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Basketball Hand Signals

A hand signal in basketball is used when a player wants to communicate something non verbally to their teammates. They use a hand gesture instead to tell their teammates what the play is for offense or defense.

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Play Calling Signals

Basketball Play Call

Hand gestures are an excellent way to simplify calling plays and establish a method for communicating them. A lot of teams assign plays to certain numbers. That way when a point guard wants to run a specific play it is easy for them to communicate what it is to the rest of the team. They just need to hold up the number on their fingers that is assigned to the play.

Some teams call plays with complex hand gestures to give more options than just five fingers of plays. It also makes it harder for the defense to pick up on signals and anticipate what is coming before it does.

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Call for a Pick Signal

basketball hand signal call for a pick

A common hand gesture is when a player is calling for a screen or pick to be set by a teammate. To call for a pick in basketball the ball handler will raise a fist, or do another hand motion as predetermined before the game.

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Isolation Play Signal

Basketball Isolation Play

Isolation is a term used to describe when an offensive player wants to go 1 on 1 against the defense. When a player wants to call for an isolation they will wave their hand as if shooing away their teammates. This motion is also done when a ball handler does not want a pick that their teammate has set.

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Time Out Signal

In order to call a timeout either a player or coach must signal it to the ref. How that is done is with a hand gesture. Both hands are put perpendicular to one another to form a "T".

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Celebration Signals

A lot of players also use hand signals while celebrating during the game. A common celebration is the extending of the pinky finger, ring finger, and middle finger while connecting the index finger and thumb to celebrate a three pointer.

Custom handshakes are also popular. Players like to have unique handshakes or "daps" with each teammate.

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Referee Hand Signals

basketball referee hand signals

Referees are constantly using hand signals on the court. Each one represents a foul call or an action that needs to be communicated.

For example two thumbs up is a jump ball, a raised fist is a personal foul, and a "T" is a technical foul.

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