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  • Author: Svenja A. Wolf x
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Svenja A. Wolf, Mark A. Eys, Pamela Sadler and Jens Kleinert

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.

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Mark Eys, M. Blair Evans, Luc J. Martin, Jeannine Ohlert, Svenja A. Wolf, Michael Van Bussel and Charlotte Steins

A previous meta-analysis examining the relationship between cohesion and performance (Carron, Colman, Wheeler, & Stevens, 2002) revealed that this relationship was significantly stronger for female teams as compared with male teams. The purpose of the current study was to explore perceptions of the cohesion-performance relationship by coaches who have led teams of both genders. Semistructured interviews were employed with Canadian and German coaches with previous experience leading both male and female sport teams. The information obtained through the interviews yielded a number of categories pertaining to potential similarities and differences within female and male sport teams including: (a) the nature of cohesion (e.g., direction of the cohesion-performance relationship), (b) antecedents of cohesion (e.g., approaches to conflict), and (c) the management of cohesion (e.g., developing social cohesion). Overall, the results offer testable propositions regarding gender differences and group involvement in a sport context as well as informing best practices such that teams can attain optimal performance.