E.S.P. does not stand for Extra Sensory Perception when you’re talking about basketball. It stands for External Signs of Passivity.
Ask a Police Officer and you’ll find that when a person has their palms up, it’s a sign that they are not a threat – it’s an External Sign of Passivity. If their palms are down, then more times than not, they ARE a threat!
Humans know this instinctively and yes, contrary to what some will say, referees ARE human.
When you are guarding the ball, whether the ballhandler is standing still or dribbling, you are less likely to get a foul called on you if your palms are UP.
If you swipe with your palms down, even if you get ALL of the ball, that’s interpreted, instinctively, as an external sign of aggression – and you’ll get a whistle!
Dig on the ball with your palms up (which means your swipe is going up and not down) and you’re much less likely to receive a whistle!