What is a No Look Pass in Basketball?

Basketball is a game of scoring, but it’s also a game of passing. There are many crafty moves players can employ to outmaneuver or out-play a stout defense. 

Sometimes that’s a long range shot, sometimes it’s a spaced-out offense, and sometimes it’s an incredibly fancy pass.

Out of all of the toughest moves you’ll see a player make on the court, a no-look pass is at the top of the list. It takes a tremendous amount of skill, IQ, and practice to get right. 

We’ll look at the mechanics behind it, as well as how to do one in a game, below.

The No Look Pass

A no look pass, as the name suggests, is a pass where the person with the ball doesn’t look at the person they’re passing to. 

They either keep their eyes on another player or, if they really want to sell the move, they fake a pass to someone first and then toss it to their real target.

Keeping your eyes away from the player you want to pass to forces the defense to stay on their toes and never lets them know what you’re thinking. Making a fake pass one way can get them out of position entirely.

Defenders have to follow a player’s eyes in order to stay in the proper position and anticipate the offense’s moves. 

If they think you’re going one way when you’re going another, it will open up wide open plays that would normally be contested or blocked.

Let’s say you’re at the top of the key and want to pass it to your center, who’s guarded under the basket. 

If you drive towards the basket and keep your eyes on the center, the opposing big men won’t move and not let you make the easy pass.

However, if you look out towards the wing, the opposing center may think you’re making a pass in that direction. 

That might then cause him to step out of position and open up a passing lane where there wasn’t one before. It’s all about misdirection.

When to Use a No Look Pass

There’s no doubt that, while useful, a no look pass is one of the most difficult moves in basketball. 

Throwing the ball without seeing where it’s going can lead to bad possession if you aren’t careful. It’s easy to toss the ball out of bounds or accidentally cause a turnover.

That risk is why even the best players in the world only use the no look pass every now and then. 

Basketball is a free-flowing game with a lot of moving parts. Every possession matters, and losing one due to an accidental toss out of bounds can lead to big problems.

You only want to use a no look pass if the situation calls for it. Typically, a set offense will have plays or screens to allow players to get open. In such situations, there’s no reason to try and get tricky. The scheme that you’re playing in will do that for you.

It’s the times where the offense is stagnant, or you’re playing in a more casual setting that doesn’t have a lot of off ball movements, where you want to use the no look. It’s not something you just do. It’s something you use to open up a tight defense.

How to Make (and Improve) a No Look Pass

If you want to add a no look pass into your regular game style, there are two elements you need to track: skill and IQ

Skill is an incredibly important part of any high-level move. No matter how much you want to make a certain pass, you can’t do it if you don’t have the ability.

Luckily, you can always practice the move. Scrimmages and other casual settings are the best way to make that happen. 

In addition, you can also make a no look pass better by increasing your basketball IQ. Seeing the court better always goes a long way.

Do what you can to study the game of basketball. Look at your own tape if you have access to it, and pay attention to players known for their passing abilities. 

The more you watch skillful players make their passes, the better yours will be in the long run.

Final Words

A no look pass is not something many players use on a regular basis. It’s not even something a lot of players can do. However, if you can use it efficiently in a game and know the correct timing windows it can go a long way in terms of advancing your play.

Don’t be afraid to try it, just know that you want to practice first. It’s not something you’re going to break out all of the time, but using one effectively can lead to points that otherwise would not have been there.

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