Jeff Capel surveyed the dire straits facing his basketball team. Oklahoma had starters in foul trouble, shots that were missing and a deficit that was growing. Worse, it wasn’t even close to halftime at Texas A&M. "Is this going to spiral?” the Sooner coach thought standing on the sideline Tuesday. There would be no blowout. Quite the opposite, in fact. The Sooners rallied and even had a last-second chance to win that fell just short. The reason the Sooners didn’t spiral? Willie Warren and his body language. "He held us together,” Capel said. "How he was at halftime and coming out in the second half, he held it together.” Body language made a difference. Then again, it always does. Matt Holliday used it to ease the transition after a mid-season trade to St. Louis. Desmond Mason stayed positive because of it when the Thunder was struggling last season. Zac Robinson separated himself from the pack with it to become the starting quarterback at Oklahoma State. But while good body language can work wonders, the bad variety can spell disaster. Capel has made a point of talking about his team’s poor body language this season. He has criticized players going through the motions or breaking apart when they face adversity. The worst offender has been Warren, his recent turnaround notwithstanding. "I’m tired of trying to figure him out,” Capel said in late December. Even though body language has been cussed and discussed more than usual this basketball season, that non-verbal form of communication is a constant in sports. It is always on display. It is always having an effect. What is bad body language? No doubt you’ve seen it. Slumped shoulders. Rolled eyes. Drooped head. Good body language? Head is up. Shoulders are high. Just like jump shots and touchdowns, home runs and rebounds, how athletes and coaches carry themselves impacts the outcome of games. "I would suggest that effective body language is sort of a fundamental athletic skill,” said sports psychologist Nicki Moore, who heads up Psychological Resources for OU Student-Athletes. "It is a skill that happens every moment of every competition.” No wonder coaches take it so seriously. Kurt Budke has worked on Oklahoma State point guard Andrea Riley’s body language for the better part of four years. The Cowgirl coach remembers how poor it was when Riley was a freshman. Her shoulders would slump. Her head would fall. Her expression would sour. "The rest of her teammates could see that,” Budke said. "If you had seniors out there, they’d try to pick it up and get it going, but your leader out there has to stay positive at all times and show energy at all times.” Budke believes Riley, now as senior, has much better body language. "It definitely can be taught,” he said. His OU counterpart thinks so, too. Sherri Coale recognizes that some players are born confident. That’s how they’re wired, that’s what they bring to the court, but having better body language is something she works on with every player. "With different kids, it’s different,” the Sooner coach said. "You just keep trying keys until you find the one that fits.” With Danielle Robinson, the key to unlocking better body language was watching video of herself displaying bad body language. "I actually have a (video) cut-up called ‘bad faces,’” said Coale, who added that Robinson is positive and confidence by nature but that the point guard plays the position where Coale believes body language is most important. "She was absolutely mortified the first time she watched that film. It’s mostly her frustration with herself, but players, and point guards in particular, have to be aware that regardless of who that frustration is channeled to, everybody else on the floor receives that message.” That is something Marshall Moses thinks about often. While he doesn’t play point guard, the OSU forward is a veteran on a young Cowboy team. He knows that his body language makes a statement to his teammates. "It’s very tough,” Moses said of maintaining good body language. "Anybody — I don’t care if it’s Michael Jordan — if you’re missing shots, it’s going to affect your mindset. But to not show it and to stay positive so your teammates who are making shots will continue ... that separates the good players from the great players.” Jeff Capel has drilled that fact into Willie Warren’s head time and again. There have been times when the sophomore star has looked bored during games. His face has been expressionless. His body has been lifeless. His body language has said that he doesn’t care. Capel’s message to Warren has been simple. "Good body language is you’re always into it,” the coach said. "There’s a certain passion. There’s a certain look. A look of determination. A look of ‘I’m going to do everything I can to help my team.’” Warren may finally be taking those words to heart. His body language was better not only against Texas A&M but also in come-from-behind victories at home against Oklahoma State and Missouri. "I was very enthused,” Warren said. "I showed emotion on the court, and it just elevated everyone’s game to the next level.” Seeing that his improved body language is paying dividends has motivated him to keep it up. During OU’s second-half rally at Texas A&M, Warren had a bounce in his step. He was energized. He was excited. Not just for himself either. He high-fived when Tiny Gallon drew a foul. He applauded when Cade Davis hit a three. He slapped backsides when Tommy Mason-Griffin drove the lane. "I just really feel if you an learn to do that ... what they’re doing subconsciously is they’re throwing themselves into the team,” Capel said, "and when you do that, you don’t feel as much pressure. You just go out, and you play.” The evidence is clear — body language has an impact in games. For the better or the worst.