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History Of The High Five - Who Started It, Why And How You Can Perfect It

Updated on May 20, 2009
The high five has a deep history in sports, where it's still very popular
The high five has a deep history in sports, where it's still very popular

Gimme A High Five! -- The History

With the extreme popularity of the high five in today's society, it's almost hard to believe that there was a time when people weren't giving them out to each other. But, according to the history of the high five the super gesture that keeps on giving hasn't really been around that long. It's even been said that the first high five was given out in a 1977 Los Angeles Dodgers game between Dusty Baker and Glen Burke as a way to celebrate Baker's home run.

After this initial sighting in the wild of the high five in 1977, it took Derek Smith, a player on the 1980 Lousiville Cardinals basketball team to coin the actual term 'high five', which the team used all throughout the season as a way to congratulate one another. After the Cardinals began to use the high five, more and more sports teams began to substitute the high five in for other popular celebratory gestures of the time, such as a pat on the back or the behind.

As you can probably guess, it didn't take long for the high five to make it's way all across the sports scene and into the daily lives of every other American who wanted a new and interesting way to congratulate or say hello to their friends, co-workers and family. The high five is here to stay and can be seen in more places and situations than ever before in history -- long live the high five!

The Fundamentals Of A High Five

Even though the high five seems like a fairly easy gesture to master, there are still many, many people who take giving a high five for granted, which results in the always embarrassing 'whiff'. When high fiving another person, you should be sure to keep these tips in mind so that you have a basic understanding of the high five fundamentals:

  • Eye contact is key when you are approaching the high five, but not for the entire process. A simple raising of the arm is encouraged as well so that your intentions are clear.
  • As you move into the high five and the other person involved had made eye contact with you and has also raised their arm in preparation for contact, take your focus off of their eyes and focus on their elbow. This may seem awkward, but will greatly increase your chance of solid contact.
  • Depending on the situation, use your best judgement on the proper amount of force used for the high five. All high fives are not the same and if you give an unsuspecting boss or co-worker a forceful high five for a great-looking TPS report, then you might not get the good reaction that you're looking for.
  • After contact and once again depending on the situation, an occasional scream or yell may be appropriate. Just be careful, a simple 'yeah, man!' or 'that's what I'm talkin' about!' might work better for some situations over others. Don't worry, you'll get a feel for it as you begin to give out more and more high fives.
  • If for some reason you do 'whiff' the high five, you have two basic plans of action: 1. Laugh it off and take it on the chin. 2. Go in for another high five as a way to fix your last lame attempt. Let me just say that sometimes it's best to let it be. Making a fool out of yourself once is OK, but doing it twice is just downright embarrassing.

After you get the fundamentals of the high five down, don't ever be afraid to pull it out at any time. The bar, the gym, the office or just randomly on the street -- no matter where you try to give a high five most people will happily reciprocate the gesture with a raised arm and a smile.

History of the High Five Mockumentary


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    • profile image

      gerlinde el asmar 

      4 years ago

      high five makes me happy i'm an older person . still at makes me happy. loved you will liket to. try

    • electricsky profile image


      8 years ago from North Georgia

      High fivers are usually happy.

      But how could a person mess up a high five?

    • Anamika S profile image

      Anamika S Jain 

      9 years ago from Mumbai - Maharashtra, India

      Excellent Hub! Learned something new. Keep it up!

    • Triplet Mom profile image

      Triplet Mom 

      9 years ago from West Coast

      Love it!! I used to high five now I just give dap cause that's how I roll.

    • lxxy profile image


      9 years ago from Beneath, Between, Beyond

      Friggin' awesome, man. Love the pix. Funny shtuff.

      Me, I'm onwards to the knuckle bump. 'cuz I'm str8 outta Lynwood, yo.

    • Hup Challenge profile imageAUTHOR

      Hup Challenge 

      9 years ago

      Maybe I should do a whole hand gestures series? haha

    • waynet profile image

      Wayne Tully 

      9 years ago from Hull City United Kingdom

      Great stuff! next the five knuckle shuffle...who started that??!!!!

    • Uninvited Writer profile image

      Susan Keeping 

      9 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

      Excellent! How about one on the fist bump :)


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