Common Basketball Questions: Answered (Ultimate List)

Have you ever wondered why basketball players chew gum? Or why do they slap the floor or wipe their shoes?

We’re sure you have many of these questions in your mind. 

So instead of searching for them individually, we’ve compiled them into one ultimate list. Enjoy! 

Table of Contents

What are Traditions in Basketball?

Basketball, like any other sport, has its traditions. These include actions and etiquette that have been passed down through generations.

Basketball players are only humans, no matter how athletic or out-of-this-world they may seem. As such, they carry on the traditions for better or worse. 

Now, there are many questions about basketball traditions and actions. So, we thought just to put them all in one ultimate guide.

Questions About Basketball Traditions and Actions

Why do Basketball Players Raise their Hands?

Basketball players raise their hands usually after a foul has been called. This is to acknowledge the foul called. 

They would do this so everyone could easily see who fouled, especially the officials and scorekeepers. 

But players also raise their hands during plays. The reason would be to call for the ball or to call for a play. 

Why do Basketball Players Touch Hands after Free Throws?

Basketball players touching hands after a free throw has become a long-standing tradition.

After every free throw, no matter if it went in or not, players would slap hands with their teammates. 

Players do this to show sportsmanship to their teammates. It also raises the overall team morale. 

Why do Basketball Players Always Help Each Other up?

Basketball players always help their teammates up after a fall to show sportsmanship and camaraderie. 

It boosts the team’s spirits and helps the team’s psychology going forward.

On the contrary, they usually don’t help opposing teammates up. But sometimes, some players do show sportsmanship even towards opposing players by helping them up. 

Why do Basketball Players Slap the Floor?

Slapping the floor usually means that the game has become more intense. Players and even coaches are the ones who do this action.

This tradition started with the college team Duke Blue Devils. 

But this practice isn’t used widely in professional leagues like the NBA and FIBA. All because it can result in a technical foul or a fine.  

Why do Basketball Players Squeeze the Ball?

Players usually squeeze or hold the ball after a violation has been called. This is typically done to show dominance or to show aggressiveness.

Sometimes, players squeeze the ball to test their grip or exercise their hands. 

Why do Basketball Players Block Shots After the Whistle?

Players usually block the shot even after the whistle because they don’t want to see the ball get in. They don’t want to allow easy baskets even if it’s not counted.

Other times, they can’t stop their jump mid-air, so they might as well block the ball so the other team can feel the pressure. 

But if the player blocks the ball, which can convert into an and-one, they might count the basket. 

Why do Basketball Players Talk to the Refs?

Basketball players usually talk to the officials to complain about a call. In the NBA, if a player is excessively complaining, he might get a technical foul or get ejected.

Other times, a player might talk to the referee to ask about a call earlier or get clarification about a rule. 

Why do Basketball Players Blow on Their Hands?

The reason why basketball players blow on their hands is to dry their hands quickly. This is because sweaty hands don’t allow players to grip the ball normally. 

So, by blowing on their hands, they can quickly get rid of the sweat and increase their grip. 

Although this practice isn’t as effective as wiping your hand with a towel, players who do this usually are in the middle of a play.   

Why do Basketball Players Have Big Hands?

Basketball players have big hands because of their genetics. The taller a player is, the higher the chance that his hands will be bigger.

But contrary to the beliefs of many, playing basketball doesn’t make your hand bigger.

You can train your hand to increase its grip, flexibility and reflexes. But having big hands is dependent on genes.

Related: Why are Basketball Players so Tall? The Truth Revealed

Why do Basketball Players Pat Heads?

If a basketball player pats another person’s head, it’s a sign of respectful communication. It’s to convey that their teammate did a good job.

It’s similar to how they also slap their behind, touch hands, bump chests and high fives.

But if the player taps his own head usually after a dunk, it’s a type of celebration. It might mean that the opponent’s head just got dunked on.

Why do Basketball Players Cover their Mouth When Talking?

Basketball players cover their mouths when talking because they don’t want others to hear what they’re talking about.

The media and fans are always curious about what players talk about, so they do this while talking. 

Another reason would be that they believe they have bad breath, which is a common thing to happen while playing sports. 

Why do Basketball Players Clap?

The most common reason players clap is to show support for their team. Whenever a teammate scores, the bench usually claps. 

But there are also times when a player would clap aggressively in front of an opposing player. This is done to aggravate or get in the head of the enemy team.

Why do Basketball Players Flop?

Basketball players flop to bait foul calls. They tend to exaggerate the contact to sell the foul to the referees.

You could get a technical foul or a fine in the NBA if caught flopping. But that still doesn’t stop a lot of players from doing so. Some even developed it as a habit. 

The referees can’t catch flops all the time because they might be in a blind spot, or they can’t tell if it’s a flop. 

Why do Basketball Players Fall So Much?

Basketball is a contact sport, so it makes sense that players fall all the time. They also fall purposely to avoid more contact or save their body from injury. 

For instance, Steph Curry has a habit of falling after a tricky layup because he has bad ankles. He doesn’t want to put too much pressure on his feet, so he lets his body absorb most of the contact by falling. 

There are also other instances when players fall, such as when pushed, out of balance, or diving for the ball. 

Why do Basketball Players go Bald?

Basketball players usually go bald due to their age or stress. 

Professional players usually go through so much stress during their basketball career. They practice daily, play many games during a season, and even push their body to the limit.

But sometimes, players shave their heads for convenience. They don’t want to bother maintaining a hairstyle because it will get messed up while playing. 

Why do Basketball Players Get Injured So Much?

Basketball is a demanding physical sport, so many players get injured often

This is especially true if a player’s conditioning and body aren’t up to par with the game’s intensity. 

But even professionals get injured a lot since basketball demands a lot of physical actions. They jump, foul, dive, and get pushed around often, which takes a toll on their body. 

Why do Basketball Players Get Fined for Celebrating?

Usually, basketball celebrations are allowed. But if it’s interfering with a play, done with a rude gesture, or excessive, then they will be fined.

Players would get technical fouls for excessive celebrations. But for professional players, they would even get fined. 

Why do Basketball Players Lift After Games?

Basketball players lift even after games to continue developing their muscles. They can become stronger and even avoid injuries by strengthening and conditioning them.

Players would usually lift before and even after games. This has become a common practice for most professional players.

Why do Basketball Players Ice Their Knees?

Basketball players ice their knees to reduce swelling and pain. They do this so that they can recover quickly.

Players would also take ice baths so their whole bodies could recover. This is a good practice, but they must be careful not to leave their bodies on ice for too long. 

Why do Basketball Players Walk Weirdly?

Basketball players walk weirdly because their body is swollen, they have an injury, or they’re tired.

Players have a noticeable walk that looks like they’re lazy or they’re dragging their feet. Aside from the reasons above, they might have picked up this habit from others. 

Why do Basketball Players Have Tattoos? 

Basketball players usually get tattoos because it’s stylish and a common practice. Also, basketball leagues don’t prohibit players from getting tattoos, unlike regular jobs.

So, over the years, we’ve seen more and more basketball players get tattoos as if they’re covering their whole bodies. 

Plus, in the opinion of many, tattoos look cool and normal now for players. 

Why do Basketball Players Lie About Their Height?

Basketball players lie about their height, usually to play a specific position. 

There are five positions in basketball: Point guard, Shooting guard, Small forward, Power forward, and Center.

Although there isn’t any distinct rule that states the specific height for each position. But some players don’t want to play the position that their size is suited for. 

There are also times when they lie about their height to get to a basketball team. 

Why do Basketball Players Pat Their Heads?

Basketball players patting their own heads mean that they just had a slam dunk. Other times, it might mean that they got fouled while dunking.

But when a player pats a teammate on the head, it shows sportsmanship. It’s usually done after a good play. 

Why do Basketball Players Point up After Scoring?

Basketball players point up after scoring to dedicate it to someone. It’s usually done to give credit to their God, deceased loved ones, or mentors. 

It may also be a habit they’ve picked up over the years. 

Steph Curry is one of the players who do this often. He would tap his chest and point upwards after scoring. He later revealed that it means “have a heart for God.” 

Why do Basketball Players Smoke Cigars?

Basketball players smoke cigars, usually after winning the championship. It’s become a celebratory tradition that NBA players popularized. 

6-time NBA champion Michael Jordan was the one who popularized this tradition. 

Why do Basketball Players Scream?

Players usually scream while going to the hoop to gain the strength to push through. Athletes do this in most sports, such as tennis, football, and more.

They would do this to boost their spirits. Emotion plays a big part in sports, which is why players scream away whenever they get a big play. 

Why do Basketball Players Say And One?

Players would yell ‘and one‘ after getting fouled and scoring a basket. It literally means ‘plus one.’ That’s because they would be rewarded one basket after getting a foul and still scoring. 

It’s become a habit for many players to say this, even if the referee will decide if it counts. 

But for pickup games when there are no referees, players say this a lot.  

Questions About Basketball Equipment

Why do Basketball Players Wear Mouthguards?

Basketball players wear mouthguards to protect their mouths from injuries. Mouthguards prevent broken teeth, chipped teeth, and any other mouth injuries.

Although no rule requires players to use mouthguards, they’re highly encouraged nowadays. 

Why do Basketball Players Chew on Their Mouth Guards?

Players chew on their mouthguards either to adjust or just as a habit.

A lot of mouthguards nowadays also comes in different flavors. So, it’s an excellent substitute for chewing gum or their jersey. 

Why do Basketball Players Wipe the Bottom of their Shoes?

Basketball players are often seen wiping the bottom of their shoes with their hands. They do this to remove the dirt from the shoes so they regain their grip.

They do this with their hands so that the dirt will also make the sweat in their hands disappear. 

This practice is not typical for professional leagues. This is because the floor is regularly swept by cleaners, making it impossible for dirt to accumulate.

Besides, they also have many resources that can clean their shoes, such as towels

Why do Basketball Players Eat Lemons?

Basketball players may include lemon in their water when playing. This has slightly more benefits than just plain water. 

Lemon contains vitamins that can provide more energy to the body. It helps keep them hydrated, which is like the effect of Gatorade. 

Why do Basketball Players Cut the Net?

Cutting the net is a tradition that basketball players and coaches do after winning the championship. They keep the net as a souvenir and motivation for years to come.  

Why do Basketball Players Wear Two Socks?

Wearing two socks has been a common practice among basketball players. They do this to provide more cushion to their feet to prevent injuries. 

But nowadays, basketball shoes have become so advanced that extra cushioning is built-in. 

So, most pro basketball players don’t even use double socks anymore. Instead, they have shoes that are more advanced and thicker socks. 

Why do Basketball Players Dress up Before Games?

Dressing up before games is a way for players to show their professional side. Professional players also dress up for interviews after the game and other press conferences. 

Dressing up allows players also to show their personality and creativity. Sometimes, they might even dress up for different occasions and holidays, such as Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day, and Christmas. 

Why do Basketball Players Wear Two Different Colored Shoes?

Basketball players wear two different colored shoes but the same style. These are a popular trend nowadays for basketball shoes. 

For instance, Lamelo Ball’s signature shoe, inspired by Rick and Morty, features the color green for the left pair and red for the right. 

Why do Basketball Players Tape Their Fingers?

Taping your finger before a basketball game can help avoid sprains and injuries. The tape adds a lot of benefits, such as:

  • Increased grip on the ball
  • Prevents sprains
  • Increase support by taping two fingers together

Related: Can You Still Play Basketball With A Jammed Finger?

Why do Basketball Players Tuck in Their Shirts?

Most professional leagues require players to tuck in their shirts in their shorts. This is because they want the players to look organized while playing.

There are also a lot of hazards when players don’t tuck in their shirts. Imagine getting caught inside another player’s shirt while fighting for a rebound

Why do Basketball Players Wear Jackets on the Bench?

Basketball players wear jackets and sweatpants on the bench to stay warm. They want their body to remain active as they can be called anytime to play. 

Keeping their muscles warm under the extra clothing allows them to immediately hop into the game without warming up again. 

Why do Basketball Shoes Squeak?

You’ll hear basketball shoes squeak due to the friction between the shoes and the floor.

When you hear a squeak sound, it usually means that the shoes have good traction. It can also mean that the court is free of debris and dust.

Why do Basketball Players Bite their Jerseys?

For many basketball players, biting their jerseys just became a habit

But for some, such as Kobe Bryant, it’s a tactic he uses when his mouth gets dry. He says that he sucks the sweat out of his jersey. 

Although the reasons can vary, biting the jersey isn’t significant. It’s just a habit that players pick up from many people. 

Why do Basketball Players Use Chalk Powder?

Basketball players rub their hands with chalk powder to strengthen their grip. 

They can avoid the ball slipping out by applying powders in their hands before games. 

But in reality, the effect lasts just a few minutes because sweat will still accumulate in your hand. A better alternative would be to wipe the hands with a towel. 

Why do Basketball Players Chew Gum?

Players would chew gum to help calm their nerves, prevent dry mouth, and have something to focus on due to the moment’s intensity. 

But nowadays, many professional basketball players chew on their mouthguards since they’re flavored. 

Why do Basketball Players Drink Gatorade?

Instead of just plain water, basketball players drink Gatorade to get electrolytes and carbohydrates. 

Gatorade provides energy and regulates body fluid well. It helps a lot when playing sports. 

They also have different flavors, which are more refreshing than just plain water. 

Why do Basketball Players Slap the Backboard?

Slapping the backboard is nothing more than a habit for basketball players. They would do this either during warmups or in a game.

But if they do it to express frustration, they may receive a technical foul. 

Why do Basketball Players Take the Soles of their Shoes?

Basketball players take out the inner soles of their shoes before giving them out to fans because they’re custom-made. 

They specifically customize orthotics for their feet to have the best advantage and cushioning.

So, they can’t give them away naturally when they cost thousands of dollars. It would also be a lot of work for them to produce them every so often. 

Why do Basketball Players Wear Masks?

Players would usually wear masks when they have some facial injury. The mask helps to keep the injured part safe when playing. 

The NBA allows players to have a mask but only when there’s a sufficient reason, such as an injury. Also, they prefer for it to be clear rather than black.

Why do Basketball Players Wear Goggles?

Some players wear goggles or glasses while playing games because they can’t see well. It might also be because of an injury

Players also wear goggles after winning championships to protect their eyes when popping champagnes. 

Why do Basketball Players Wear Knee Pads?

Basketball players wear knee pads to protect their knees and add support. Contact is unavoidable in basketball, so the best that players can do is to protect their bodies. 

Their knees are one of the most vulnerable parts as they absorb a lot of impact when jumping and even colliding with other players. 

Why do Basketball Players Wear Sleeves?

Sleeves allow players to keep their arms warm and improve blood circulation. They also provide some support and extra cushion.  

Most of all, they also look cool. So, you might see a lot of players wearing just one of them on their hands or legs. 

Final Words

We hope this guide has satisfied your curiosity about basketball players’ most common traditions and practices. 

If there’s a question that we haven’t covered here, remember that players don’t do anything without any reason or purpose. 

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