Social group – is three or more people associated with relatively permanent social relationships. These relationships are formed on the basis of common needs, values and interests, the content of which determines the specificity and isolation of this group, distinguish it from others. Any social group has a number of common ideas and interests that the participants are aware of and obey. Therefore, any team can also be called a social group. However, a sports team is a little more than just a social group. Its small number of people additionally have more or less common skills.
Team cohesion is the sum of forces that influence the participants to remain a part of the group. A close-knit team is more focused on achieving the goal and winning. It is often said that a sports team is more than the sum of individual players, and sports team cohesion is as important as the abilities of its members. Conversely, a lack of coherence and cohesion in the team can lead to poor sports results.
And research really shows the relationship between the level of sports team cohesion and its sports results. However, it is not clear what kind of dependence it is. It is not established whether this sports team is more successful in sports, because it is cohesive, or the cohesion increases after the experience of win.
Increase team cohesion
As sports team cohesion is so important, do not neglect it. It is necessary to learn how to improve. Creating a cohesive team of many people is an integral part of the coach and sports psychologist work as the coaching staff.
Cohesion development in fact is the construction of the team. There are the following principles that have a positive impact on increasing team cohesion:
- each participant should know the responsibilities of other members of the group;
- if you are a coach, know all your players and use this knowledge to develop your team;
- it is necessary to develop a sense of pride for the subcommands that form a large team, for example, for the defense line of a football team;
- participation of all players in joint decision-making;
- the coach needs to explain to each team member his responsibilities and convince his individual importance for the common goal;
- allow team members to resolve disputes;
- prevent the formation of a hierarchy within the team and avoid the appearance of a “scapegoat”, everyone should be given the opportunity to act;
- use exercises to show all participants how dependent they are on each other.
The behavior of a sports team
Audience, which is also a social group, has an impact on the work of the sports team. This audience effect occurs when we are observed during work. The presence of other people and the ability to evaluate the actions creates tension among those who are being watched. They certainly better perform controlled tasks, but those tasks that have not yet been worked out will be more likely failed.
It is interesting that the audience effect increases in proportion to the number of spectators. The analysis of the number of fans present during football matches showed that the home team scored much more points when the biggest crowds were sitting in the stands.
Always need a leader
There may be another phenomenon, which is negative, called social idleness.
The phenomenon of social inaction can occur if the sports team has no person who sets the pace and rhythm of work. Such a person usually plays the role of the main one who assigns tasks and head to solves them. And in the absence of such a leader the sports team becomes a free group, smaller or larger part of which does not know what to do. So they do anything, by accident and without much obligation, or “get attached” to what others do and just pretend to do something. Members of such a social group do less than they can and make less effort to accomplish the task than if they would do it individually or under leadership.
Role and types of leadership
Sports results very often depend on leadership, which can be defined as “influencing the coordination and management of a group to achieve a specific goal.” Leadership can be formal (team captain, coach) or informal.
Leadership styles are behaviors that leaders use to guide and influence participants. They distinguish several classical styles: autocratic, democratic and liberal, as well as the style of encouragement and assistance.
During the first attempts to define a leader’s problems psychologists only have ensured that for such “rank” it is necessary to have certain qualities. Eight qualities associated with good leadership were identified: aspiration (ambition and perseverance), honesty, motivation to lead others, self-confidence, intelligence, knowledge of group goals, creativity (imagination and originality) and flexibility.
Leaders do not have to be exceptional people in terms of outstanding intelligence or the ability to predict the future.
It is generally believed that group thinking produces better results. Because the accumulated knowledge and experience of each member got together prevent mistakes and lead to an optimal solution to the problem. Creative personal contribution of each person allows to clearly and comprehensively assess the situation and make the right decision.
However, very often it turns out that the intelligence of the group does not exceed the intelligence of its individual members. Thus, the sports team gives in to the illusion of its infallibility and intellectual superiority, and the illusion is stronger the higher the social status (outside this group) of each participant.
Group thinking contributes to the emergence of defective solutions and crises, because it allows the group to see and hear only what they want. Information that is incompatible with the group’s opinion is ignored, especially if it comes from outside. The group is not seeking and does not take into account new opportunities. All these leads to unjustified optimism and failure.
Sports team as a social group is quite an interesting object for psychologists. The social behavior of the team, both inside and outside, largely determines its success. This behavior, in its turn, is determined, among other things, by the influence of other social groups. Therefore, coaches and sports psychologists should know about it.