In the same way a stylish belt or cute handbag is essential to complete an outfit, the fist pump is an essential accessory for any great athlete. The quality of the fist pump can make or break an athlete, or at least, my opinion of one.
In order to rate the best and worst, I have come up with a list of criteria to determine what constitutes a quality fist pump.
Here is the list:
•physicality of the motion
Okay, let's begin with the rankings.
No. 1, Tiger Woods
Coming in at No. 1, we have Tiger Woods. Seriously, did anyone doubt his position as the best fist pumper of all time?
Tiger's bicep muscle is about to explode out of his sleeve. His facial expression says it all. Clearly, Tiger just made a crucial putt. Therefore, his fist pump is genuine and will ignite a roaring reaction from the crowd.
Here, Tiger is a bit more reserved. The moment does not call for all the hoopla of his bigger pumps. Nevertheless, he still has something to celebrate.
One of Tiger's best fist pumps. His whole body is into it and it looks like he is about to toss a javelin or shoot a bow and arrow. The picture was taken in the middle of the action. The buildup before the actual pump. I could imagine this as a sculpture of an Olympic God—enough said.
This is an example of the double fist pump where both arms get involved in the action. Here, Tiger seems more concerned with pumping himself up and less concerned with the crowd. I wouldn't mess with that.
Tiger brings his arm up high and then lays into the air like a hammer. This downward motion of the pump gets the crowd riled up and is only used in big time situations. Tiger sinking a difficult putt for the win??? Very likely.
Tiger broke the mold on this one. On March 17, 2008 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational Tiger sunk a 31 foot putt to clinch the victory, giving him his fifth straight tour win and his seventh win in eight starts. I don't think this requires much explanation. Just look at the picture.
Okay, I could probably find more Tiger fist pumps to breakdown and analyze, but I think you get the point. Tiger is the best because he has come up with a variety of pumps for all different situations. He gets his whole body into it, along with the crowd, and simply put, he is the greatest. No contest.
No. 2, Rafael Nadal
This Spanish sensation is built like a Greek God. His fist pumps are often accompanied with a loud cry of "Vamos!" which is Spanish for "Let's go!"
Nadal often employs the double fist pump. Look at the impressive balancing skills Nadal is using to perform the pump. His knees are bent forward and he is leaning backwards. His whole body is revved up and the crowd is into it as well.
Here, Nadal is doing a single pump with his arm, but he also includes his leg in the action. Look at his mouth, wide open in a clear exclamation of excitement. Another quality fist pump.
This is probably the most reserved Nadal will get with a fist pump. A classy, at the side, fist pump to keep the momentum going. You can see the focus on his face and the beautiful right angle he forms with his flexed arm.
No. 3, Kirk Gibson
As far as the world of fist pumps is concerned, Kirk Gibson is a one-time wonder. However, his one time is so special that it deserves mention. Gibson hit a walk off home run in the opening game of the 1988 World Series.
The Dodgers went on to win the World Series in five games over the Oakland A's. But back to Gibson. He spent most of the game in the locker room. Then, in the bottom of the ninth with his team down 4-3 and a man on first, he was called up to the plate. Gibson could barely walk, but with one swing of the bat he regained his stride.
Rounding the bases after hitting his game winning home run, Gibson employed The Conductor fist pump. Like a train conductor signaling oncoming movement, Gibson's fist pump signaled his place in history.
No. 4, Roger Federer
Honestly I don't like the guy, but I can admit he has a quality fist pump.
Roger stays pretty composed during matches, so when he uses the fist pump you know it must be a big point. Here, Roger goes for The Double Pump. His knees are bent and his back is arched. The whole body is involved in the action. Plus, his mouth is wide open and his eyes are closed. This fist pump will get the crowd excited, but is clearly a way to pump up Roger after some flashy play.
I have mixed opinions about this picture. Clearly, it is a powerful fist pump, but Roger's face is a bit frightening. However, I can recognize the strength and control of the fist pump, so it is still quality.
No. 5, Anthony Kim
Kim is an up and comer in the world of fist pumps. You may not know him, but you should. He helped lead the U.S. to its first Ryder Cup victory in nine years.
A variation on The Hammer.
Anthony Kim has some work to do, but he has potential to move up on the list. He gets all his weight behind the pump as he "throws down the hammer." His face expresses exuberance after making the putt. Lookin' good.
The Bad and the Downright Ugly
Now it is time to turn to the bad and the downright ugly. Topping off the list, with no doubt in my mind, is Maria Sharapova. Sure her grunting on the court is annoying, but her lack of a quality fist pump drives me up the wall.
No. 1, Maria Sharapova
I'm sorry, I don't even know if I can call this is a fist pump. It looks more like Sharapova is hurled over in an extreme bout of constipation. As she winces in pain it is hard to wonder what there is to celebrate. However, this is a typical Sharapova fist pump. Awkward, awful, and ugly.
Okay, so at least this is better than the constipator, but not by much. The problem with Sharapova is that her fist pump sucks. She has no variety, arm extension, or genuine passion. Also, let's take a look at the two words that make up a fist pump.
Fist: Sharapova's fist is unnatural. A strong fist should be clenched. Sharapova's fist is just going along with the motions.
Pump: Sharapova has no pump in her motion. She just has her arm tucked at her side, constricted from creating any possible movement. No good.
No. 2, Padraig Harrington
He has improved his golf game, winning the 2008 British Open and PGA Championship. Now he needs to improve his fist pump.
The pump isn't nearly as awful as Sharapova's, but it is goofy and awkward. Harrington is flat-footed, almost immovable. His right arm is attempting the motion, while his left arm remains lax at his side. His teeth are clenched when his mouth should be open, like the more formidable fist pumpers.
Perhaps, he will find a better fist pump in a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
No. 3, Phil Mickelson
Phil suffers from pump problems similar to Sharapova's. It looks too forced, like he should fist pump, but he doesn't have any natural predilection to do so. His fist is barely clenched. His mouth is closed.
I realize this is one of the more reserved pumps, but it doesn't work. Sorry Phil, you actually have to show some genuine passion in your pumping if you want me to believe the sincerity of your action.
No. 4, Andy Roddick
Don't get me wrong, I like Andy. And honestly I thought he would have a good fist pump—that was until I did research for the article.
Umm, what? What is going on here? He has an awkward look on his face, like he doesn't know what is going on. Well, neither do I. His use of the fist pump is a mystery.
Now look at the arm placement. He doesn't have enough arm extension or strength in the motion. It is weak and without confidence—quite the opposite of a quality fist pump.
Overall, one might think this is a pretty good fist pump. And I guess it is. His mouth is open, expressing excitement over the big point. His fist is clenched and his arm has a nice extension. However, the problem lies in his right leg. What is it doing?
Hmm...I'm not sure. The placement of the right leg makes him seem off balance, like he is more ready to bowl a strike than pump up a crowd. Sorry Andy, but your fist pumping skills need some work.
No. 5, Ana Ivanovic
This Serbian star may have a nice tennis game, but her fist pump has problems.
We have seen Nadal perform a quality double leg/arm fist pump. Ivanovic, on the other hand, is not so good. Her right foot is turned in too far, making for some difficult balancing issues. She also suffers from the Sharapova syndrome.
These girls just don't get it. A fist pump needs motion and emotion. If you keep your arm tight at your side, then the fist pump has nowhere to go. Plus, her leg/arm pump combo just isn't working. Perhaps, if the left arm didn't look so awkward. She could take a lesson from Nadal.
Notice how Ana's fist is way too close to her face. It looks like she is about to punch herself. That should never be in question with a quality pump. Again, her left arm is way too constricted and tight at her side. The fist pump needs to extend beyond oneself and pump up the crowd as well.
Jimmy Connors, James Blake, Derek Jeter, Sergio Garcia, Jennifer Capriati, and Michael Jordan. They all have great fist pumps and could have easily made the list, but I am sticking with my guns on this one.
A quality fist pump is important for a number of reasons. Good fist pumpers exude confidence, give fans a reason to cheer, and most importantly they are winners. They find themselves on the cover of Sports Illustrated, Wheaties cereal boxes, and my rankings list.
Bad fist pumpers, on the other hand, are aggravating. If you can't do it right, then don't do it all. Please spare yourself the embarrassment and spare me the torture of watching such ineptitude.