Team Cohesion in Sport
The term cohesiveness has long been associated with the amount of ‘togetherness’ displayed by a team both on and off the field. Team cohesion is commonly defined as a dynamic process that is reflected in the tendency of a group to remain united in the pursuit of its goals and objectives (Carron 1982).
There are two dimensions within cohesion:
Research conducted by Lenk (1969) found that social cohesion was not an important component in achieving a successful performance in elite rowing, i.e., the rowers do not have to like one another for top performance. Sometimes, that’s just as well!
However, when contemplating the larger majority of active athletes (i.e., the non-elite) social cohesion may well prove to be quite important.
Performance success will facilitate feelings of greater cohesion and satisfaction. Similarly, cohesion itself will also result in a greater sense of satisfaction.
Satisfaction is how an individual feels about their participation in a team. If an individual has a high degree of satisfaction they are more likely to feel good about themselves and their participation and want to continue participating.
If a crew lacks the ability to gain satisfaction substantially through its performance in the short term, cohesion may provide the level of satisfaction required to maintain motivation. Thus, as performance improvements due to training have an opportunity to emerge, this reinforces the positive feelings gained from achievement.
Over time, encouraging participation at novice levels will increase both the size and standard of the pool of athletes from which elite squads are selected. In this light the development of social cohesion at a non-elite level may well be extremely important to any sport.