Posted on July 15, 2016

Slam_002

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.