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Jonathan R. Males, John H. Kerr, Joanne Thatcher and Emma Bellew

The present study investigated the psychological experiences of elite athletes in a team that failed using qualitative methods informed by reversal theory. Five athletes, from a national men’s volleyball team, playing in a European tournament completed a post-game review after each of 6 games. After the tournament, each player took part in in-depth semi-structured interviews, prompted by their post-game reviews. The results indicated that unrealistic expectations, poor team motivation, a negative coaching style, and faulty team process around game performance played an important role in the failure of this team. Also, inappropriate metamotivational states and state reversals were found to have had a negative impact on team performance. Several consultant recommendations for enhancing team motivation and functioning are identified.