How to Be a Dad

How to Be a Dad

Performing a Proper High Five so You Too Can Be Cool

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How to Perform a Proper High Five and Survive the Process

High fives are part of a whole, wonderful family of interactive gestures that are important to relating to your fellow human beings or your offspring. And being cool.

I’ve been terrible at performing high fives and being cool all my life, so I took upon myself to research and develop a set of instructions for successfully “fiving,” minimizing the chance of being uncool with poor executions, or worse, completely “whiffing it” (swinging at empty air). Or even worserest, a trip to the ER to repair someone’s eye. Very uncool.

I’m focusing on a traditional high five here, but there are a wide variety; side fives, low fives, double windmill fives and, in Brazil, spinning back-hand fives, to name a few. We’ll leave explanations for those to people who play sports and listen to a lot of hiphop, though.

Here’s my quick, step-by-step on how to perform a decent high five:

1) Form your hand into flat surface.

Proper High Five Hand Position

This isn’t going to be a secret handshake between science fiction fans, so keep it a simple, flat hand. (Widely spread fingers can reduce the smacking sound and increase the risk of winding up with weirdly laced or sprained fingers.)

A more advanced method is to cup your hand slightly to create a louder clap, but remember, you’re reading instructions on how to high five; it’s probably best to master lightning before trying for thunder.

2) Recognize or declare that a high five is about to happen.

John Meyer Kanye West high five failJohn Meyer turns this failed five into a clumsy half-hug with Kanye West because he just didn’t take that second to see what was coming.

Jumping the gun and mistaking any old raised hand for an impending high five can leave you running an embarrassed hand through your hair or waving to someone you’re suddenly pretending to know.

On the flip side, hesitating too long can “leave them hanging” (an unanswered or refused high five). Super mega uncool.

If you are the one initiating it: make eye contact and hold up your hand in a clear declaration of intent. A slight nod from you may be necessary if the person in front of you seems at all uncertain or bewildered. (If you catch the fresh scent of fear-pee, smile very reassuringly.)

Declaring or Recognizing a High Five

NOTE: Having to shout “high five” or “gimme five” can be considered less cool, but it may be necessary when you know you’re working a beginner high-fiver, like a child or someone wearing plaid pants.

3) Be calm and ready to move in unison.

Spider-man high fiving Captain America Thor and the Hulk smashBe cool like Captain America and Thor. Don’t Hulk five someone.

Don’t panic. You’re not swatting a bee and this isn’t speed-arm-wrestling. A lurchy, uncertain swing will confuse your fiving partner, and swinging prematurely or overly hard can result in the inability for someone to use their smart phone properly for a while.

Don’t try to “win.” High fiving is always a mutual thing between high-fiver and high-fivee. You both win, or you both lose.

4) Aim for the elbow, not the hand.

Watching the incoming hand is most people’s instinct. But a deer’s first instinct is to freeze before oncoming traffic, so let’s go beyond instinct here and apply some geometry. Okay… let’s not. Just look at this picture and aim for their damned pivot point. Trust me it works.

Aim for the Elbow High Five Geometry

Even if your timing is horrible, you’re still likely to make some kind of contact with their elbow or arm. And take my word for it, that’s at least cooler than slapping their stomach or grazing their crotch.

5) Time it right and enjoy a properly performed high five!


Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson high five fist bump fail

You see? Even people who should already be proficient high-fivers could stand to perfect their technique.

Study and practice to become a skilled high-fiver, and pass it on to your kids so they’ll be cool, too. Avoid practicing on a mirror, though. It may seem like a good idea, but discovering how bad you are doesn’t need to involve shards of broken glass.

Follow us on Facebook. Liking our Facebook Page counts as a properly executed high five.

Fist Bumps
See how these cousins to the high five can be performed THROUGH THE FACEBOOK.

Instructional Diagrams Will also Teach You a Lot About Nothing Important
Important information is overrated.


7 Responses to “Performing a Proper High Five so You Too Can Be Cool”

  1. Laurie says:

    Very educational!

  2. Schmutzie says:

    Learning that I should aim for the elbow has saved me so many times. Oh, my earlier life of shame.

    • Andy says:

      I only learned it three months ago (hence this post and my entire life as an awkward uncool nerd who was a danger to himself and others when high fiving). 😉

  3. Jason says:

    The giggles just won’t stop.
    This reminded me one I saw here
    It’s the two hockey coaches, about the 11th down the page (they’re ALL freakin’ funny though).
    Thanks for the laugh,…needed it today.

    The Cheeky Daddy

  4. Kenny says:

    Hell. If this tutorial had been published months ago, I might have said hello to you in Houston. But without this guide, the pressure was just insurmountable.

    • Andy says:

      Ha ha! I chew my fingernails solely based on the prospect that tomorrow may bring a high five situation. If you’d tried in Houston, I would have wounded something. Good call, as the cool people say.

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