What is a No-Look Pass in Basketball? Who Popularized It?

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Basketball is an ever-changing sport. Through the years, the evolution of basketball has given us new rules, players, and concepts. With the evolution of the sport come new moves, some more iconic than others. One of the instant classics that everybody knows and loves is the “No-Look Pass” — but how did this move come to be? The No-Look Pass in basketball has captured hoops fans from around the world, so let’s talk more about it here.

What is a No-Look Pass in BasketballWhat is a No-Look Pass in Basketball?

As the name suggests, a no-look pass is a flashy passing technique by having a ballhandler pass the ball to another player without looking at the ball’s direction. This is a basketball skill that is used to deceive opposing teams and trick defenders into committing to another position. By diverting the attention of defenders, your teammates can easily cut into the basket and score freely. A no-look pass isn’t just a flashy move because, when executed well, it can shift momentum and turn the tide of the game.

In order to do a no-look pass, the ballhandler must have a good blend of vision, creativity, and trust with their teammates. The ability to turn court awareness into action in a split second is a skill needed to pull off a no-look pass.

Types of No-Look Passes in BasketballTypes of No-Look Passes in Basketball

At its core, a no-look pass is done by passing in one direction while looking at the other — but we all know it can be more than this. Being dynamic and fluid, basketball players have always found ways to elevate a no-look pass. Let’s go over some of them.

Behind-the-Back No-Look Pass

This is perhaps the most classic of all no-look passes. Naturally, when you do a behind-the-back pass, you look opposite of the ball, which makes this type of no-look pass the most naturally occurring as well. A behind-the-back pass is a great tool to have, especially for emergency passes in clogged spaces.

Over-the-Shoulder No-Look Pass

As the name suggests, this pass is done when a player turns their head and passes the ball over their shoulder. Since this pass is done on the eye level, it can be easily spotted and intercepted — which makes pulling this off even more magnificent. One of the players who popularized this is the great Magic Johnson.

Fake No-Look Pass

The beauty of a no-look pass is that it is totally unpredictable — so why not make it even more unpredictable by mixing it with a fake? A fake no-look pass can be done in two ways. First, you can fake a pass and then pass it in the other direction, like the one time LeBron did it against the Lakers. Another way is to fake a no-look pass and then pass it or take the basket yourself, something along the lines of Rajon Rondo’s signature pass.

When to Use a No-Look PassWhen to Use a No-Look Pass?

The no-look pass is a useful move to have in your arsenal. If you know when and how to use it properly, this flashy move can give your team easy baskets and even swing the momentum in your favor. Let’s go over some scenarios when you can do a no-look pass.

First is when you’re attracting multiple defenders from the front. This usually happens when ballhandlers are blitzed, and all passing lanes in front are blocked. In this case, the only option is to pass it from behind with the added bonus of finding an open teammate. Consequently, no-look passes are great when a ballhandler has run out of space under the basket or when they are pressured against the sidelines.

Another situation where a no-look pass can be really good is during fast breaks. Fast breaks are high-intensity situations where the ballhandlers are in control because they are most likely already open. However, a teammate who fills the lane during a fast break can be a great recipient of a no-look pass since all the focus will be on the ballhandler rushing to the basket.

A team during a big run can also benefit from executing a no-look pass. Flashy moves like a no-look pass can get a team going, not to mention the crowd as well.

How to Improve No-Look Passes in the BasketballHow to Improve No-Look Passes in the Basketball?

Pulling off a no-look pass is easier said than done. In order to do it, especially during high pressured situations, you need to develop and improve the following skills:

Court Awareness

Court awareness is the skill of consciously knowing what’s happening in the court. This includes knowing where the ball is when it’s not in your hand, knowing where your teammates are, and even knowing where the defenders are. With a developed court awareness, you could easily pinpoint where to direct your no-look passes.

Peripheral Vision

Good peripheral vision is important to execute a no-look pass. Having a good peripheral vision allows you to locate open teammates without having to look at them directly. This also allows you to pass the ball accurately without looking at the direction of the pass — the true essence of a no-look pass.

Passing Accuracy

A flashy no-look pass is nothing but a flashy turnover if you don’t make it accurately. Improving your dexterity and passing accuracy will allow you to throw the ball in the right direction. Remember to practice all angles of a no-look pass because the more you work on them in practice, the easier it gets during actual games.


Practices and games are two different things. Of course, practices are more forgiving, while actual games have higher stakes and actual opponents. Understandably, some players would fold during games and are unable to execute the move they do in practice, such as no-look passes. Improving your composure and mental game will slow things down for you and enable you to execute no-look passes smoothly. Composure is developed by simulating game scenarios and playing with higher stakes.

Pros and Cons of Using No-Look Pass in BasketballPros and Cons of Using No-Look Pass in Basketball

Like any other move in basketball, no-look passes have their own pros and cons. Using this move has its merits, but it can also turn out negatively for you.

Pros of Using No Look Pass

  • Surprise factor – The primary advantage of a no-look pass is its ability to catch defenders off-guard. The surprise factor of a no-look pass is unmatched and will most likely lead to an easy basket.
  • Entertainment value – Like any flashy move, no-look passes have high entertainment value. This easily gets your teammates and the crowd going.
  • Momentum shifter – Momentum is an important thing in basketball. Executing a flashy move like a no-look pass can easily shift the momentum toward your team or even serve as a creative dagger to your opponent.
  • Improved team chemistry – Let’s admit it: receiving a no-look pass feels really good — especially when you score a basket with it. Executing a no-look pass with your teammate can establish a fun connection and improve the chemistry between the two of you.

Cons of Using No Look Pass

  • Risk of turnovers – Again, a poorly executed no-look pass is simply a flashy turnover. More so, your no-look pass can end up in the hands of an opponent who can turn that turnover into an easy, fast-break basket.
  • Opponent Adjustment – Repeatedly doing a no-look pass can reduce its surprise factor and overall effectivity. If you’re known to make no-look passes, opposing teams can adjust defensively and take note of your tendencies or passing routes.
  • Situational limitations – A no-look pass isn’t suitable for all situations. Sometimes, a safer passing method is preferred, especially in high-pressure situations.
  • High-risk, high-reward situations – A failed no-look pass can result in a turnover, but that mistake can be more amplified in certain situations. For example, if you really need a basket to counter a run or to stay in the game, attempting to do a no-look pass and failing at it will essentially lose the game.

5 Best No-Look Passes in the NBA5 Best No-Look Passes in the NBA

So, what is the best no-look pass in the NBA? The league has been blessed with the best passers of all time who have executed the best no-look passes in history. These no-look passes have undeniably etched themselves in NBA history, so let’s take a trip down memory lane.

1. LeBron James One-Handed No-Look Pass

It’s an instant classic. LeBron’s one-handed fake to a no-look pass to a rim-running Ante Zizic is one of the most creative passes we’ve seen in recent memory. The way LeBron fooled three Lakers defenders in this pass will always be a sight to see. It was simple and clean yet effective in getting the Cavs that easy bucket.

2. Magic Johnson Signature No-Look

Ask any NBA fan who the no-look pass belongs to as a move, and they will probably say Magic Johnson. Arguably the greatest point guard of all time, Ervin “Magic” Johnson earned his monicker through his creativity and showmanship in passing. Magic led the notorious Showtime Lakers and executed so many beautiful no-look passes that choosing one to feature here would simply be a disservice to his skills.

3. Jason Williams Elbow Pass

We know you all saw this coming. Jason William’s signature elbow pass caught the NBA by storm and remains one of the hardest passes to pull off in-game. In terms of no-look passes, the elbow pass is perhaps one of the most creative executions ever and one of the most effective feints to confuse defenders.

4. Pistol Pete Maravich Wrist Pass

Magic Johnson may own the no-look pass, but Pistol Pete Maravich pioneered it. In the 70s, Pistol Pete was known as the best passer, and his no-look passes were never seen before. However, his greatest feat was perhaps the wrist pass. The wrist pass isn’t just a no-look pass; it is a pass that totally deviates from the direction of the ballhandler’s arm. To this day, nobody has pulled this one off in-game.

5. Steve Nash No-Look Passes

Everybody knows Steve Nash as one of the flashiest point guards to ever grace the NBA. Magic may be the king of no-look passes, but Steve Nash was undeniably the crown prince. Like Magic, Nash made no-look passes a daily occurrence and successfully mixed it up with his superb passing skills. Again, Steve Nash has executed so many ridiculous no-look passes that we opted not to pick any specific pass to feature.

Wrapping Things Up: What is a No-Look Pass in Basketball

The no-look pass is an elevated passing execution that directs the ball opposite to the ballhandler’s line of sight. When executed properly, this pass misdirects opponents effectively and gets you easy baskets. While easier said than done, you can improve the execution of your no-look passes by enhancing your court awareness, peripheral vision, and more. Enhance these skills, and you might just be able to pull off the same passes as Magic Johnson, Steve Nash, and more. At the end of the day, adding this move to your arsenal is a testament to your skill and hard work as a baller.

We hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, be sure to check out our other basketball FAQ articles here.

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> What are Defensive Fouls in Basketball?

> What is a Double Dribble in Basketball?

> Can You Catch Your Own Airball?

> What is “Small Ball” in the NBA?

> Who Made the Finger Roll Layup Famous?

> How to Play Perimeter Defense in Basketball

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Hoops Addict

Hoops Addict was created to help basketball fans of all ages learn more about the sport and find the best basketball gear to improve their ability to hoop. He has been a huge basketball fan for decades, watching thousands of basketball games through the years to learn the ins and outs of the game.

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