Why Do Basketball Players Cut The Net? [Pro Player Reveals]

Many years ago, when I wasn’t a professional basketball player but just a small kid passionate about the game, I’ve been genuinely fascinated by the tradition of cutting the net.

There’s something special about watching players climb up the ladder and snip away at the mesh, the crowd roaring in approval. 

Quick Answer: Basketball players cut down the net as a celebratory tradition after winning a game or a tournament.

Later on, when I started my college and high school basketball journey in California, I had the chance of cutting the net more times than I could have ever imagined.

As I delved deeper into the history and psychology behind this ritual, I realized that cutting the net is more than just a celebration – it’s a powerful symbol of achievement and teamwork. 

And because many people ask “why do basketball players cut the net”, in this article, I’ll explore the various aspects of that action and why it matters so much to basketball players.

Let’s dive right in.


Why Do Basketball Players Cut the Net?

There are many reasons why basketball players cut the net, but the most obvious is to celebrate their victory. Cutting the net is a way for players to savor the moment, to bask in the glory of their accomplishment. 

basketball team celebrating a victory

It’s a tangible representation of their hard work and dedication, and a reminder of the sacrifices they made to get to this point. But cutting the net is also a way for players to commemorate the end of a journey. 

For most teams, the season is a long and grueling process, filled with ups and downs, injuries, and setbacks. Cutting the net is a way to mark the end of that journey, to acknowledge all the hard work and perseverance that went into the season.

This ritual is especially popular among NCAA tournament winners.

The History of Cutting the Net in Basketball

The origins of cutting the net can be traced back to the early days of basketball in the 1920s.

everett case cutting down the net

The tradition then spread throughout college basketball. The first documented act of net-cutting happened in 1947 when a college basketball coach from Indiana named Everett Case led his team “NC State Wolfpack” to a state championship. 

After the game, Case climbed up the ladder and cut down the net as a symbol of his team’s accomplishment. From that point on, cutting the net became a common practice in basketball, especially at the end of a championship game.

Over the years, cutting the net has become a cherished tradition in basketball, with players and coaches alike eagerly anticipating the opportunity to climb the ladder and snip away at the mesh. 

In many ways, cutting the net is the ultimate sign of victory, a clear representation of all the hard work and dedication that went into the season.

Significance of Cutting the Net for Basketball Players

For basketball players, cutting the net is more than just a symbolic act – it’s a prominent reminder of their success. When a player holds a piece of the net in their hands, they can feel the weight of their accomplishment. 

Ncaa Basketball GIF by NCAA March Madness - Find & Share on GIPHY

They know that they have achieved something special, something that few people get to experience. But cutting the net is also important for another reason – it’s a way for players to bond and celebrate together. 

When a team wins a championship, they are united in their victory, and cutting the net is a way to share that joy and camaraderie. It’s a moment that players will remember for the rest of their lives, a shared experience that will always connect them to their teammates.

To this day, I clearly remember the first time that my high school basketball team and I cut the net. We have just won a difficult playoff game, and cutting the bet felt better than holding the trophy.

Psychological Benefits of Cutting the Net

Cutting the net has a number of psychological benefits for basketball players. For one, it can boost their confidence and self-esteem. 

basketball and a crown

When a player cuts the net, they are reminded of their abilities and accomplishments, which can help them feel more confident both on and off the court.

Cutting the net can also help players feel more connected to their teammates. When a team wins a championship, the players are united in their victory, and cutting the net is a way for them to share in that experience. 

This sense of camaraderie can help players feel more supported and valued, which can have a positive impact on their mental health and well-being.

The Science Behind Cutting the Net

While cutting the net may seem like a purely emotional act, there is actually a scientific explanation for why it feels so good. 

According to research, the act of physically cutting something can activate the brain’s reward center, triggering the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward.

In addition, cutting the net can also activate the brain’s mirror neurons, which are responsible for empathy and social connection. When a player sees their teammates cutting the net, it can activate these mirror neurons, helping them feel more connected to their teammates and enhancing their sense of teamwork.

Cutting the Net as a Team-Building Exercise

Given the psychological and emotional benefits of cutting the net, it’s not surprising that some coaches have started using it as a team-building exercise.

basketball friends

By simulating the experience of cutting the net, coaches can help players feel more connected and united, which can have a positive impact on their performance.

One example of this is the “virtual net-cutting” exercise used by the Villanova men’s basketball team. In this exercise, players gather around a virtual net, and each player takes a turn cutting a piece of the mesh. 

The exercise is designed to help players feel more connected and to reinforce the team’s core values of hard work and perseverance. Furthermore, back in the 1980s, Jim Valvano, the head coach at NC State, had his players practice cutting down the nets to get them used to being victorious.

It paid off as Valvano’s Wolfpack, seeded 6th, went on to win the 1983 NCAA tournament despite the odds.

Popular Examples Of Net-Cutting

Arguably, the most popular example of a famous player cutting the net involves his Airness himself. 

micahel jordan cuts down the net

Michael Jordan, who led the North Carolina Tarheels to an NCAA title, was seen cutting down the net to commemorate his only NCAA title while at UNC.

Another more recent example is from 2018 when the Villanova players cut down the net after beating Michigan in the NCAA National Championship.

Check out the video below.

Cutting the Net in Other Sports and Cultures

While cutting the net is most commonly associated with basketball, it is also practiced in other sports and cultures. In soccer, for example, it is common for players to cut off a piece of the net after winning a championship game. 

In some cultures, cutting the net is a symbolic act of cutting ties with the past and moving forward into the future.

The Future of Cutting the Net

As basketball continues to evolve, it’s possible that the tradition of cutting the net may change as well. 

a quote

Some coaches and players have expressed concern that the practice has become too commercialized, with sponsors and advertisers using the moment to promote their products.

In 2008, Werner Co., a company that produces ladders, started their sponsorship of the NCAA tournament and provided all the ladders necessary for cutting down the championship nets.

However, it’s unlikely that cutting the net will disappear completely. The tradition is too deeply ingrained in basketball culture, and players and coaches alike value the emotional and psychological benefits it provides.

Controversies Surrounding Cutting the Net

Despite its widespread popularity, cutting the net is not without controversy. Some critics have argued that the practice is wasteful, as the nets are often discarded after the game. Others have raised concerns about safety, as players climbing ladders to cut the net can be at risk of injury.

However, most players and coaches view cutting the net as a harmless and meaningful tradition, and few are likely to give it up anytime soon.

Wrapping Things Up

To sum it up, cutting the net is more than just a celebration for basketball players – it’s a powerful symbol of achievement and teamwork.

Whether it’s done after a championship game or as a team-building exercise, cutting the net can provide players with a sense of accomplishment, connection, and camaraderie. 

While the tradition may face some controversy and challenges in the future, it’s clear that cutting the net will continue to be a cherished and meaningful tradition in high school and NCAA basketball and beyond.


Why do they cut the net down in basketball?

The tradition of cutting down basketball nets primarily began as a way for college and high school basketball teams to commemorate their achievements and have a piece of the court as a keepsake.

Who started the cutting of the nets?

Coach Everett Case started the tradition when the North Carolina State Wolfpack won the Southern Conference title in 1947, and their head coach, Everett Case, wanted a souvenir to commemorate the win. Eventually, the tradition spread to women’s college basketball tournaments and high school basketball programs across the country. NBA teams, however, do not participate in this tradition.

How do you cut down a basketball net?

To cut down a basketball net, you will need a ladder, a pair of scissors or a knife, and someone to hold the ladder steady. First, climb up the ladder and use the scissors or knife to cut the net from the rim of the basketball hoop. If you want to keep the net as a memento, make sure to cut it carefully so that it doesn’t tear. Another option is to cut the net down at the base of the pole and file down the metal pole so that there are no sharp edges. However, this may leave behind an unsightly stump, so it’s best to cut the net at the rim if you want to preserve it as a keepsake. Remember to always take safety precautions when cutting down a basketball net and to check for buried utilities before digging.

Do NBA Teams Cut The Net?

No, NBA teams don’t cut down the net. This tradition is common among high school and NCAA teams.

Who gets to cut the net in basketball?

The tradition of cutting down basketball nets is usually reserved for the winning team’s coach and players. Generally, the coach is the first to cut the net, followed by the players, ordered by seniority.


Wikipedia – Cutting Down The Nets

As.com –  Why does the winning team cut the net of the basket? The NCAA tradition explained

NCAA.com – Why basketball teams cut down the nets


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