Sports Psychology
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Team Building/Cohesion

There are Internal and External Forces that Exert Pressure on Group Members
      What are the forces which act on members to remain in the group?

      There are three main forces that act on members to stay in Group:

  • Democratic - with a democratic leader, there was more co-operation and enjoyment
  • Autocratic - with an autocratic leader, there was more dissatisfaction and behaviors became either more aggressive or apathetic.
  • Laissez-faire - with a laissez-faire led group. there was no signs of particular dissatisfaction,; however, the members of the group were not particularly productive.
      It was found that the attractiveness of the group is strongest when each individual:
  • Has a strong desire for interpersonal interactions with other group members
  • Has a sense of satisfaction from being involved in the group's activities.
  • Benefits from being associated with the group.
  • Has an interest in working together achieve common goals.
  • Likes each other and enjoy each other's company.
      Kurt Lewin, Professor of Philosophy and Psychology at Berlin University came to the US in 1932 where he taught at Cornell University, and then at Iowa, becoming Professor of Child Psychology at the latter's Child Research Station. In 1944, with Douglas McGregor and others, Lewin founded the Center for Group Dynamics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology which is now based at the University of Michigan.

      In the 1939 studies conducted by Professor Lewin, L. Lippitt, and R. White, Lewin carried out studies relating to the effects of three different leadership styles on outcomes of boys' activity groups in Iowa. Leaders in each group were asked to change their styles; however, the effects on each leadership style remained basically unchanged. Lewin's goal was to show that the democratic style achieved better results.

      There is the possibility of social and cultural influences on individuals undermined his findings to some extent, but nevertheless suggested the benefits of a democratic style in an American context. The studies also showed that it was possible for leaders and managers to change their styles, and they could be trained to change and improve their leadership characteristics if appropriate management styles for their situation and context were adopted.

     There are group dynamics that influence achieving a balance among the major parts of a writing a position paper and  achieving a consensus or group decision that is acceptable to all members of the group. Sometimes there group chooses to endorse a majority and a minority positions that doesn't provide clear guidance. Rather, readers of the report are free to decide what, how, and when to act.

Model of Factors Affecting Group Cohesion

      The forces holding a group together consist of contracts, scholarships, family expectations, etc. Other factors such as age, proximity, or eligibility requirements can also play an important role.


      Individual characteristics of group members include the following participation motives:
  • Task motivation associated with task cohesion
  • Affiliation motivation associated with social cohesion
  • Self motivation associated with efforts to obtain personal satisfaction
      There is a leadership style and behavior as individuals strive to establish a leadership relationship within their groups.
  • The role of leaders is vital to team cohesion.
  • Specifically clear, consistent, unambiguous communication from coaches and leaders must occur regarding team goals, etc.,
      The characteristics of a group varies according to the size, age, and even sex of the members constituting the group. For example:
  • Individual versus team sports,
  • Group productivity norms,
  • desire for group success, and
  • Team stability
Relationship between Cohesion and Performance
      Cohesion increases performance level of interacting sports, but there is a decrease or no effect on performance for "acting together" (also known as co-acting).
  • Co-acting Teams - archery, bowling, golf, skiing, wrestling.
  • Mixed - football, baseball, track.
  • Interacting - basketball, hockey, soccer, volleyball.
      New coaches will inherited a portion of their team from the previous season. The previous season's leaders may graduated and/or there may have been conflicts and problems. It is extremely important for a new coach to discuss his/her plans with the team before the start of the season and then follow through by monitoring the progress during the season to build both task and social cohesion in the team.

It is important to build individual satisfaction. There is a circular cause and
effect with with satisfaction and cohesiveness of the group's members!

      Individuals who are a member of a cohesion group are more likely to attend every practice session and be less likely to drop out. Such individuals are less likely to cause disruptions in group and more likely to be a positive example of following the on and off ice training rules. The positive environment supports  a positive social support each individual receives from other members of the group.

Recommended Reading:

PDF Team Management Starts by Defining the Team  group looks at the meaning of a team. One way to define a team is to differentiate it ... Athletic teams can be classified as either ”co-acting' like golf or track teams

Team Ice Skating Sports

High School Skating Clubs

Training Plan for Success

Aspiring To Achieve Elite Status


Together We Stand, Divided We Fall    by Kaia E. Using goal setting to increase team cohesion.

Kurt Lewin  Found that, if group members were involved in and encouraged to discuss the forces that act to oppose rather than comprising independent forces in themselves. Most members will want to stay within the behavioral norms of the principles of force field theory.

Cohesion     by Karlene Sugarman, M.A.

PDF Management Science and Group Behavior: Work-Unit  Cohesiveness taps a basic property of the small group: its "stick-togetherness" acts on members to remain in the group.

Group Cohesion and Team Building     by Dave Yukelson

Team Building 101     by Dr. Colleen Hacker  

Team Psychology

Learn to Skate Program

Table of Contents - Basic Skills Bridge Program Handbook


The following internet links have been gleaned from personal communications
combined with information from public institutions and athletic organizations/
associations that have a web presence with information concerning team and
individual sports programs:

Flow/Peak Performance
Focus & Concentration
Goals and Objectives
Goal Setting
Personal Sabotage
Self Fulfilling Prophecy

All materials are copy protected. 
The limited use of the materials for education purposes is allowed providing
credit is given for the source of the materials.

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