return pass to O4.

Out of Bounds (Made Basket)

Double Team Entry

When the defense double teams O1, O1 can step out of bounds and receive a pass from O4. O1 then makes a quick return pass to unguarded O4 cutting down the court. Note: If either defender X1 or X4 reaches out and touches O4's pass to O1 behind the out of bounds plane, it is a technical foul.


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Out of Bounds Rule Knowledge


Inbounding Rules


All players must know the rules. A player's lack of rule knowledge cannot only result in a loss of ball possession, but can also cost you a game or championship.

  1. The inbounder can not be changed once an official has designated player for throw-in.

  2. On a throw-in the ball must leave the inbounder's hands within five seconds from the time the throw-in starts.

  3. The inbounder cannot touch the ball until it has been touched by another player.

    If the defender plays with their back to inbounder, the inbounder can toss the ball off the defender's back and as long as they step inbounds first, pick up ball and score.

  4. For a timeout to be granted during the throw-in, it must be requested before the five second count elapses.

    Make sure all players know how many time outs they have left in the game.

  5. Except after a made shot, the inbounder cannot leave the designated throw-in spot. However, they are allowed one step in either direction.

  6. After a made shot, the inbounder can run along the baseline prior to making an inbounds pass.

  7. From the front court, the ball can be inbounded to a teammate in the back court without an over and back violation being called.

  8. When the inbounds pass goes directly out of bounds without being touched, it comes back to the original throw-in spot rather than where it goes out of bounds.

  9. When a timeout is called immediately following a made basket, on the subsequent throw-in the inbounder can still move along the baseline.

  10. On the throw-in after a made basket, you do not lose right to run baseline because of an infraction by defense.

    For example, if the ball is kicked by a defender on the inbounds pass, the inbounds passer can still run the baseline on subsequent throw-in.

  11. Inbounder can safely pass the ball into the back court without an over and back violation being called.

  12. Inbounder cannot throw ball over the backboard or directly into the basket.

    Prior to rule change, teams with a tall player could simply lob the ball over the basket. Coaches would use their creative ingenuity, including hanging chicken wire down from the ceiling behind the basket, to stop out of bounds lob plays.

  13. After a made basket, it is legal for the inbounder to pass to a teammate stepping out of bounds along the baseline and receive a return pass after stepping inbounds.

  14. If the defender reaches over the out of bounds vertical plane and touches the ball while in the hands of the inbounder or is in the air behind the vertical plane, it is a technical foul.


Inbounds Trouble


When the ball is turned over on the inbounds pass, it immediately creates a five on four offensive advantage. However, by taking the five (5) second count, it will allow a team to get set on defense and have better than 60% chance of making a defensive stop.



Out of Bounds Rule Knowledge Test

Have your players take this self-quiz. Inbound violations occur even on the NBA level. Use the results as a team evaluation. Go over any question(s) missed by multiple players making sure that all players understand the rule. In taking a few minutes to test your players’ rule knowledge, it may save and even win a game or two.

Print Take the HoopTactics' Self-Quiz





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