Why Do Basketball Players Block Shots After the Whistle?

Basketball is a game that can fascinate you as a spectator, particularly when it comes to some of the mannerisms that players exhibit whilst they’re out there competing on court.

The sport is certainly no stranger to the certain oddities that occasionally make their way into match highlights.

With that said, have you ever watched a basketball game and noticed a player swatting at the ball long after the referee’s whistle has blown?

Well, at first glance it might seem like strange behavior, but there’s actually a logical explanation for it.

In this article, we’ll be explaining the motive players have when they habitually block shots after the sound of the official game whistle.

Let’s start by kicking things off with a quick answer…

Basketball players, particularly those in the NBA, are notorious for blocking shots after the whistle. This is because they don’t want the shooter to establish any sort of attacking rhythm or gain additional confidence to their play, which they can derive from making successful baskets during the game.

Sit back and read the rest of the article to get the in-depth explanation.

Why do NBA players always block shots after the whistle?

We’re now going to cover each reason in turn.

For starters, we have…

1. Psychological exploitation

The mental side of basketball is arguably just as important as having strength, speed and explosive jumping power on the court.

In order to gain a sort of psychological advantage, players block the shots of opponents after the whistle has gone.

It’s seen as a way of getting inside of the opponent’s head, because if you don’t let the other team’s shots fall through the basket, you’re able to implant the thought in their mind that making a shot on target is exceedingly difficult.

why basketball players block shots after the whistle - psychological exploitation

A perfect example is the former NBA professional basketball legend Kevin Garnett.

Garnett was a player that played with passion, fought, and talked a lot of trash.

Some may claim he was insane when he played; his intensity was often too much to bear.

Garnett really enjoyed blocking his opponents’ shots after the whistle.

He did this to “get into the skin and heads” of his opponents, shaking their confidence in the process.

Another former American basketball player – Paul Pierce – had this to say about Mr. Garnett’s tricks:

“It was annoying when I didn’t play with Kevin. He doesn’t want to let them get that free opportunity, so that’s why he always does it.”

Source – The Oklahoman

Have a look at this legendary footage to see how he did this:

2. Muscle memory

Muscle memory allows athletes to perform motor functions faster and with greater accuracy, all while without having to think about them.

For example, muscle memory lets boxers and martial artists move quickly to evade their opponent without requiring extra time to consciously react.

Muscle memory also allows dancers and gymnasts to perform spins and other physical feats without losing their balance.

According to a study done by the University of Oxford, even the most basic daily motions involve a complex sequence of tensing and relaxing several muscles.

We have had repeated practice for the majority of these movements throughout our lives, so they can be executed faster, more smoothly, and more accurately.

With consistent practice, movements as complex as riding a bike, knitting, or even playing a melody on a musical instrument can become nearly automatic and thoughtless.

One reason that players may continue to block shots after the whistle is due to muscle memory.

why basketball players block shots after the whistle - muscle memory

Basketball players spend countless hours practicing and perfecting their skills, including their defensive techniques.

This repetition leads to muscle memory, which is the ability of the muscles to automatically perform certain actions without conscious thought.

When a player is in the heat of the game and reacting to the action on the court, their muscles are likely operating on memory.

So, even if the whistle blows and even though the game is over, their muscles may still complete the action of blocking the shot as a habit.

3. Maintaining focus and discipline

Another reason that players may block shots after the whistle is to maintain their focus and discipline.

why basketball players block shots after the whistle - focus and discipline

When a player is on the court, they are expected to give 100% effort level on every play.

This means not letting their guard down or getting complacent even when the whistle blows.

Blocking a shot after the whistle can be a way for a player to stay sharp and keen, especially when their level of defensive intensity is high.

It can also send a message to their teammates and opponents that they are always ready to make a play.

4. Exploiting the goal-tending rule

To understand this term, we need to first define goaltending.

Goaltending is not a penalty.

This is a basketball rule infraction.

When a player interferes with the ball after it has been released, the goalie infraction occurs, according to the official NBA rule book.

When the ball is on its path to the rim, a player cannot interfere with its trajectory.

When the ball is rolling or sitting around the rim, no players are allowed to interfere with its movement whatsoever.

The attacking player will be called for basket interference if he touches it.

If a defensive player interferes with it, he will also be called for goaltending.

So, why is blocking shots after the whistle not considered goaltending?

Because it’s not a shooting violation.

A non-shooting foul occurs when the referee’s whistle blows before the player releases the ball.

If a basketball player decides to shoot after the whistle, defensive players near the basket can block the shot if they are aware it is a non-shooting foul.

There are no rules in the aforementioned handbook that state that a player cannot block a shot after the whistle has been blown.

And this is why many NBA players tend to use these tricks at any opportunity, especially because the competitive margins in a sport like basketball are so miniscule.

5. Showing respect for the opposition

In some cases, players may block shots after the whistle out of respect for the opposition and the game of basketball itself.

why basketball players block shots after the whistle - showing respect for the opposition

Can you imagine a situation where a player decided not to block an opponent shot after the whistle went?

The opposing player would probably feel that the person marking him had little to no regard for their level of ability, especially when it comes to shooting.

In such an instance, an opponent may even take offence that the player in question didn’t do all he can to prevent the shot.

Ultimately, the sport requires a certain level of dedication and effort, and some players may feel that letting their guard down during a game shows a lack of respect for the game itself.

By continuing to play hard and make defensive plays even after the whistle, a player can demonstrate their appreciation for the sport and their commitment.

Can you block a shot after the whistle in basketball?

Yes you can.

This is because of the fact that even after the whistle is blown, the shot is still considered live.

Managing to execute a clean block after the referee sounds his whistle is considered as a smart defensive play as it prevents the opponent chalking up points on the scoreboard.

Here are a couple of examples of players in the NBA doing this on court:

Final thoughts

In summary, there are several reasons why basketball players may block shots after the whistle.

Whether it is due to muscle memory, maintaining focus and discipline, gaining a psychological advantage or simply showing respect for the game, this behavior is a common part of the sport.

So, next time you see a player swatting at the ball after the whistle, just remember that there may be more to it than meets the eye.

I hope you’ve also learned a new strategy to enter inside your opponent’s heads.

Anyway, if you’ve enjoyed reading through this post, then you’d probably like to trawl through similar pieces of content on our website which pertain to basketball players, such as:

About Samuel Waihenya

Samuel is an avid fan of basketball and has been following the sport for over 10 years. He now intends to dedicate his time to produce great content for his own little basketball blog that aims to help its readership with whatever basketball-related topic they can think of. Have a read through Samuel Waihenya's author bio page here.