What Is a ‘Heat Check’ in Basketball?

You’ve probably heard the term thrown around the court before. However, many basketball fans and newcomers might not know what it means yet.

If you’re reading this article, you’re probably curious: what does ‘heat check’ mean in basketball lingo? Where did the term come from? So, let’s get you some answers.

What Is a Heat Check?

You know when you are watching the game, and there is that one player on the team who is just on fire?

They make shot after shot like it is just another practice game. These shots are deliberate, smooth, and essentially safe.

Think back to Stephen Curry or Lebron James hitting three-pointers over and over again. The heat check comes into play when the player in question takes a riskier or more complicated shot.

For example, they shoot from a much greater distance or from a tight spot. However, something urges them to take the plunge.

At least, the crowd seems to agree with them. Plus, their previous successes built up their confidence. So, the player takes a more challenging shot to check if they’re still “hot”. Hence the term “heat check”. 

Sometimes the shot is successful, and sometimes it is not. Most of the time, though, it does not even matter because it is just so awesome to watch!

If it connects, it will result in an eruption with the audience. Needles to say, it will boost the player’s heat factor even more so. The crowd loves this, and so do the players.

This is why there is so much excitement surrounding a heat check. It’s important for both the players and the crowd.

You can watch some of the greatest heat checks in NBA history here.

What Is Heat Check Time?

Ever hear the announcer yell out “Heat Check Time!” during a game?

Want to know what that means?

Well, if a player has made three successful shots in a row, he has entered heat check time.

Naturally, everyone expects something even grander very soon.

The player’s teammates also partake in this by creating further scoring opportunities. In addition, if that player is often in possession of the ball during heat check time, it won’t count as hogging. They are just trying to continue their hot streak, as is their right!

Basically, the phrase is a just general reference to when a heat check should occur.

Also, the game rules don’t detail for how long one heat check lasts. In any case, once a player is on fire, the other team is sure to take notice.

Hence, they’ll double down on defense. All that adds to the anticipation for the player’s next move. This makes a heat check even more exciting when it happens. 

Is a Player Obligated to Take a Heat Check?

No, they are not.

Heat checks do not always occur once a player reaches “hot” status. Whether a player takes a heat check or not is totally up to them. Sometimes a player will keep making the safe shots because it maintains their player stats. 

Or maybe, the game’s fate hangs in the balance, and they want to guarantee a win for their team. It all depends on the player’s preference. If they feel confident enough and want to take a heat check, then you can bet they will. 

heat check

Similarly, they can keep making the easy shots and build a steady lead on their opponents.

Coaches don’t like it if their players take too many heat checks in a game where their team is trailing in points. There’s still a game to win at the end of the day. The best players read the game and act accordingly. 

So, there is no obligation involved. The game doesn’t necessarily need heat checks. When they do happen, though, it is a treat for everyone watching. Especially when it comes to a last-minute nail-biting shot. 

Is the Term Heat Check Used Outside of Sports?

Unsurprisingly, the term heat check has made its way out of basketball and into our daily lives. People can perform heat checks daily when they feel things are going their way.

They might be having a bit of a good run and decide to test their luck, as it were. 

Venture capitalists even use it as a business term now. After a successful run of investments, they might take a heat check to confirm that they’re still on a roll.

Sometimes, the term heat check carries romantic connotations, like checking if someone is interested in you romantically. In other words, it’s the period when a budding relationship might turn into something more. 

Just like in basketball, though, not all heat checks are successful.

Unfortunately, there’s no crowd cheering you on when an attempt to try your luck fails. So, just remember to hold your chin up and keep going if your heat check is unsuccessful.

After all, successes and failures are equal parts of life.

Final Thoughts

A heat check is essentially the shot that a basketball player takes when they have already made a string of precise throws.

It is often a more difficult shot either because of their position on the court or the defenders they are facing. They are testing if their heat streak is still ongoing. 

Heat checks aren’t really necessary in a game; they just make a basketball match more fun. Now you know what a heat check is in basketball - and even outside of basketball! 

Joshua Bast

My name is Joshua Bast and I have been playing basketball ever since I was 7 years old. I love the game play, I love the feeling whenever I score a basket, but what made me fell in love was the camaraderie with my team mates. This blog is dedicated to help any up-and-coming basketball players maximize their potential.

Joshua Bast