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A extends his or her hands forward, roughly at arm's length, with the palms down. B's hand, also roughly at arm's length, are placed, palms up, under A's hands. The object of the game is for B to slap the back of A's hands before A can pull them away.
Once [B] misses, [his or] her hands go on the bottom and [A] attempts to slap [his or] her hands.
One player (the "slappee" [B]) places their hands palm down, hovering above the other player's (the "slapper" [A]) hands. The slapper hovers their hands below the slappee's, palms up. The two players' hands should be barely touching each other, and all the hands should be around mid-torso height.
The slapper is on offense, and attempts to bring his hands over to slap the backsides of his opponent's hands. This must be done with sufficient speed, because the slappee's goal is to pull their hands away, and out of the area where the hands overlap, to avoid the slap. If the slapper misses the hands of the slappee during the slap, then the roles switch.
The slappee is on defense, and attempts to avoid having his hands slapped, by pulling his hands away as the slapper brings his hands over to attempt a slap. However, the slappee cannot flinch too much in attempting to avoid a slap. (On one variation of the game, if the slappee pulls his hands away when the slapper has not brought his hands around, then the slappee must submit to a "free slap" by the slapper.)
Another variation is where the slappee has their hands held palms together, held out at mid-torso height; the slapper then does the same with the tips of the fingers of both players hands around a centimetre apart, and then (with just one of their hands) the slapper tries to slap the backs of the slappee's hands. You can slap the slappee's hands with just one of your hands as a strategical move.
Some have criticized the game for its perceived cruelty due to the potential for causing pain. The game may be played safely by having the person with their hands on bottom attempt to touch the hands on top.
- Hyun Seung Yang, Rainer Malaka, Junichi Hoshino, Jung Hyun Han; eds. (2010). Entertainment Computing - ICEC 2010, p.63. Springer. ISBN 9783642153990. "We are reminded of the schoolyard hand-slapping game known as 'Red Hands', which despite its painful consequences, is played in good fun and is often cause for laughter among its players."
- Jim Elliott, Lois Jean Brady, America X. Gonzalez (2011). Speech in Action: Interactive Activities Combining Speech Language Pathology and Adaptive Physical Education, p.65. Jessica Kingsley. ISBN 9780857005007.
- Rev. Abram Smythe Palmer (1882/1969). Folk-Etymology, p.180. Haskell House. ISBN 8383-0279-3. "Hot-hands, a children's game where the hands of the two player are struck together in a regular alternation."
- Jaggs, Peter (2015). 1970's Billericay Boy: Life before Thailand, p.35-6. Booksmango. ISBN 9781633233775.
- Wright, John (2006). Why is that So Funny?: A Practical Exploration of Physical Comedy, p.88. Hal Leonard. ISBN 9780879103439.
- Janine Tucker, Maryalice Yakutchik (2014). Women's Lacrosse: A Guide for Advanced Players and Coaches, p.155. JHU. ISBN 9781421413983.