The NBA Guide to Creating the Perfect Handshake

Learn the art of the handshake from these NBA legends.

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The NBA season is officially upon us, which means our lives are about to be filled with posterizing dunks, epic game winners, and endless speculation about LeBron’s receding hairline. But, more importantly, it’s the perfect time to finally teach your kid the sacred art of the elaborate handshake or high five. Nobody compares to NBA players when it comes to crafting elaborate handshakes and elaborate handshakes absolutely delight kids. They’re nuts for them. It’s like getting a cool nickname and dancing all that same time. But crafting a personal handshake for you and your kid is no easy task so you might want to take some pointers before you get started. Here are a few pointers from the all-time greats of basketball handshaking and a guy to training your kid to high five, starting with the easy stuff and then getting crazy.

The “Stay Cool” High-Five

We’ve all seen this one before. A player makes an amazing shot or block and instead of celebrating, inserts his dominance by giving a nonchalant high-five to the nearest teammate. It’s the ultimate power move, letting everyone know you’ve been here before and you’ll damn sure be here again real soon. It says, “Yeah, I’m dope,” but in a way that isn’t super ostentatious. This basic high five teaches children the power of subtlety.

It’s a move that’s been used since the NBA began.

It can also work as a firm handshake.

The “Stay Cool” is less about the hands and more about the face. You have to look completely stoic and maybe even a little bored by your own success.

Bonus points if you master the Steph Curry walk by version. This truly emphasizes how completely regular greatness feels to you.

The “Sweet Emotion” Five

The pure, raw excitement that fuels these fives cannot be manufactured. It only surfaces after you truly do something so incredible that it would be genuinely unwise and unhealthy to contain your excitement. So you release all your energy into one perfect high five.

It’s an act of complete euphoria, an intense expression of unadulterated joy.

To pull off the “Sweet Emotion”, you and your kid need to be so in each other’s head that you can tell that spontaneous five is coming before it even happens.

And whether it’s your favorite team winning or your kid nailing a jumper in the backyard, there’s no better way to savor the sweet taste of victory.

The “Crowd Work” High-Five

This could come in handy the next time you bust out an unexpectedly great zinger while other people are around. Like any good NBA player, you know the best way to celebrate your triumph is to share it with the people who were with you along the way. So get out there and bask in the glory. This is particularly adorable when a kid knows how to do it properly during a game.

The more people you can incorporate, the better.

You can combine “Crowd Work” with “Stay Cool” to really show how seriously you take your craft.

If you’re really good, you could even get your opponent in on it.

The “Pre Planned” Shake

There are few things in life better than an awesome, intricate handshake that only you and another person share. These involve a lot of planning and practicing but once you have them down, you are immediately the two coolest people in any given room.

If you have trouble coming up with moves to incorporate into your special shake, take some notes from the NBA handshake legends. Like James Harden, who perfectly demonstrates why a handshake doesn’t just have to involve hands. He works the wrist, shoulders, and chest into his pregame greeting.

If you are looking to go big with your handshake, there’s no better teacher than Russell Westbrook. He has what appears to be an infinite amount of moves up his sleeve, all of which you can study and eventually replicate. It’s all in the confidence.

Sometimes, a truly great handshake turns into a game of charades, so just pick some activities you love to do and mimic the hell out of em.

You can finally choreograph that epic fight scene you’ve spent your whole life dreaming about.

And, of course, never forget a handshake is only as good as its finish.

The “Group Project” Shake

But what about the dad who has more than one kid and wants them all to partake in this holy ritual? Don’t you worry, NBA players are very familiar with creating a handshake for a whole group.

Typically, you are going to want to pick one person who takes the lead, that way you minimize confusion and reduce your risk of mistakes.

Give each kid their own unique twist, that way it still feels personal even with everyone being involved.

The “Fail Fives”

This is something you should avoid at all costs. That dreaded moment where you reach out for a five or shake and find that your partner is on an entirely different wavelength. It’s like watching a car crash in slow motion.

Perhaps one of you was going for the five while the other thought the fist bump was the right move.

Maybe you are trying to pull off something elaborate without planning in advance.

No matter the reason, those days are behind you. Welcome to the wonderful world of handshakes, high fives, and a whole lot of dabbing.

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