From Adam Willis at Slate on May 4, 2017:
What makes a group of athletes greater than the sum of its parts? Is it the knowing glance that New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady exchanges with Rob Gronkowski when he looks down the line of scrimmage? Is it the fire that the Chicago Cubs’ Jon Lester mustered after his personal catcher David Ross trotted out to the mound to dispense some wisdom in a tense sixth inning?
Team chemistry is the most elusive factor in sports—the “holy grail of performance analytics,” according to Harvard Business Review. It’s only logical that certain teams get along better than others, but how important are these relationships, and can teams optimize them?
The fact that the sports world’s intangibles seem, by definition, immeasurable make them an irresistible challenge for researchers who’ve figured out how to quantify so much of what happens on the field of play. Neuroscientists have claimed to measure chemistry through the synchronized heartbeats of teammates. Other researchers have examined the correlation of high fives and wins.
Originally published: May 4, 2017. Last Updated: May 4, 2017.