Team Cohesion and Performance

Team cohesion is a frequently examined psychological construct in sport, particularly in interdependent team sports, as a measure of performance.  Carron and Brawley (as cited in Halbrook, Blom, Hurley, Bell and Holden N.D; and Marcos, Miguel,  Olivia and Calvo 2010) defines cohesion as a dynamic process that is reflected in part by the tendency of a group to stick together and remain united in the pursuit of its instrumental objectives and for the satisfaction of member needs.  Success and good performance is a pursuit for a sporting team competing at any level and research has shown that in interacting sports the success depends on combining individual skills and interdependent team work (Williams and Widmeyer, 1991).  For the purposes of this analysis the research gathered is specifically focussed on interactive or invasion sports, such as football, basketball, and hockey.  The rationale for this is that cohesion is thought to be a catalyst for increased coordination is sports that are highly interactive and depend on task interactions for group success (Carron, Colman, Wheeler and Stevens 2002).

Given that the cohesion-performance correlation has been found to be highly positive in many studies (Macros et al 2010; Turman N.D; Senecal, Loughead and Bloom 2008) it is essential for coaches to acknowledge that this is as important as any other skill they might focus on in training.  Many strategies have been researched for their efficacy in building team cohesion.  They focus on improving team structure, environment and processes through activities and goal setting (Carron, Spink and Prapavessis 1995; Senecal et al 2008).  These strategies have been proven highly effective in improving cohesion and will be discussed in detail in future blogs.

Team Cohesion is most commonly measured by using the Group Environment Questionnaire (GEQ).  The GEQ developed by Carron et al in 1985 (cited in Carron, Bray and Eys 2002) is based on a conceptual model in which cohesion is measured using four primary constructs; individual attraction to the group task, individual attractions to the group social, group integration-task, and group integration-social.  It can also be measured by monitoring team success through winning percentage (Carron et al 2001), the Perceived Motivational Climate in Sport Questionnaire (Duda and Whitehead 1998 cited in Heuze, 2006), and the Multidimensional Sport Cohesion Instrument (MSCI) (Macros et al, 2010) which consists of 22 items that assesses four aspects of cohesion: teamwork, valued roles, unity of purpose, and attraction to the group.   

The fact that this construct has been found to be so highly correlated with performance, it is important to continue to investigate ways in which it can be successfully coached.  Research has shown that cohesiveness can be effectively measured and coached (Carron, Bray and Eys 2002).   Therefore it is beneficial to the coach and the team to employ strategies to improve cohesiveness just as they would coach skill specific strategies in their chosen sport.  Further investigation into the research and future research could highlight the link (if any) to gender differences, cultural difference and different sports to cohesion and how this would be applied to the current popular coaching strategies.

 By Amy Rose



Carron A.V., Colman, M.M., Wheeler, J., & Stevens, D. (2002) Cohesion and performance in sport: A meta analysis. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 24, 168-188.

Carron, A.V., & Chelladurai, P. (1981). The dynamics of group cohesion in sport. The Journal of Sport Psychology, 3, 123-139.

Carron, A.V., Bray, S.R., & Eys, M.A., (2002) Team cohesion and team success in sport. Journal of Sport Sciences, 20, 119-126.

Carron, A.V., Spink, K.S., Prapavessis, K.  (1995) Team building and cohesiveness in the sport and exercise setting: use of indirect interventions. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 9(1), 61-72.

Halbrook, M., Blom, L.C., Hurley, K., Bell, R.J., & Holden, J. E. (N.D) Relationships among motivation, gender and cohesion in a sample of collegiate athletes. Journal of Sport and Behaviour, 35(1), 61-77.

Heuze, J.P., Sarrazin, P., Masiero, M., Raimbult, N., & Thomas, J.P. (2006) The relationships of percieved motivational climate to cohesion and collective efficacy in elite female teams. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 18, 201-218.

Marcos, F.M.L., Miguel, A.T., Olivia, D.S., Calvo, T.G. (2010) Interactive effects of team cohesion on perceived efficacy in semi-proffessional sport, Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 9, 320-325.

Senecal, J, Loughead, T.M., & Bloom, G.A. (2008) A season long team building intervention: examining the effect of team goal setting on cohesion. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 30, 186-199.

Turman, P.D. (N.D) Coaches and cohesion: the impact of coaching techniques on team cohesion in the small group setting. Journal of Sport Behaviour, 26(1), 86-104.

Williams, J.M., & Widmeyer W.N. (1991). The cohesion-performance outcome relationship in a coacting sport. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 13, 364-371.



3 thoughts on “Team Cohesion and Performance

  1. You focus solely on typically team and invasion sports, but is team cohesion not applicable to individual sports too? Running, swimming, cycling and such like are individual sports, but tend to form clubs and train together. So surely there is scope for team cohesion here? How does that compare in strength and importance to cohesion team sports? And then taking this further, what about identity? For example, Great Britain launched Team GB prior to the Olympics last year, which created one team for all athletes, and supporters. The athletes didn’t necessarily know their ‘team mates’, but had the same goal. Is this team cohesion?

    Also, be careful when making statements such as in your last paragraph as you need supporting evidence. If you use the phrase “Research has shown” then you must provide an example.

    • My apologies, i hadn’t realised i missed that last reference (it’s donw to a bad habit of writing first and referencing later). I’ve now edited the post to add that and fix one other reference that had an incorrect date. Thanks for pointing it out and thank you for your suggestions. It’s certainly something i will consider for future blogs as many of the coaching applications for team cohesion strategies involve coach to individual, coach to group, and individual to group interventions.

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