Why Do Basketball Players Slap The Floor? Some Interesting Answers

Why Do Basketball Players Slap The Floor

Key takeaway: The tradition of basketball players slapping the floor was initiated by Duke Basketball's head coach, Mike Krzyzewski, in the 1980s as a symbol of intense defense and unity. It has evolved into a cultural tradition for the team, signifying the need for increased intensity, morale, and unity in the game.

“The tradition of players slapping the floor was invented by Duke Basketball team’s head coach, Mike Krzyzewski. It symbolizes the intensity of the game and unites the defense according to official sources of Duke team’s management.”


You might have heard about a weird innovation in college basketball games these days, i.e., “Slapping the floor”.

Although this gesture is more specific to only one NCAA team, “Duke Blue Devils” it is now evolving with time.

So, if you are curious about “Why do basketball players slap the floor”, then here is the simple answer:

“They do it to increase the intensity of the game or when they get a stop.”

Apart from that, if you are interested in how this “floor slap” thing started, then let us discuss it, without any further ado:

Background of Floor Slapping in Basketball

The tradition started back in 1980 when Mike Krzyzewski returned to Duke Blue Devils as a head coach and turned it into a basketball powerhouse.

As per his words in an interview from 2015, “Tommy Amaker and some other guys did it back in 86 and it was not orchestrated but a spontaneous reaction to make the game more interesting.”

What started as a spontaneous reaction from Duke became their identity and the basketball team now does it in a more unified manner to smack the floor during the game.

Floor Slapping Incident of Duke Against Syracuse

What started as a spontaneous gesture turned into a basketball culture when Duke smacked the floor while playing against Syracuse.

Not only that, they did while forming a zone defense and it made things worse from here.

The former Blue Devils player and the then commentator of the game Grant Hill provoked Duke players with the following words, “Could you do that in the playing zone?”

Anyways, the game resulted in a win for Duke, and later on, Allan (main player for Duke) defended his teammates while saying, “Yeah, you can do the floor smacking in the playing zone, but it symbolizes getting a stop rather than forming a man-to-man defense.”

That is how all the drama of basketball players slapping the floor started and is now evolving into new forms.

Duke’s Choreographic Celebration

Back in 2015, when Duke won the national championship, the team organized with a choreographed floor smacking performance.

Obviously, they did it to celebrate the title against one of their rivals, Georgia Tech.

But, that’s not the end!

Other players from the same team have different opinions on how floor slapping works for them.

What did Quin Cook say About Floor Slapping?

Quin Cook, the point guard of Duke Blue Devils elaborates floor slapping with following words, “We do that when we need a stop or we think that the game is not going our way or when there comes a breaking point.”

So, apart from the intensity and stop thing, one could say that basketball players do floor slapping when their team is not performing up to the mark.

Floor Slap – A Gesture Used by Opponent’s Team

Well, things get interesting when opponent teams use the same tactics against Duke.

What they do is that they slap the floor not to increase the intensity or anything but they do so when Duke is not leading the scoresheet.

So, it’s kind of a slap pointed right at Duke’s Basketball team. However, it does not change the fact that Duke has been doing this practice since 1980s.

This gesture started by their coach, work out well for the team to increase its spirit and boost its morale and that is the main reason this culture goes on in Duke Blue Devils.

Why Does the Mike Krzyzewski Give Importance to Floor Slap?

Although after college basketball, players mostly join NBA and they have to leave this environment, coaches like Mike Krzyzewski have to maintain the intensity of the game.

He has been preaching the art of floor smacking to Duke athletes to keep his tactics and techniques unique enough.

That is one of the reasons Mike has been successful for more than 3 decades and has won many accolades for the team during his tenure.

Not only that, but such tweaks from the head coach allow the taller basketball players to perform more like a one-team unit.

That is how Mike enjoys coaching Duke Blue Devils with all zest and zeal.

Tactics of Mike Krzyzewski to Keep Duke on Winning Track

One of the major reasons Mike has expanded his career at Duke Blue Devils is that he has been evolving his tactics to preach to his athletes.

In doing so, he has become quite unpredictable for the opponent’s team and, therefore, he has landed 4 championship trophies for the Duke basketball team in NCAA.

Although he is not too proud of this floor smacking practice, especially in the defensive zone, he is more of the idea that a floor slap must grow for it to survive.

What Steve Wojciechowski Thinks About Floor Slapping

Being one of the advocates of floor slapping in the mid-90s era, the point guard for Duke at that time, i.e., Steve Wojciechowski does not appreciate the modern gesture.

Appointed by Marquette as a head coach, Steve is of the view that, “It was not a norm for 5 guys to do the floor slapping at once.” According to him, “It had to be orchestrated a little bit more than what we see in this modern era.”

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Who invented the floor slapping practice in basketball?

Floor slapping was invented back in the 1980s when Mike Krzyzewski was the head coach of Duke Blue Devils basketball team. According to the coach’s remarks, this smacking reaction was spontaneous, however, it later changed to a cultural tradition and is still being preached in Duke basketball camps.

2. What does floor slapping means in basketball?

For Duke basketball team, it’s a means to get a stop or to enhance the morale while the team is at a setback. They do this gesture to increase the intensity of the game. On the contrary, some opponent teams also repeat this gesture, but they do so to get back at Duke whenever the team is lagging behind.

3. Is floor slapping common in NBA basketball?

Floor slapping is mostly related to College basketball and only to specific teams, i.e. Duke Blue Devils. You will not see this practice, especially in professional NBA basketball. Word is that if a player does it, he will get penalized while playing in NBA or FIBA games.

The Final Word: Why Do Basketball Players Slap the Floor?

As things said, we know for sure that this basketball floor slapping thing was totally spontaneous from Duke Blue Devils.

However, they got fond of this gesture and now they do it either to increase the intensity, get a stop, or when things are not going their way.

Opponent teams could also do the same floor smacking thing against Duke to rattle them. But, the tradition goes on and Mike Krzyzewski has been adamant about preaching it to the young Duke athletes.

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