What Does Patting Your Head Mean in Basketball? Full Guide

In addition to verbal encouragement, physical expressions of appreciation and encouragement are essential in basketball. Is patting one’s head an example of such? What does patting your head mean in basketball?

Patting a teammate’s head is a form of respectful communication. It’s a kind gesture expressing happiness for a good play, especially after a successful slam dunk. This is similar to high-fives, chest bumps, fist bumps, and butt slap in basketball.

What Does Patting Your Head Mean in Basketball?

You’ve probably heard it a thousand times or said it yourself whenever someone did a good job: “You deserve a pat on the back for a job well-done.”

So, what does patting your head mean in basketball?

Patting a team member’s head is a famous gesture in basketball. Usually, this is done to a player who just did a great play. It’s a form of appreciative communication among team members that shows they’re happy about how they perform in the game.

How to Properly Pat Someone in the Head?

Father patting son's head

Now that we understand what patting your head means in basketball let’s talk about making this gesture properly for your teammates.

Because it’s meant for a job well-done, patting someone’s head shouldn’t be forceful as if almost bone-smashing.

We do understand the joy and excitement of the moment, especially when it’s a sleek, impeccable dunk we’re talking about. Still, it’s essential to control how you express that joy because it might turn into a stinging slap on the head.

Just tap your teammate lightly on his head with your handheld flat. Remember that a pat is a light touch repeatedly done two to three times in a friendly manner.

What Does Tapping the Head Mean in Basketball?

Tapping one’s own head in basketball is different from patting someone. The former is a type of celebration or taunt. It means that someone just got dunked on.

While patting someone’s head is to show appreciation and sportsmanship.

Why is Sportsmanship Important in Basketball?

We commonly associate sportsmanship with our attitude and behavior towards our opponents. After all, it’s been defined as one’s understanding and commitment to fair play, integrity, ethical behavior, and general goodwill toward an opposing player or team.

But sportsmanship is first displayed within one’s team.

That’s because the quality also involves being committed to doing one’s best for his team, not just for himself.

It’s also about celebrating a team member’s success when his performance takes the spotlight. Rather than envying him for being the team’s MVP or star player, he understands that his teammate’s success is his own as part of one team. So, without hesitation, he shows sincere commendation by being kind enough to give a friendly pat on his teammate’s head or any other appreciative gesture.

Sportsmanship is essential in basketball and any sport. It promotes other positive qualities that build an admirable character in a person or a group. For example, it emphasizes the value of hard work, fairness, honesty, and most importantly, respect for others, including teammates, opponents, coaches, officials, and spectators.

In addition, it teaches a person that it’s okay to lose at times. What matters is that you build resilience. Try to see the lessons you can apply to your next game so that you can bounce back and have better chances of winning.

How to Develop Sportsmanship

To show sportsmanship, it’s essential to keep things in perspective both when you lose and when you win. How do you do that?

When you lose, you need to accept it as it is without whining or blaming someone else.

Accept that the other team has performed better this time. In sports and real-life, losing is a normal part of the cycle.

So, take the initiative to shake hands with the opponents and sincerely congratulate them.

On the other hand, when your team wins the game, it’s important to celebrate your success with grace, not arrogance. It’s a no-no to insult the losing team and their supporters. If you put yourself in their shoes, you wouldn’t want that ill-treatment.

Try to empathize with the losing team. Let them know they’ve done their best and that they’re worthy opponents.

Ultimately, remember that winning shouldn’t be the only end goal of a team. It’s just a piece of the puzzle.

Other Non-Verbal Ways Players Show Sportsmanship

Non-verbal ways of showing sportsmanship aren’t just for formality or a routine that players have been used to doing in the game. It’s essential for success. And it’s not just a claim—it’s backed by science.

Physical touch has been known to foster feelings of trust, warmth, cooperation, and empathy between individuals.

That’s true among friends and family members, and it can be applied to sports teams as well.

Interestingly, a study conducted among NBA teams revealed that the teams that expressed more physical forms of appreciation are usually more successful than the teams that displayed less physical touch between members.

Aside from patting a teammate’s head, here are some other non-verbal ways players show sportsmanship.

Patting Behinds

Also known as butt slaps, this is an enthusiastic greeting among teammates. It’s usually a congratulatory gesture when someone does good offensive or defensive play.

Shaking Hands/High-fives and Low fives

Before and after each game, players of both teams shake hands to show sportsmanship.

Meanwhile, high-fives are an energetic display of positive feedback among teammates to celebrate a good play. You also probably noticed teammates giving low fives to a player who just did a free throw.

Hugging/Chest Bumping

Is your team in the lead? A teammate just scored a couple of threes? These all deserve an enthusiastic chest bump. But if it’s in the women’s basketball league, of course, a hug is enough.

In both men’s and women’s leagues, a team hug is typical at the end of the game.

Final Thoughts

Physical expressions of sportsmanship are especially beneficial among teammates.

Backed by scientific research, its frequency is even a predictor of a team’s success. Remember that it shouldn’t only be for formality or as part of a routine but motivated by sincere appreciation, kindness, and respect for others.

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