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TEAM COHESION IN SPORT:Predicting Future Participation, Team Building

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Lesson 37
TEAM COHESION IN SPORT
Consequences of Team Cohesion
Most research on consequences of team cohesion has focused upon performance. The primary question
that has been asked is to what degree team cohesion leads to improved team or individual performance.
Research has consistently shown that a significant relationship exists between team cohesion and athletic
performance (Carron & Dennis, 1998; Mullen & Cooper, 1994; Widmeyer, Carron & Brawley, 1993). This
observed relationship is much stronger when task cohesion as opposed to social cohesion is involved, and
when interactive as opposed to coactive sports are involved.
Interactive sports are those team sports, such as volleyball, basketball, and soccer, that require members of
the team to interact with one another. Coactive sports are those activities, such as bowling, archery, and
riflery, that do not require members of the team to interact with each other for team success.
We will now be discussing other consequences of team cohesion. These include direction of causality for
the cohesion-performance relationship, improving group self-efficacy, predicting future participation,
homogeneity of team cohesion, disruptive effects of self-handicapping, and team momentum.
Direction of Causality for the Cohesion-Performance Relationship
As mentioned before, numerous investigations have verified that a significant and positive relationship
exists between direct measures of team cohesion and performance in both individuals and team sports.
Almost all athletes, however, have experienced the "halo effect' of success. When your team is winning, it is
a lot easier to feel at one with your team and with your teammates. Team cohesion leads to team
performance, and Team performance leads to team cohesion.
Improving Group Self-Efficacy
Research by Kim and Sugiyama (1992) likewise points to the importance of group or team self-efficacy in
helping teams believe that they will be successful. Teams that have developed high levels of team cohesion
tend to exhibit high of group efficacy as well.
Predicting Future Participation
Sports participants who exhibit high levels of social cohesion also exhibit high scores in the expectation that
they will participate in sport during the following season. This prediction is undoubtedly related to the
further observation that high levels of team cohesion are related to lowered state anxiety. Individuals low in
state anxiety are more likely to continue sports participation.
Homogeneity of Team Cohesion
Research indicates that homogeneity of team cohesion among both starter and nonstarter is an important
predictor of successful team performance. Successful volleyball teams are characterized by high levels of
team cohesion on the part of both starters and nonstarters. Conversely, less successful teams are
characterized by a lack of homogeneity (agreement) in team cohesion between starters and nonstarters.
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Moderator of the Disruptive Effects of Self-Handicapping
Self-handicapping represents the strategies athletes use to proactively protect their self-esteem by creating
excuses for their performance in forthcoming events through adopting or advocating impediments for
success. Typical excuses might include missing practices due to injury or illness, partying and loss of sleep,
school commitments or distractions. If success follows, the athlete or athletes can always internalize (take
credit for) the victory, but if failure follows, they will have numerous external explanations as to why they
have failed. This behavior causes disruption in the athlete's preparation for competition, and is therefore
referred to as self-handicapping.
Research indicates that team cohesion has a moderating effect on the trait of self-handicapping.
Effects of Team Cohesion on Psychological Momentum
Research demonstrated, using high school volleyball players, that a high level of task cohesion is associated
with perceived psychological momentum. Here we learn that teams that enjoy a high level of task cohesion
are more likely to enjoy the benefits of psychological momentum. For teams that are high in task cohesion,
this perception of psychological momentum is likely to be more pronounced.
Developing Team Cohesion
Given that team cohesion is an important characteristic of successful teams, how can it best be developed?
In this section we will address that important question in three different ways. First, we will discuss the
development of team cohesion as a process. Second, we will discuss team building as a way to develop team
cohesiveness among team members. Finally, we will identify specific interventions calculated to enhance
team cohesion.
Team Cohesion as a Process
Very early, Tuckman (1965) described four basic stages that a team must pass through in order to emerge as
a cohesive unit. The four stages include forming, storming norming and performing
In the forming stage, the athletes experience the excitement of a new relationships and getting together with
teammates for a common goal or cause. In the storming stage, the athletes struggle with the frustrations.
During the norming stage, members of the team start agreeing upon common goals. Finally, during the
performing stage, the team is ready to perform as a cohesive unit.
Team Building
Team building is to "promote an increased sense of unity and cohesiveness and enable the team to function
together more smoothly and effectively." Thus, team building is a process that should lead to cohesiveness
among members of a team.
In the direct intervention approach, the sport psychologist works directly with athletes and employees to
empower them, through a series of educational seminars and experiences, to develop a shared vision, unity
of purpose, collaborative teamwork, individual and mutual accountability, team identity, team cohesiveness,
open and honest communication, and trust at all levels. In the indirect intervention approach, the sport
psychologist teaches coaches and managers to conduct team building with their athletes and employees.
Specific Interventions Designed to Enhance Team Cohesion
1. Acquaint each player with the responsibilities of other players.
2. As a coach or teacher, take the time to learn something personal about each athlete on the team.
3. Develop pride within the sub-units of large teams.
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4.
Develop a feeling of "ownership" among the players.
5.
Set team goals and take pride in their accomplishments.
6.
Make sure that each player on the team learns his role and comes to believe it is important.
7.
Do not demand or even expect complete social tranquility. The complete elimination of any friction may
actually suggest a complete lack of interest in group goals.
8. Since cliques characteristically work in opposition to the task goals of a team, avoid their formation.
9. Develop team drills and lead-up games that encourage member cooperation.
10. Highlight areas of team success, even when the team loses a game or match.
References
Cox, H. Richard. (2002). Sport Psychology: Concepts and Applications. (Fifth Edition). New York: McGraw-
Hill Companies
Lavallec. D., Kremer, J., Moran, A., & Williams. M. (2004) Sports Psychology: Contemporary Themes. New
York: Palgrave Macmillan Publishers
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Table of Contents:
  1. SPORT PSYCHOLOGY DEFINED:Issue of Certification, The Research Sport Psychologist
  2. SELF-CONFIDENCE AND SPORT PSYCHOLOGY:Successful Performance, Verbal persuasion
  3. SELECTING SELF-TALK STATEMENTS:Skill accusation, Controlling effort
  4. GOAL ORIENTATION:Goal Involvement, Motivational Climate
  5. CAUSAL ATTRIBUTION IN SPORT:Fritz Heiderís Contribution, Other Considerations
  6. CAUSAL ATTRIBUTIONS IN COMPETITIVE SITUATIONS:Locus of Causality
  7. MOTIVATION IN SPORT:Social Factors, Success and Failure, Coachesí Behavior
  8. FLOW: THE PSYCHOLOGY OF OPTIMAL EXPERIENCE, Goal Setting in Sport
  9. PRINCIPLES OF EFFECTIVE GOAL SETTING:Clearly identify time constraints
  10. A TEAM APPROACH TO SETTING GOALS:The Planning Phase, The Meeting Phase
  11. YOUTH SPORT:Distress and anxiety, Coach-Parent Relationships
  12. ATTENTION AND CONCENTRATION IN SPORT:Information Processing, Memory Systems
  13. ATTENTION AND CONCENTRATION IN SPORT:Measuring Attentional Focus
  14. PERSONALITY AND THE ATHLETE:Personality Defined, Psychodynamic Theory
  15. THE MEASUREMENT OF PERSONALITY:Projective Procedures, Structured Questionnaire
  16. PERSONALITY AND THE ATHLETE:Athletic Motivation Inventory, Personality Sport Type
  17. SITUATIONAL FACTORS RELATED TO ANXIETY AND MOOD:Type of Sport
  18. ANXIETY, AROUSAL, AND STRESS RELATIONSHIPS:Emotion and Mood
  19. ANXIETY, AROUSAL, AND STRESS RELATIONSHIPS:The Inverted-U Theory
  20. ALTERNATIVES TO INVERTED-U THEORY:Apterís Reversal Theory
  21. COPING STRATEGIES IN SPORT:Measurement of Coping Skill
  22. RELAXATION STRATEGIES FOR SPORT:Progressive Relaxation, Autogenic Training
  23. AROUSAL ENERGIZING STRATEGIES:Team Energizing Strategies, Fan Support
  24. AROUSAL ENERGIZING STRATEGIES:Precompetition Workout, Individual Goal Setting
  25. IMAGERY:Skill Level of the Athletes, Time Factors and Mental Practice
  26. IMAGERY:Symbolic Learning Theory, Imagery Perspective. Sensory Mode
  27. IMAGERY:Paivioís Two-Dimensional Model, Developing Imagery Skills
  28. THE ROLE OF HYPNOSIS IN SPORT:Defining Hypnosis, Social-Cognitive Theory
  29. THE ROLE OF HYPNOSIS IN SPORT:Achieving the Hypnotic Trance, Hypnotic Phase
  30. PSYCHOLOGICAL SKILLS TRAINING:Psychological Skills Training Program
  31. PSYCHOLOGICAL SKILLS TRAINING:Performance profiling, Performance routines
  32. ETHICS IN SPORT PSYCHOLOGY:Competence, Integrity, Social Responsibility
  33. AGGRESSION AND VIOLENCE IN SPORT:Defining Aggression, Catharsis hypothesis
  34. AGGRESSION AND VIOLENCE IN SPORT:The Catharsis Effect, Fan Violence
  35. AUDIENCE AND CROWD EFFECTS IN SPORTS:Social Facilitation, Crowd Hostility
  36. TEAM COHESION IN SPORT:Measurement of Team Cohesion
  37. TEAM COHESION IN SPORT:Predicting Future Participation, Team Building
  38. LEADERSHIP IN SPORT:Fiedlerís Contingency Theory, Coach-Athlete Compatibility
  39. EXERCISE PSYCHOLOGY:Special Populations, Clinical Patients
  40. EXERCISE PSYCHOLOGY:Social Interaction Hypothesis, Amine Hypothesis
  41. EXERCISE PSYCHOLOGY:The Theory of Planned Behavior, Social Cognitive Theory
  42. EXERCISE PSYCHOLOGY:Exercise Addiction, Bulimia Nervosa, Muscle Dysmorphia
  43. BURNOUT IN ATHLETES:Overtraining and Overreaching, Recommended Intervention
  44. THE PSYCHOLOGY OF ATHLETIC INJURIES:Personality Factors, Coping Resources
  45. DRUG ABUSE IN SPORT AND EXERCISE:Stimulants, Depressants