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Athletes’ precompetitive appraisal is important because it determines emotions, which may impact performance. When part of a team, athletes perform their appraisal within a social context, and in this study we examined whether perceived team cohesion, as a characteristic of this context, related to appraisal. We asked 386 male and female intercollegiate team-sport athletes to respond to measures of cohesion and precompetitive appraisal before an in-season game. For males and females, across all teams, (a) an appraisal of increased competition importance was predicted by perceptions of higher task cohesion (individual level), better previous team performance, and a weaker opponent (team level) and (b) an appraisal of more positive prospects for coping with competitive demands was predicted by higher individual attractions to the group (individual level). Consequently, athletes who perceive their team as more cohesive likely appraise the pending competition as a challenge, which would benefit both emotions and performance.
Svenja A. Wolf is now with the Social Psychology Program, Department of Psychology, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Mark A. Eys is with the Department of Kinesiology & Physical Education and the Department of Psychology, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario. Pamela Sadler is with the Department of Psychology, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario. Jens Kleinert is with the Department of Health & Social Psychology, Institute of Psychology, German Sport University Cologne; German Research Centre of Elite Sport (momentum), Cologne.