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High 5’s And Fist Pumps

Did you know that the more touch that happens between players, the more likely they are to play well?

In a study conducted at UC Berkeley, the amount and type of touch that occurred between players was analysed for all 30 NBA teams in an early round game of the 2008-2009 season. The researchers found that the more touch that occurred between players, the higher up the points table the team placed come the end of season. So in short…the players and teams who touched the most, performed the best. Why is this?

Physical touch promotes cooperation between people, communicates emotions, calms people in times of stress and increases trust, which of course are all so vital in a team sport.

We as coaches understand the importance of creating a culture of trust, where people feel belonging. This study highlights that touch is a powerful enabler of trust. So how can we encourage more (appropriate of course) touch between players? You could start with high 5’s at the start of practice or between games / activities, end of practice, a team handshake? Maybe the players could come up with some ideas?

Reference: Kraus, M. W., Huang, C., & Keltner, D. (2010). Tactile communication, cooperation, and performance: An ethological study of the NBA. Emotion, 10(5), 745–749.


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