Research has consistently revealed that team cohesion is positively related to team performance under certain conditions. In response to the need for understanding this relationship more fully, and because of the promising new insights that can be garnered with the use of social network analysis (SNA), this study employs SNA as a tool to explore a case study of the structural cohesiveness of two women’s collegiate basketball teams. Members of the two teams completed online roster-based surveys related to different types of structural cohesion levels at four points during the season. This case study revealed that the higher performing team showed improved structural cohesion in the efficacy network over the four phases, and highlighted the movement of key players in the different networks (friendship, trust, advice, and efficacy) over time. These patterns demonstrate the potential for SNA to function as a diagnostic tool for organizations and researchers to generate testable hypotheses even in instances where statistical inference may be precluded by sampling constraints. In short, SNA was found to be a valuable new tool for exploring, depicting, and informing explanations about the individual relationships that impact team dynamics.
Stacy Warner, Matthew T. Bowers, and Marlene A. Dixon
Inge Milius, Wade D. Gilbert, Danielle Alexander, and Gordon A. Bloom
broadly referred to as tactile communication, and its impact on athlete performance and team dynamics. Heckel, Allen, and Blackmon ( 1986 ) completed what appears to be the first study of tactile communication in sport. Studying the touch behaviors of winning team members in men’s intramural flag football
Rachel A. Van Woezik, Alex J. Benson, and Mark W. Bruner
exploring how coaches manage team dynamics following injury. Specifically, we sought to explore coaches’ perspectives on (a) what occurs within a team from the time of injury to when an injured athlete returns to the lineup and (b) how coaches respond to an injury event in the midst of a competitive season
Alex J. Benson, Mark A. Eys, and P. Gregory Irving
Many athletes experience a discrepancy between the roles they expect to fulfill and the roles they eventually occupy. Drawing from met expectations theory, we applied response surface methodology to examine how role expectations, in relation to role experiences, influence perceptions of group cohesion among Canadian Interuniversity Sport athletes (N = 153). On the basis of data from two time points, as athletes approached and exceeded their role contribution expectations, they reported higher perceptions of task cohesion. Furthermore, as athletes approached and exceeded their social involvement expectations, they reported higher perceptions of social cohesion. These response surface patterns—pertaining to task and social cohesion—were driven by the positive influence of role experiences. On the basis of the interplay between athletes’ role experiences and their perception of the group environment, efforts to improve team dynamics may benefit from focusing on improving the quality of role experiences, in conjunction with developing realistic role expectations.
Matt D. Hoffmann, Todd M. Loughead, and Gordon A. Bloom
The general objective of the current study was to explore the experiences of elite level athletes who reported being peer mentored by other athletes during their sporting careers. The primary purpose was to identify the mentoring functions provided by athlete mentors, while the secondary purpose was to examine the outcomes related to peer mentored athletes’ (i.e., protégés) mentoring experiences. Individual interviews were conducted with 14 elite peer mentored athletes, and the data were analyzed using a hierarchical content analysis. The results indicated that athlete mentors provided a variety of specific functions that facilitated protégés’ progression through sport and development from a personal standpoint. The findings also showed that protégés benefitted in terms of enhanced performance and confidence, and also demonstrated a willingness to provide mentorship to their peers. In sum, the results of the current study may be used to enhance the effectiveness of peer mentoring relationships between athletes.
Jamie Collins and Natalie Durand-Bush
The purpose of this study was to investigate coaching strategies to optimize team functioning in the context of high performance curling. Strategies were elicited from 10 male coaches, 12 women’s teams (N = 49 athletes) and seven men’s teams (N = 29 athletes) competing at an elite level. Over 150 strategies were identified as being essential for functioning effectively as a team and they pertained to the following seven components: (a) individual attributes (e.g., create a player contract), (b) team attributes (e.g., determine and adjust game strategy), (c) the foundational process of communication (e.g., script routines for communication), (d) structural team processes (e.g., determine acceptable behaviour/standards), (e) individual regulation processes (e.g., do self-assessments/check-ins), (f) team regulation processes (e.g., discuss leadership behaviours), and (g) the context (e.g., prepare for the opposition). Implications for coaching interventions are provided.
Daryl Gibson and Donna O’Connor
The aim of this study was to explore the perspectives of elite professional football coaches when their team has experienced a “losing streak” of at least three consecutive matches. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 12 elite coaches from the National Rugby League, Australian Football League, and Super Rugby or international-level Rugby Union. Reflexive thematic analysis resulted in the development of six themes, which were organized under a practical three-phase framework. The “pre” phase included (a) team environment; the “during” phase included (b) context of the streak influences strategy, (c) coach approach with the team, (d) disruption in the team dynamic, (e) the coaches’ personal response; and the “post” phase included (f) poststreak reflection. These coaches encountered complex multifactorial contextual situations, which required them to accurately assess the underlying issues that were causing failure and decide on a leadership approach that would reverse underperformance. Overall, these findings contribute to a deeper understanding of the temporal dimension of coaches’ approaches to losing streaks and highlight the critical process involved in establishing a team environment capable of responding with positive individual and collective cognitive and behavioral responses following successive losses.
Peter Gould and Nancy Jo Greenawalt
The cross-disciplinary perspectives of the physical educator and human geographer are used to illustrate methodological approaches to the analysis of team games. Spatial transformations of player configurations raise questions of two-dimensional, or Euclidean, regression, from which residuals create inter-pretable vector fields. Asymmetries in team play raise questions of the “winds of influence” blowing through appropriate spaces as graphic summaries of team dynamics. The meteorological analogy is explored further as teams create pressure surfaces, or forcing functions, which control the “flow of the game.” Finally, an algebraic topological language of structure is suggested to describe the dynamics of player-polyhedra by defining a relation upon a set of players engaged in a game.
Consulting issues that confront applied sport psychology personnel in gaining entry to working with athletic teams on a long-term basis are discussed. Barriers to entry are examined at the onset and it is emphasized that these obstacles must be overcome by all consultants. Strategies for overcoming such barriers include establishing respect and trust of key athletic personnel, gaining the head coach’s respect, knowing the sport, becoming knowledgeable of the coach’s orientation and team dynamics, gaining support at all levels of the organization, clarifying services to be provided, and making presentations to coaching staffs and athletes. Additional guidelines are discussed in an effort to better clarify the role of the applied sport psychology consultant. These include clarifying one’s own consulting needs, maintaining confidentiality, the need for open and honest communication, support demonstrated by coaches, and collecting research data while consulting.
Krista Munroe, Paul Estabrooks, Paul Dennis, and Albert Carron
This study aimed to identify group norms present in sport teams for practices, competition, social situations, and the off-season. Participants (n = 87 males, n = 53 females) were asked to list behaviors prescribed (i.e., expected) or proscribed (i.e., not appropriate) for each of the four situations. Results showed that a norm associated with productivity was the most frequently cited for competitions (16.3%), practice (22.3%), and the off-season (60.1%). Many of the other frequently cited norms indirectly reflected on productivity—punctuality (23.6 and 8.9% for practices and competitions, respectively), attendance (13.6 and 3.0%, respectively), and preparedness (3.3 and 7.1%, respectively). An overwhelming majority of the other norms cited were related to group maintenance (i.e., in the off-season, maintain contact, 8.7%; in social situations, attend functions. 16.5%; and respect teammates, 16.5%). Results are discussed in terms of their relevance to sport team dynamics.