The NBA has no shortage of uncommon habits and rituals. LeBron James, for instance, has a habit of throwing chalk into the air before matches. But one strange custom done by many players in the league is covering their mouths. But why do NBA players cover their mouths while they’re talking?
NBA players cover their mouths when they talk to prevent strategies and plays from leaking to opposing teams. It can also be a gesture when telling jokes among teammates.
Although it does look strange, NBA players covering their mouths isn’t rare in or out of the court. Continue reading to know more about why many basketball athletes in the league practice this habit.
Reasons NBA Players Cover Their Mouths When Talking
The reasons why NBA players cover their mouths when talking vary for each player and team. Here are some of the common ones.
Basketball, especially in the professional scene, is not a seemingly simple sport wherein players go back and forth, trying to get the ball into the ring. Although mostly seen as a physical activity, basketball also has psychological parts.
Devising strategies to gain the upper hand is a common occurrence for many basketball games. High school, college, professional, and even casual basketball games will have players huddle up around the benches, thinking of ways to outwit the opposing team.
However, you can never be too careful as an individual might know the art of lip-reading. This skill allows a person to understand speech without hearing the speaker’s voice. The listener or reader will look at the speaker’s lip movements and deduce what that individual is saying.
For example, Team A calls for a timeout to plan its next move. But a player from Team B can read lips, so his team can catch on to the plans of Team A for a turnover to happen. Once the timeout ends, Team B will already know what Team A is planning to do, allowing Team B to dominate the court while Team A’s players will have their mouths left open in wonder.
Aside from lip-reading, covering mouths while talking can also muffle the voice. One excellent example is, again, LeBron James, who covers his mouth with a towel when he’s talking on the benches. Muffling the voice can help reduce a person’s volume, thereby reducing the risks of prying ears from listening efficiently.
Players don’t only cover their mouths while formulating strategies during timeouts. After all, many basketball fans see NBA players placing their hands over their mouths while those athletes are on the court.
Again, preventing lip reading and muffling the voice play important roles in basketball, especially when a player is on the court. Keep in mind that strategies aren’t effective until the players execute the plans well. However, opposing players can catch onto those ideas if they see the other team mouthing plans with its members.
Additionally, muffling the voice is vital in a large and noisy arena. That way, opponents won’t have a clue as to what play a player is trying to call.
For instance, some popular plays, such as ‘Box’ or ‘Rabbit,’ is highly noticeable when spoken, even if you can’t hear the words. Try saying box or rabbit in front of a mirror without your voice. Notice that you understand the mouth movements immediately.
Remember, many NBA players like to think on their feet. These athletes tend to have hidden motives and are quick to focus on other players’ mouths when they speak. Therefore, it’s best for NBA players to cover their mouths while speaking, regardless if they’re on the court or sitting on the bench.
At its core, basketball is a sport. As such, like with other sports, players are there to have fun. Therefore, it’s to no one’s surprise that some NBA players like to crack jokes while they’re in or out of the court.
But what does telling jokes have to do with covering mouths?
Some people cover their mouths when they laugh because they don’t want to show their bad or crooked teeth. Certain examples include Kent Bazemore, Josh Childress, and Stephen Curry. Some of these players are confident at strutting their basketball stuff, but it’s another story when they’re talking about their teeth. Thus, hiding their not-pearly-whites with their hands when they laugh became a natural habit for these athletes.
Proper Hygiene Etiquette
Some people, which doesn’t include NBA players, won’t realize they’re spitting when they’re talking. These instances can also happen unknowingly, especially for the ‘culprit.’ The individual who spat will only realize it when the receiver of the saliva will react to the bodily liquid.
However, harmful bacteria can transfer quickly through saliva and spit. Many illnesses and viruses can transfer rapidly through spitting, regardless if the act is intentional or unintentional.
For NBA teams, each player has a role, and losing one member can cripple performances. As such, prevention is better than cure, and what better way to prevent diseases from spreading through spit than by covering mouths when talking?
Avoid the Media
It’s safe to say that it’s impossible to hide from the media during official NBA matches. Additionally, any foul remark coming from any player’s mouth can immediately go to the media’s attention, causing uproars in social and mass media.
Therefore, avoiding these blunders can be done with a simple mouth-covering gesture with the hand. NBA players can save themselves a lot of trouble, especially if they drop F-bombs accidentally.
Do Players from Other Sports Cover Their Mouths When They Speak?
Aside from basketball, soccer players also cover their mouths when they talk. The reasons for doing so are similar. Thus, soccer players cover their mouths so the opposition won’t understand plays and strategies or when the athletes are cracking jokes and they don’t want to show their teeth.
NBA players cover their mouths when they’re talking because they want to hide their plays and strategies. Additionally, these athletes do these gestures so they can hide their bad teeth or prevent the spread of harmful bacteria to their teammates. Finally, covering mouths can save players the trouble of getting a bad rap from the media. It might look like a simple action, but this straightforward act can become a lifesaver to NBA teams and players.