This paper gives insight to the dynamic process of group cohesion within sports teams. There are key elements that are correlated with cohesion such as personal, leadership and group factors. Literature concerning individual factors has provided evidence for the positive association between more effort and higher perceptions of task cohesion. Additionally, research has focused on the negative effects as low cohesiveness being linked to self-handicapping. Research regarding leadership factors has outlined the importance of training, social support and positive feedback in the development of team cohesion.
Lastly, research has identified trust and team homogeneity leading to stronger feelings of cohesion. The overall purpose of the paper is to present and elaborate on these factors in relation to team cohesion. Introduction Group cohesion is the extent to which members of a team stick together and remain united in the pursuit of a shared goal (Crocker, 2016). Group cohesion can be broken down into two subtypes which are social and task cohesion. Social cohesion refers to attraction to the group due to positive relationships (Crocker, 2016).
Task cohesion refers to attraction to the group due to shared commitment to achieve team objectives (Crocker, 2016). Cohesion is highly important in sport atmospheres as it can enhance performance, work output, friendly team environments, and the accomplishment of goals. As a dynamic process, there are numerous factors correlated with cohesion. Individual factors of each teammate are related to cohesion such as the amount of effort exerted by players and the negative process of self-handicapping. Leadership factors are influential components in the development in cohesion through training, providing social support and presenting players with positive feedback.
Finally, cohesion is connected to factors of the team as a group by influencing levels of trust between the players, coaches, and management and similarity in attitudes, goals and commitment. Thus, the purpose of this paper is to present and evaluate the key concepts related to team cohesion. Individual Factors When examining cohesion within a team it is important to narrow in and consider the contribution of the individual players. An athletes perception of a team’s cohesiveness can influence the amount of effort an individual exerts in a group setting.
A study by Prapavessis & Carron (1997) analyzed the relationship between group cohesion and individual work output in sport teams. Results indicate that athletes that received higher scores on the Individual Attractions to the Group Task from the Group Environment Questionnaire had higher work outputs in sports (Prapavessis et al. , 1997). There is a positive association as athletes that put in more work and effort, hold higher perceptions of task cohesiveness. It is also worth noting that individuals can contribute negatively to the development of group cohesion through notions such as self-handicapping.
Self-handicapping occurs when individuals make excuses for future events to protect one’s self-esteem (Crocker, 2016). A study conducted by Carron, Prapavessis & Grove (1994) explored the relationship between the trait of self-handicapping and perceptions of cohesiveness. Findings from this study reveal a negative relationship (Carron et al. , 1994). Therefore, individuals scoring higher in the self-handicapping trait had perceptions of lower task cohesion. Carron and colleagues (1994) suggest that this could be a result of the player attempting to protect their self-esteem by blaming the team for the outcome.
Overall, when assessing the cohesion of a group it is important to consider the members that make up the team. Increasing perceptions of team cohesiveness could increase the amount of effort given by each player and fight against negative notions such as self- handicapping. Leadership Factors Leadership behaviour can influence the development of team cohesion. Positive behaviours of a coach incorporate adequate training and instruction, social support and positive feedback.
As a former competitive soccer player, I have experienced the effects of both excellent and poor coaches. For a few years, I had an exceptional coach that was highly motivated, enthusiastic, understanding and knowledgable. As a highly skilled soccer player herself, she had knowledge of both the technical and mental aspects of the game which allowed for highly effective training and instructions. Training and instruction include the coach providing guidance on skills, techniques, and tactics that prepare a team to perform better (Crocker, 2016).
This coach provided physical drills/training and guided us through mental aspects of the game such as overcoming nervousness and focusing our energy. Her training and instructions promoted the learning of soccer related skills allowing us to improve and succeed. The coach provided social support as she was eager and concerned about each player on the team. Social support is the behaviours by the leader that show concern for welfare of each athlete, providing a positive group atmosphere and warm relationships (Crocker, 2016).
The coach interacted with each player by learning the specific strengths we brought to the team which made everyone feel that they were a necessary component. Her enthusiasm spread amongst the group as there were pool parties and group cheers that created a fun and positive atmosphere. This coach emphasized and reinforced when we played well individually and as a team. Positive feedback involves coaches recognizing and rewarding good performances (Crocker, 2016). She never embarrassed us by publicly announcing our mistakes but rather rewarded the players improving skills.
The combination of all of these coaching behaviours lead to teams that are more social and task cohesive, providing evidence that coaches are able to help mold group cohesiveness (Crocker, 2016). My coaches contribution led to a heightened appreciation for the sport and the establishment of many friendships. Group Factors The final concept that will be explored are group factors. These are the aspects of a team as a unit that are correlated to team cohesion. A study by Mach, Dolan and Tzafrir (2010) reviewed trust at the team level by examining team performance as a function of cohesion among members.
Data was collected from a survey of 690 profession athletes playing in Spanish leagues (Mach et al. , 2010). Results from this study indicate that sporting environments that foster clarity, reliability, and trust among the members are associated with better performance and cohesion (Mach et al. , 2010). Thus, teams that trust each other, the coach and management have better cohesion among the group. Team homogeneity refers to the similarity of attitude, commitment, cooperation, and goals shared amongst team members (Yarmey, 2013).
Studies indicate that similarities in aspects such as attitudes, commitment, cooperation, and goals leads to stronger feelings of cohesion (Yarmey, 2013). Additionally, similarity in attitudes overpowers the similarity in ethnicity. The movie Remember the Titans demonstrates this concept. In particular, there is a scene in the movie in which an African American player and a Caucasian player begin chanting, “I want a victory” as they are surrounded by the team (Remember the Titans Inspirational Moments).
After a few seconds, the rest of the team joins in and all players sing the chant (Remember the Titans Inspirational Moments). This is an expression of members having akin goals and attitudes, regardless of skin colour, race, ethnicity or former teams. There is a sense of unity between the players as they were separate teams that are coming together under the same conditions and competing as a single unit. Conclusion A variety of conclusions can be stated after presenting the key factors connected to team cohesiveness. Firstly, increasing perceptions of cohesiveness can increase work output (Prapavessis et al. 1997) and fight against self-handicapping (Carron et al. , 1994).
Secondly, the combination of training/instruction, social support and positive feedback lead to more cohesive groups (Crocker, 2016). Finally, fostering trust (Mach et al. , 2010) and homogeneity (Yarmey, 2013) between coaches, teammates, coaches and management is linked to better cohesion and performance. It is evident that cohesion is a process that is influenced and associated to an abundant of concepts that teams should consider in the pursuit of achieving goals as a unit in sports.