Here’s the situation: Season has begun and you find yourself wanting to bring something to your team that can immediately affect the outcome of the game. But you don’t time to acquire a new skill like shooting, or point-guard-dribbling-abilities, or ten more pounds of muscle. (Those kind of things take time – usually off-season time.)
So, what can you bring RIGHT NOW that does not take time, training, and repetition to acquire?! What can you bring to today’s practice or today’s game simply by making a focused effort to actually “bring it”?
How many meaningful “touches” can you give your teammates during today’s game or today’s practice? What’s a meaningful touch? Luckily, basketball has it’s own language of acceptable meaningful touches.
In 2013, Kevin Garnett led the NBA in physical contact.
Research suggests that teammates who touch each other in a positive manner on the court — high-fives, fist-bumps, hugs, pats and the like — tend to do that better than players who don’t.
Benedict Carey reports in The New York Times in 2013:
Michael W. Kraus led a research team that coded every bump, hug and high-five in a single game played by each team in the National Basketball Association early last season.
In a paper due out this year in the journal Emotion, Mr. Kraus and his co-authors, Cassy Huang and Dr. Keltner, report that with a few exceptions, good teams tended to be touchier than bad ones. The most touch-bonded teams were the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers, currently two of the league’s top teams; at the bottom were the mediocre Sacramento Kings and Charlotte Bobcats.
The same was true, more or less, for players. The touchiest player was Kevin Garnett, the Celtics’ star big man, followed by star forwards Chris Bosh of the Toronto Raptors and Carlos Boozer of the Utah Jazz. “Within 600 milliseconds of shooting a free throw, Garnett has reached out and touched four guys,” Dr. Keltner said.
To correct for the possibility that the better teams touch more often simply because they are winning, the researchers rated performance based not on points or victories but on a sophisticated measure of how efficiently players and teams managed the ball — their ratio of assists to giveaways, for example. And even after the high expectations surrounding the more talented teams were taken into account, the correlation persisted. Players who made contact with teammates most consistently and longest tended to rate highest on measures of performance, and the teams with those players seemed to get the most out of their talent.
Touching is one of the most powerful forms of communication between individuals. Consider when you shake hands with a stranger, you can almost tell right off the bat what kind of personality they tend to display.
The same goes on the hardwood. A teammate who is constantly touching, grabbing, high-fiving his or her teammates inherently become a leader whether they realize it or not. This type of touching symbolizes a care for their teammates and thus results in them trusting each other even further. The same can be applied to coaches as well; when speaking to your players an arm on their shoulders, a pat on the back or on the chest shows a level of love and care for your players. It is commonly said that, “Players don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
Players and coaches will always go the extra mile, but only after they have complete trust in their teammates.
Read the full article entitled Good Players Aren’t Afraid to Touch Teammates here.