There is something transformative about the act of a high five. Seriously. Find the nearest person to you and hold up your hand with a smile on your face and see what happens. Lately my team has been talking a lot about our goals, both as individuals and as a team. Not just general goals – “I want to be a better jammer” – but quantifiable ones we can examine after we bout. How often am I going to get lead jammer? How few times will I go to the box? How many times will I execute a certain skill or strategy per period? It’s an excellent exercise — clarifying some of my personal goals and also becoming aware of my teammates’ goals really focused my thinking about our team’s development in a way I needed. One of the goals we came up with as a team is giving the most high fives. It sounds kind of general, but we commit to giving the most high fives of any team on the track during a bout (I interpret this as we will execute more high fives than any ref or NSO crew or any group of fans present as well). Air high fives are allowed to count if each person makes the high five sound while doing so.
A commitment to high fives turns out to be a pretty awesome thing. I mean, high fives are kind of silly. Hence they make you laugh. But they also make you remember to engage your teammates and coaches in a positive way throughout game day. Eye contact usually happens when you high five someone, along with the physical contact that comes with a hand slap. We went to a tournament a few weeks ago and played five bouts in two days. We high fived before our bouts, we high fived coming back from a jam, we high fived at the end. We high fived our opponents on occasion. For such a small and simple act, it created a lot of fun that circled round our players throughout the weekend. Tournaments provide a crucible in which your team can judge where it stands against a variety of opponents, how quickly you can adjust to different styles of play and where the limits of your stamina and endurance lie. My team really started to gel over the weekend in a way that we hadn’t previously this season and we had a ton of fun, on and off the track. We didn’t win the tournament, but I’m pretty sure we achieved our goal of giving the most high fives of any team in attendance.
Two weeks after that, we had a roadie to play a team that had beaten us several times in the past and that we barely beat last season (a real milestone for us!). When I woke up that morning of that bout day, the high fives started among my team on Facebook and spread. I posted a photo of myself, hand held aloft for a high five. Before I even interacted with another person that day, I felt like I had already given a considerable amount of high fives. High on high five mojo, I drove south to wander around the city I had once lived in and meet up with an old friend I hadn’t seen in more than a year or two before heading to the bout venue. We kicked ass that night, taking a 307-145 victory. It’s impossible to know if high fives contributed to our win. But something started happening after we set the high five goal. Something good.