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3 Ways Teammates Can Practice Gratitude And Improve Overall Team Chemistry

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PCA National Advisory Board Member Dacher Keltner is a Psychology Professor and the Director of the Greater Good Science Center (@GreaterGoodSC) at UC-Berkeley. Keltner is most famous in the sports world for his study on NBA teams, when he identified a link between positive, supportive ‘touching’ (such as high-fives) and success on the court. Keltner is also a published author, most recently publishing The Power Paradox.

To Keltner, sports is a great context for cultivating the expression of gratitude because people are forced to collaborate and cooperate. Keltner's research indicates that sports create the opportunity to practice gratitude, and in this video, Keltner suggests three ways to make the expression of gratitude explicit.

1) Have players spend time each week reflecting on the things they are grateful for; what they appreciate, what's been given to them, or something a teammate has helped them with. Keltner's research shows that this weekly reflection increases happiness, cardiovascular function, and improves relationships with others.

2) Have players verbally communicate gratitude by saying thank you for things that matter to them. To Keltner, the when players explicitly and directly thank others for the work they've done, players feel more connected. Doing this can create stronger relationships between players.

3) Have players express gratitude through positive touch. Whether it's a fist-bump, high-five, or hug, this is another way teammates can say thank you to one another in a casual way.

Keltner also urges parents to practice gratitude towards coaches to improve parent/coach relationships.