What is Heat Check in Basketball? Easiest Explanation

For those who have just started watching NBA, you might have been culture-shocked by some of the basketball slang that seems entirely unrelated to what they mean.

Take heat check, for example. You might have heard live anchors announcing it with an elevated level of excitement, followed by the audience’s festive cheer, yet you can’t tell what it means.

A heat check is when a player does a difficult shot after a series of shots to see if he can continue the streak. The term “heat” means someone who’s hitting all his shots then the term “check” literally means to see if his shots can continue to fall.  

What is a Heat Check in Basketball?

If your idea of what a heat check in basketball is health-related, nope, forget about that. It’s not about the frequent temperature checking that became part of our routine during the pandemic. And no, it’s also not about checking the heat index on a scorching summer day.

So, what then is a heat check in basketball?

It’s when a player makes a difficult shot after hitting a lot of relatively easy ones.

Heat check is the term used by broadcasters and fans to say that a player is really hot and then decided to test his skills even more.

Picture this, Steph Curry makes a 3-pointer, then another at the corner, then suddenly he shoots a half-court shot.

He did this because he was feeling hot from the field and wanted to take it even further. That’s when you say he did a heat check.

How do Heat Checks Work?

A set of criteria must pass a shot to qualify as a heat check. First, the player has successfully shot baskets in a row, often easy, safe shots. Second, after this series of successful shots, the player attempts a difficult shot.

By passing these two scenarios, you can say that a player just did a heat check, regardless of whether it was successful.

There isn’t also a unique point system involved, even if the shot was thrown from beyond the midcourt line.

Why is it Called a Heat Check?

Okay, so we now understand what a heat check in basketball is. But why is it called as such anyway?

When a player is in the zone scoring consecutive points during a game, he’s usually tagged as the “hot one”.

When he becomes unstoppable with those successful shots, people can’t stop saying, “He’s on fire!”

Yes, you got the clue. That’s where the term heat check comes from. The player is pushing his limits, seeing how far he can go now that he’s burning with multiple successful shots.

Also, you can think of this type of shot as something that drives supporters to blaze with unmatched excitement for their favorite team and where the game is heading.

3 Must-Know Tips to Get a Heat Check Successfully

Guy shooting over a man in basketball

If you only love basketball as a hobby, you might think that only professional players can whip up those utterly satisfying heat check shots.

But you have to think otherwise from now on. You can own some memorable on-fire moments on the hardcourt, too!

Here are our best tips:

1. Practice doing more long-range shots.

The success of getting a heat check shot ideally can be determined way before the actual game. Confidence enough and leaving everything else to chance won’t get you anywhere.

It can take countless practice before you can make precise long-range shots. And you need to up your agility, too, to get a three-point swoosh while being closely guarded by the opposing team’s defenders.

2. Let your grit and confidence shine.

So, you’ve made multiple successful shots in a row. What’s stopping you now?

Many times, heat check shots are a result of a split-second decision. But when it goes through that hoop without fail just in time to beat the buzzer, the entire team thanks to the gritty player for taking the risk.

The lesson? If you’ve developed the skill, show it. When a chance for a heat check opens up, be decisive. Be confident, and do the thing!

3. Study some of NBA’s iconic heat check makers.

You don’t have to be a copycat of them. But you’ll learn a thing or more from their moves for sure.

When to Take a Heat Check

Timing is everything when it comes to heat checks. If the time is not correct, it will be frowned upon by your coaches and teammates. And worse, you can be labeled as a showoff.

So, when can you take a heat check?

It will be safer to take a heat check when your team has a significant point lead.

When a game comes to a close in seconds, and it’s impossible to advance the ball closer to the hoop, that may also be a perfect time to take a nearly impossible long-range shot.

But if the scores of both teams are pretty close, the risk might not be worth it. Remember that a heat check can instantly change the game’s momentum, either in favor of your team or otherwise.

Best Heat Check Players in the NBA

If you’re an NBA fan, without reading this part, you probably know who we’re talking about.

J.R. Smith

Because come on, he’s regarded as the king of NBA heat checks. Why won’t his name ring a bell? He’s always been on the hunt to take that kind of shot.

Lebron James

Although he’s best known for his iconic drive, he’s also capable of stealing the spotlight by making long-range jumpers.

Klay Thompson

Along with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson is part of the Splash Brothers, a power duo popularly known for splashing the basket with a series of smooth three-point shots.

Thompson has been regarded as one of the smoothest shooters the NBA has ever witnessed.

Steph Curry

Of course, this list is never complete without Steph Curry who’s regarded by many as the best shooter of all time.

Curry’s excellent range allows him to shoot from anywhere around the court.

After this, feel free to binge-watch Curry’s impossible shots, including his heat checks from the half-court.

Final Words

Heat check shots are one of the most exciting things to watch in a basketball game. If you love delightful surprises in a sports match, a heat check is precisely the moment you’re waiting for.

And if you’re a seasoned player, why not challenge yourself to create that on-fire moment?

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