Psychology Today has revealed that ‘when NBA players touch teammates more, they win more’ . High fives, fist bumps, chest bumps, leaping shoulder bumps, head slaps and grabs and team huddles have all been shown to help a player achieve success in performing a key move, such as a rebound, point, block or steal, during a game.

In short, the article tells us that you can use psychology to increase performance. There is evidence to demonstrate that touching and body contact during a match can improve your team’s chances of winning the game.

So how does this work?

Basically, touching-behaviours, such as high fives, group huddles, and half or full hugs increase the levels of trust and cooperation within your team. Engaging in these behaviours increases both your own performance as well as the overall performance of your team.

Psychology Today’s article is based on a study called ‘Tactile Communication, Cooperation and Performance: an Ethological Study of the NBA,” published in Emotion journal by Michael W Kraus, Cassy Huang and Dacher Keltner. The study utilises a complicated measure of performance that doesn’t just include winning and losing, but also other factors such as scoring efficiency. The study eliminates factors that contribute towards a win such as early season performance, expert predictions and player salaries, to demonstrate a clear correlation between touching-behaviours and performance.

How can you use this information to improve your performance?

By carrying out the following actions, you can use psychology to improve your chances of winning a game:

1. Huddle before games, during and after games
2. Try to touch your teammates – by using fist-pumps, high fives, head grabs – or whatever feels comfortable for you, as often as possible.
3. Talk and gesture to your teammates throughout the game.
4. Pass the basketball to your teammates who are less closely defended.
5. Help your teammates on defence.
6. Help your teammates when they tying to escape defensive pressure.

All of the above tips have been taken directly from the Psychology Today article, which tells us that any behaviour where you need to rely on your teammates for help will help increase trust and cooperation within your team, and ultimately, help your team to win.

Now that there is some direct evidence in the touching-cooperation-performance link, you might as well use this to your advantage. Touching is not only socially acceptable, but beneficial. This research is only the tip of the iceberg of the benefits of using psychology tactics to win a game. Stay tuned for more tips in upcoming articles.


All university and college graduates are confronted with one big question upon graduation: where to from here? It is a moment often tainted with a glimmer of uncertainty – will you succeed in the real world? Nowhere does this ring more true than for the aspiring professional basketball player.

So you have finished college or university, either in the US or on home turf in Australia. You were good enough to get into your college or university on a basketball scholarship, and you’ve improved your skills over the past three of four years. But, where to from here?

Michael Oakes, Australian athlete manager and accredited FIBA agent, asserts that it is important to objectively and realistically assess your talent. Only a small number of college graduates make it in the professional arena: only 2-3 rookie spots are offered each year in the NBL and WNBL, and only 60 players are drafted each year for the NBA and WNBA. So what steps can you take to assure that you have the best chance possible of success?

1. If you are eligible for dual citizenship anywhere within the European Union, apply now. There are restrictions on the number of imports that a team can take, plus, your position on the team as an import is always volatile. Playing as a European Citizen has benefits in terms of your job security, pay and competitive edge.
2. The NBL and WNBL are often the launch pad of a career in the NBA/WNBA or in Europe. Landing a position in the NBL/WNBL provides you with the opportunity for intensive training, and puts you in the spotlight for a future position in the USA or Europe. Prior to landing a spot in the NBL/WNBL, consider joining a senior state league and competing in SEABL. Although the training is not as intensive, and these leagues often to do not strength and conditioning training programs, it may provide you with a springboard into an NBL/WNBL position.
3. The NBA and WNBA are renowned as the best leagues in the world, and boast an international array of players. If this is your end-goal, training in an intensive draft prep camp, or summer development program, can increase your chances of being drafted for a team. Similarly, obtaining a position in the NBL/WNBL or a European team will increase your recognition within the US market.

Regardless of where you want to end up as a professional basketball player, whether it be as a player for the NBL/WNBL, NBA/WNBA or Europe, it is important to strategically plan your next move, straight from college or university. Stay focused, keep your goal in mind and grasp onto every opportunity within reach, on an international and national level. If you truly believe you have what it takes, then push to go pro after your basketball college career.