Watching televised sports, especially American Football and Basketball, it seems that whenever a player falls or is knocked down, he needs help getting back up. With football, it is somewhat understandable, since they wear pads that get in the way. But for a basketball player, it seems trivial to stand up, yet I often see players sit on the court until another player offers them a hand up.

Is there a reason for this? I understand that one reason might be a form of team camaraderie. But is there any other reason? Is it difficult for the downed player to stand on his own?

Edited to add

I understand the sportsmanship element in helping an opponent (or teammate) up.

But today I saw a college basketball player sitting on the court, long after most other players were moving on, waving at teammates to come over and give him a hand up. It wasn't an act of sportsmanship, it seemed more like he needed help simply to stand up (and no, he wasn't injured). I actually see this quite often and it always puzzles me.

As I said, I can understand it in football due to the pads they wear affecting mobility when on the ground, but that isn't present in basketball. I don't really watch any other sports, so I don't know if it is prevalent anywhere else.

6 Answers 6


You are over-thinking it. As someone who has played plenty of basketball, the 'reasons' are:

  • Sportsmanship
  • Saving energy
  • Convenience
  • Take a quick rest while there's a break in the action
  • No reason
  • Just making sure you're ok and not injured

None of these are because the player is incapable of standing up on his own (unless actually injured). More often than not, it's just a convenience thing or to get a quick little rest if you're fatigued. Actually, if you're talking about a player for the Heat or Clippers, disregard everything I just said...they flop and milk it like soccer players :)


Unless the player is injured, the player could physically get up on their own; if they couldn't, there is no way they would be in physical shape enough to play the game. Nearly every play in football, however, ends with someone laying down on the field. At the end of the play, the players still standing typically offer a hand to help the ones that are down, even if they are on the other team.

The reasons other players will lend a hand to help other players up are professionalism, courtesy, sportsmanship (for the players on the other team), and teamwork (for the players on his own team).

When a player helps someone up that they have just tackled, it is acknowledgement that they are both professionals doing a job, and that there are no hard feelings. Most professional players understand that, although they play on different teams, they are all coworkers, in a sense, and that your opponent this year might be your teammate next year.

That having been said, sometimes, especially in basketball, there is something else going on. Again, as with football, if a basketball player truly cannot get up off the floor on their own, they are not well enough to continue to play the game. Unfortunately, you sometimes see an element of theatrics in basketball. The player is trying to show that they have been fouled, and so they act hurt. They'll wave for help to try to draw sympathy, and then they will slam dunk the next ball they get. Basketball doesn't seem to have the "iron-man," "shake-it-off," "tough guy" culture that football has.


After you've been playing for a while, your body becomes pretty tired. It's easier to move with momentum on your side, but standing up and bringing all that weight up from the ground, especially toward the end of a game, can result in a pretty awkward-looking move. Im guessing that no elite athlete wants to be watched by tens of thousands of fans crawling up on his knees and then getting up on his own... And weary muscles don't always respond well in that situation. It helps to get a little boost.


You use your triceps and legs when shooting a basketball. Pushing yourself up when you're 200-300 lbs does have an impact on player's endurance and over time can lead to fatigue to the same muscle groups that are used for shooting.


I agree with all the reasons @A-D listed, but would also include that this is a way to disguise time-wasting. Yes, this happens in soccer quite a bit. By waiting for a teammate to pick them up a player to gets some rest while precious time ticks off the clock. Officials will generally allow it unless it's glaringly blatant that they're milking the time. This is particularly useful if a team has a marginal lead at the end of a game. Of course this mainly applies to soccer because the clock never stops, but in other sports this could be a way to kill an opponent's momentum. By slowing the game down it can chip away at a team's energy and cause frustration.

  • 1
    Although the clock in soccer never stops, "stoppage time" is usually added beyond regulation time in order to account for time-wasting events, so this shouldn't really affect the total playtime. Commented May 10, 2022 at 13:58
  • @NuclearHoagie True, but there have been plenty of debates and studies related to time-wasting and stoppage time. For example: We Timed Every Game. World Cup Stoppage Time Is Wildly Inaccurate. As much as referees say they take into account time from time-wasting events, the "effective playing time" is still well under 90 minutes. CIES study here.
    – OTStats
    Commented May 10, 2022 at 19:19

I am a football player and I will say it helps a lot to get the help especially toward the end of the game because we get hit really hard and sometimes we will strugle to get up on our own even when were not hurt.

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