Back - Back Pass

The Back-Back Pass is the more difficult of the basic passes, and can be very frustrating for the beginner. Don’t worry, though – persevere! You will get it.

Start with a ball in the right cradle; arm parallel with the chest. Place the left hand in front of it so the base of the index finger is against the right wrist. There is a groove between the index finger and thumb that slides very nicely against the opposite forearm. Try to get your hand into a comfortable position there so that the base of the left thumb is against the right hand’s heel.

To start off learning this pass, it is possibly best to bend the left hand up and back so the fingers end up almost touching the ball in an almost vertical cradle. Tip the hands over to the right so the ball rolls over the right knuckles and is stopped by the left hand’s fingers. Tip the hand further and further so the ball is supported more and more in the left cradle, until you can take away the right hand.

That method is only good for learning the move – it will hinder the speed at which you can perform moves at a later stage, so we’ll learn to improve it now.

Starting again in the same position, lift the right fingers up to about 30 degrees, tilting hand so the ball rolls to the left hand, passing on to just behind the left knuckles. The ball should have enough speed to continue on to the left cradle position.

If you find that the ball continues too far and falls off, you can slow its progress by raising the left fingers up at an angle to cause the ball to have to climb uphill. The further you raise the fingers, the quicker the ball will slow.

It is also a good idea to move the receiving hand slightly in the direction of the ball’s motion, bringing it to a halt smoothly.

You can practice this using a move called the Back-Back Roll. Pass from the right cradle to the left cradle, then bring your right hand under the left to the other side and pass again from left to right. Done continuously, this feels great, and looks like the ball is rolling left to right.

This pass is not yet complete. As it is, you are passing directly from the cradle to the opposite cradle. To make it look a lot better, and increase the control you have over the action, you can lengthen the move out by passing to positions further down the hand and back of the arm.

Be careful, though – I used to practice with glass balls, which are very heavy and very hard. This caused bruising on the backs of my hands that took weeks to get rid of[1].

The best place to pass to aesthetically is possibly the position near the base of the radius and ulna bones, but not so near that the ball hits the lump of the ulna’s base (that can hurt, too).

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