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The Power of the High Five


A simple touch can mean so much


One of more entertaining pre-game sights in the NBA is the variety of handshakes and fist bumps that we see during player introductions. Beyond just fun and games, some teams have began paying attention to indices of physical contact after a University of California, Berkeley study found that these predicted on-court success. 


The Phoenix Suns for instance found that franchise legend Steve Nash touched his teammates an astounding 239 times over the course of a single NBA game. It may not be a coincidence that the Canadian point guard is known to be one of the most respected leaders in the League, and a beloved figure among his teammates.


Communicate: Touch is a natural and age-old system of communication for humans. From the primal instincts of babies to physical affection shown by adults, physical contact conveys a strong message. On the court, this can take the form of acknowledging and perpetuating solid play. For team leaders, touch can also convey a direction to their teammates. 


Encourage: Beyond communication, touch is inherently comforting for us. A simple high five can encourage our teammates after both good and bad plays. The latter is particularly important, letting them know that we are here for them and that the team believes in them, thereby alleviating pressure and reducing any negativity.


Bond: A touch-happy team is able to build a cooperative and fun environment. It has been shown that teams with frequent physical contact play in a more altruistic manner, beyond just winning more games. They pass the ball more often and set more screens, facilitating a more efficient style of play. Unique handshakes can provide a sense of fun and an exclusive bond for each of our teammates as well.