Editor's note: Jason Kidd dictated this story to ESPN RISE Deputy Sports Editor Mark Tennis prior to his senior season at St. Joseph High School of Alameda, Calif. This story was originally printed in the basketball preview issue of Student Sports Magazine, November 1991. Student Sports is now part of ESPN RISE.
The first thing you have to do to become an accomplished passer is to always have your head up. You can't be looking at the ball at any time. The ball must almost become an extension of your hand.
Because of that, I think the first thing young players must do is to practice dribbling and passing without looking at the ball. You simply won't be able to pile up very many assists if you're worried about the ball bouncing off your foot.
Once you can master the skill of dribbling the ball and having your head up all the time, the next aspect of passing is to practice both the bounce pass and chest pass every day.
After you've become good at it, you might not need to practice your passing every day, but even then I think you'll need to practice it every other day.
I like the chest pass over the bounce pass, since it tends to get there faster and there are fewer turnovers. However, other people like the bounce pass better. Whatever you like, you still have to practice both passes over and over.
The best way to practice passing is to find a teammate either before or after your regular practice and spend time just working on passing. You then simply switch off moving up and down the court practicing both the bounce pass and chest pass and finishing off the final pass with a basket.
What's important to remember while you're practicing passing is that it's not how many passes you make in a day that's important, but rather how many perfect passes you make in a day. A perfect pass -- either from the chest or off the bounce --
The next aspect of passing to work on is to really get to know your teammates. You have to know what kind of passes they like and where they like to receive them. If a bullet chest pass is more than likely going to bounce off your teammate's hands, then you have to react and give him a different type of pass the next time. You also have to know what kinds of offensive moves they're good at, so that you can get him the ball in the right spots. And remember, you can't do any of these things if you're not constantly looking around to watch your teammates while you've got the ball.
Finally, you have to realize as a passer that your teammates are the key to your success. You have to think of yourself as someone who can build up their confidence. Don't get upset when one of your teammates blows a perfect pass from you. People, after all, are human. Try to get the ball back to them again and again. Their confidence will improve, so will your assists, and so will your team's success.