Updated: Jan 14, 2022
During the 2009-10 NBA Season, Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash gave an average of 239 high fives to teammates per game and this seemingly meaningless gesture may be the foundation for team success. According to the NBA Touch Study done at U Cal Berkeley, high fives among teammates promote cooperation, build trust, soothe worries in times of stress and increase selflessness. Furthermore, the study found that the best teams in the NBA were always getting into tight huddles, high fiving and chest bumping. The Suns finished '09-'10 season winning 54 games and making it to the Western Conference Finals.
Touch is powerful. Whether it be a high five, chest bump, huddle or any other example, it brings teams together and builds the foundation for teamwork. If one simple gesture, like a high five, creates trust & cooperation and increases selflessness... what would 239 per game do? Big cultures are created by consistent little behaviors, and culture comes first. Always. Creating a way of "how we do things" through consistent positive behaviors will make your team successful for a bunch of reasons, but mostly because you're building a way of how WE do things, which is bigger than any individual.
But, let's dig a little deeper. The power of touch is just a small example of a behavior in a strong culture. If you are seeing recurring problems on your team, why aren't they changing? If you consistently find the same deficiencies, it's most likely a behavioral problem rather than technique or x's and o's. So, ask yourself - can you define how your program does things? What are your behaviors like? Do you tolerate the bad behaviors from your talented players or is everyone held to the same, winning standard? You not only have to be able to answer these questions, but you also have to put them into action if you want to create a winning culture.
So, if you're a Coach, coach culture & behavior first. If you're a member of the team, put your program and teammates first. Let everyone know what is acceptable, what's not and how "we do things here". Winning habits win games.