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Sebastian Harenberg, Harold A. Riemer, Erwin Karreman, and Kim Dorsch

The study explored the competition between teammates for playing time (i.e., positional competition) within university team sports from the athletes’ perspective. Sixteen Canadian interuniversity team sport athletes (11 women, 5 men) participated in semistructured interviews. Results revealed that positional competition (a) occurs between players in the same position, (b) is necessary to determine playing time, (c) is an ongoing, omni-present process, and (d) happens under the awareness of the coach. Furthermore, various inputs (by the individual athlete, team, coach), processes (performance-related, information-related), and outcomes (individual, collective) became apparent. Positional competition is a group process that occurs across multiple competitive situations (e.g., practices, games). Future research is needed to clearly define and operationalize it as its own construct.

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Sebastian Harenberg, Harold A. Riemer, Erwin Karreman, and Kim D. Dorsch

Competition is a common phenomenon and occurs frequently in sports. In high performance sports, competition takes place not only between teams (interteam competition) but also within a team (intrateam competition). In the intrateam competition, coaches might play a central role because of their power to structure competition within their teams. Yet, there is a lack of research exploring how coaches facilitate this type of competition. Consequently, the purpose of this study was to explore how university-level team sport coaches’ experience, structure and use intrateam competition. Eight full-time Canadian Interuniversity Sports head coaches participated in semistructured interviews. The participants indicated that intrateam competition involves two distinct types of competition: situational and positional competition. While situational competition occurs primarily in practices, positional competition is an ongoing, continual process in which athletes who occupy the same position compete for playing time. The coaches shared important considerations about how to carefully structure and use both types of competition constructively. The study is an original account of intrateam competition as a multifaceted, constructive process within high performance sport teams.