Why do Basketball Players Raise their Hands? (This is Why)

Have you seen a basketball player raise their hands?

Why do they do this?

Basketball players usually raise their hands after a foul to acknowledge it. They do this so the officials will know who did it. But there are also other reasons why players would raise their hands during a game.

In this post, we’ll go over all the possible reasons why players raise their hands.

Why do Basketball Players Raise their Hands?

You may have noticed that players tend to raise their hands after a foul. This is a common occurrence in many basketball leagues big or small.

There’s only one reason why players would raise their hands after a foul – to acknowledge it. But there are also other reasons why they would raise their hands during a game.

Let’s learn all these different instances.

1. To acknowledge the foul they committed

Players raise their hands after they committed a foul to indicate that they’re the one who fouled a player.

By doing so, the officials and score keepers can easily see who committed the foul. This is necessary because they record the foul and the person who committed it. This is to keep track of the fouls of each player.

Another reason why a player might raise his hands is to acknowledge his foul thereby not contesting it. This is to show respect and sportsmanship to everyone.

2. To call for a play

A player might also raise his hands during a game when he wants to call for a play. A team usually has secret plays that they’ve devised to prepare against their opponents.

So, to put the play into motion, a player will raise his hands and signal something. Usually, they’ll put up a number with their hand such as 1, 2, 3 and so on.

When the teammates see this, they’ll immediately know what to do based on the play.

They can also assign different symbols that mean different things such as screen, shoot, pass, and more.

3. To call for the ball

When a player raises one or both of his hands, he wants the ball. They raise their hands to let the ball handler easily see them.

Players usually call for the ball when they’re open. Raising their hands is the quickest way to do this aside from shouting.

They can also raise their hand and point to other teammates that are open. Or they can point to a position that a player should move around to.

There are many meaning that a raised hand could make.

4. To acknowledge the pass

You’ll also see player raise their hands and point to other players after scoring. They do this to acknowledge the assist that they got from their teammate.

This is a common practice to show respect to the one who made it possible for them to score.

5. When defending

A player may also raise his hands when defending. They do this so they can block the opponent’s vision.

They do this during a possession or even during an inbound.

They also raise their hands when defending to block the ball or to contest a shot.

6. To celebrate

Sometimes, player also raise their hands to celebrate. One of the most common celebrations in the NBA nowadays is a three to the head.

After scoring a three-pointer, a player might make a three in his hand and point it to his head.

Is it required to raise your hands after a foul?

No, it’s not required. But it’s appreciated by everyone because it makes the job easier. Although the referees are ultimately the one to decide who made the foul, it’s a good practice to do.

When you know that you’ve committed a foul especially a hard one, you’ll need to show that you acknowledge it and you’re not denying it. This is because a lot of players deny fouls and even contest them even when the contact is obvious.


The next time you see a basketball player raise their hand in a game, you’ll know what they mean by this.

Although there could be other meanings for it, at least you know that they’re trying to convey something.

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