Team sports have an underlying emphasis of culture. Establishing a certain culture on your team is an important component for morale, camaraderie, and accountability. Lots of teams go about this in lots of different ways, and here we have an example from the Phoenix Suns.
After a preseason victory against the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night, Suns head coach Earl Watson told Cody Cunningham of NBA.com that his team will be tracking high-fives from the bench during games this season:
“We have a high-five stat,” Head Coach Earl Watson said following the 91-86 victory. “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.”
In 2015, Dacher Keltner, Professor of Psychology at UC Berkeley did a study using one game from every NBA team early in the season, taking note of fist bumps, embraces, and high fives. He found a positive correlation between those embraces and team success:
“Controlling for how much money they’re making, the expectations that they would do well during that season, how well they we’re doing in that game,” Keltner said. “Not only did they win more games but there’s really nice basketball statistics of how selfless the play is.”
Going into his first full season as head coach with a mostly young group, Watson is showing his desire to establish the kind of culture he wants from the Suns by doing things like these to emphasize team morale.