With more sports-related technology coming out each year, teams are now tracking everything they can to help improve their athletes’ performance. This includes capturing metrics on how far, how much and how fast athletes run during a game. But the Phoenix Suns are taking analytics to the next level for the 2016-2017 season by tracking high-fives.
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That’s right, high-fives. Throughout the season, the Suns will count how often teammates high-five, fist bump or embrace each other during a game.
“We have a high-five stat,” Suns head coach Earl Watson told nba.com on Monday after their 91-86 pre-season victory over the Spurs. “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.”
That might sound strange, because high-fives are not a stat teams typically track, but the Suns may be on to something. According to a study done by UC Berkeley psychology professor Dacher Keltner, there is a correlation between a team’s success and the number of times they touch during a game.
“Controlling for how much money they’re making, the expectations that they would do well during that season, how well they were 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.”
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The video below explains how the more teams touch during a game, the better they perform on defense, setting more screens and overall playing more efficiently and cooperatively.
[youtube video=”-R9qyWEJuDI” /]