As coaches, we're always looking for ways to gain a competitive edge. A lot of times that means spending time and energy exploring schemes to help win games, while others devote a ton of time to developing and trying to sustain a culture that will help collect wins.
Well in the NBA, the Phoenix Suns are paying particular attention and keeping track of the high fives, fist bumps, and other forms of positive reinforcement that teammates give each other during games to help them gain a competitive edge.
They're taking it so seriously that they're making it their very own stat.
“We have a high-five stat,” head coach Earl Watson noted to NBA.com following the Suns win over the Spurs earlier this week. “I’m being honest with you. This is true. So we want to keep track of how many high-fives we get per game to each other.”
There's some interesting science to back up coach Watson's focus on high-fives. UC Berkeley Professor of Psychology Dacher Keltner took a look at one early season game from each NBA team in 2015 and kept track of all of the fist bumps, embraces and high fives that took place. What he found was that teams that made more contact with each other helped each other more on defense, set more screens for each other, and played more efficiently and cooperatively overall.
In other words, they played selflessly.
So how might the high-five focused approach transfer to the football field? Maybe implementing it means wide receivers will block harder and longer on the perimeter, or that each defensive player executes his assignment better because he trusts the guys around him more.
Hey, it just might be worth emphasizing during the week and giving a try.