According to a study, shoulder tapping in basketball can reduce stress and thus contribute to better shooting performance. This is what researchers from Switzerland, Germany and the USA report after evaluating women’s basketball games in a US college league in the journal “Psychology of Sport and Exercise”. Sports psychologist Christiane Büttner from the University of Basel and colleagues from the University of Kaiserslautern-Landau and Purdue University examined double free throws that are awarded after fouls. They are among the most stressful moments in basketball and are often decisive for the game. A total of 835 free throw pairs from 60 games were analyzed. It was observed how many of the teammates had touched the thrower before her second throw, for example by patting her on the shoulder or shaking her hand. The touches had a measurable influence on the success rate of the second throw – but only if the first attempt was missed.

“Support from teammates is particularly helpful when the stress level is already high because you missed the first of the two throws,” Büttner is quoted as saying in a statement from her university.

Touch as an effective remedy for stress

According to current research, touch has a calming and supportive effect in stressful situations. In a further step, Büttner’s team examined whether encouraging physical contact also had an impact on the respective teams’ seasonal results. The data indicated a positive connection, but it did not prove to be statistically significant. The study author and her colleagues nevertheless assume that touch can be “an effective remedy against the performance-reducing effects of stress” – also in other sports as well as in relationships and at work.