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Individual Project; Team Work

Group dynamics in sport as in any other sphere of life is a social interaction of participants, group-members. It is concerned with the constantly changing characteristics of groups, sport team members in particular. It considers psychological environment within teams, focusing on such patterns as team formation, team cohesion, norming, motivation formation and leadership, performing and conflicts and loafing within sporting teams. These relations arise between people joined together, which interact with one another, are socially attracted to each other and have a shared identity, common goals, etc. According to Karlene Sugarman’s article on cohesion, “The finest to survive and succeed are those able to find their strength in cooperation, able to build upon mutual helpfulness, and responsibility foe one’s fellow teammates” (Sugarman, 2007). Personality processes, emotional and thoughts influence play an essential role when it comes to succeeding and there can be no minor details to be neglected. Within the framework of the teamwork sportsmen may use different techniques to take control over their thoughts and emotions in order to enjoy the process of training as well as the game itself. Pre-performance strategies for self-control lay the foundation for competition success. It is clear that competing may bring out any features of character in sportsmen within a team that is why psychological demands for them are significant. If both teams are equally skillful, it is mental preparation that helps team-members to control their emotions on the way to their victory. Scholars consider that regular mental training leads to the formation of healthy and generally favorable environment and has as strong influence on performance of a team as physical coaching. Emotional attitude and organisms’ reaction to stressful events will most likely exhaust sportsmen’ resources and affect the performance negatively. That is why there are certain strategies used for pre-performance stress withstanding. Positive in contrast to negative emotions are effective in sustaining motivation and change sportsmen attitude to the game. In team sport emotions can be initiated by many things depending on an individual.
Sportsmen should develop their coping response to any unexpected situation during a competition; it should become automatic and apply to definite circumstances. Due to pre-performance psychological strategy sports team-members may achieve desired emotional state, reach their potential. But in order to create healthy psychological environment not only emotions’ but also thought control is essential, both phenomena are in close interaction and work in both directions: emotions are caused by thoughts but on the other hand they influence thoughts, carrying sportsmen along the vicious circle of negative thoughts and emotions. The thoughts that run through the mind of teammates can affect the way they feel and perform. Athletes spend much time thinking over sport-related issues, however, in fact sportsmen seldom and even next to never plan their thoughts during training and the game itself. Though they are proposed to use techniques of dissociation, music during coaching, counting or alphabet games distracting attention from physical sensations such as pain and fatigue. It has already between proved by scholars that the way teammates think is closely linked and affects the way they perform, that is why thoughts and general positive so called “fighting spirit” and readiness to withstand difficulties do count.
Before characterizing and analyzing important steps in sports group dynamics, it is reasonable to give indispensable data on distinguishing between groups and teams. The matter is that there are different kinds of group understanding and classification, one of them subdivides them into working groups the members of which interact to share information, the members assist each other in performing successfully within individual field of responsibility; pseudo-team, the members of which are not interested in sharing common goals or objectives; potential team, the members of which are striving to perform as successfully as possible, trying to improve their performance impact; and real teams, the members of which are committed to shared purposes in sport, they hold themselves mutually accountable and are a maximum possible unit during the game. There are also high-performance teams, which have the characteristics real teams possess and add to that a deep concern towards each other’s personal growth and success. It outperforms all other kinds of teams. Teams have greater performance potential, but it demands more development and support from each other than work groups. A team is characterized by the presence of the following factors: significant performance need or opportunity, joint commitment to a common goal, real interdependency and mutual accountability, mutual success and progress professional concern. Team members also need such skills as problem-solving and decision-making in order to withstand the calamities they face within the framework of interpersonal interaction.
It is natural that a lot of factors influence the winning formula if there exists any, they are interdependent and none of them can be excluded from the list.
As for sports team composition, the attitude to its formation may be different and include various factors but there is an opinion that heterogeneous teams work and cooperate better, have greater potential. On the one hand heterogeneity promotes creating better working and training environment in which every teammate occupies his niche and altogether they comprise a whole. In heterogeneous groups sportsmen have different backgrounds and experiences, such team composition, are supposed to identify superior alternatives. Having differences in backgrounds and sport techniques usage team-members will have various personal characteristics and individual preferences, it is not an easy task to manage and coordinate the work of such a team though its potential cannot be denied. Considering all these peculiarities the optimal team composition should be formed. Team-members should together develop effective strategies of behavior on the field and teammates with different knowledge and experience have more chances to succeed (Molle, 2004). Effective teams with optimal team composition usually have clearly-set objectives, definite roles, responsibilities trust, support and leadership roles taking into account personal inclinations and capabilities and previous sports achievements which should be thoroughly considered.
It has already be been assented that leadership in team is necessary for team cohesion which means rational development and success. To avoid loafing athletes should feel trust towards other teammates, it is next to impossible without good organization of competitive setting and presence of trust in leadership, being a vital part of team cohesion. Good team leader is capable of prioritizing most important problems team has and sees the way the most responsible, skillful and competent team-members can solve them, contributing as much as possible to the key purpose or the result required to remain competitive in sport. A team leader will train, concentrate team’s efforts, support or entrust as is appropriate, the individual members in such a case will show themselves worth. Though it is up to the leader to create favorable “climate” and environment within a team and to contribute to team-members being on good terms with each other and favour team cohesion.
Team cohesion is considered to be a complex phenomenon and one of the components of group dynamics contributing to the winning formula implementation. There are opinions of scholars that team cohesion cannot be effectively built in sports, hence, each team is a collection of individuals with unique world oulook and a number of peculiarities, it is next to impossible to rally them even during the game let alone allround interaction of teammates on round the clock. It is rather obvious that cohesion in teams is a dynamic process the goal of which is to unite team-members and create such a state that all of them pursue common objectives and work to the fullest. The more cohesive a team is, the more it encourages peak performance in its teammates (Sugarman, 2007). People usually refer to a team as cohesive if all its members get along well, are devoted to their team and united in the pursuit of its goals. Such a team is to have well-defined responsibilities of each teammate, common purpose, good working and personal relations if possible, mutual respect and support. Moreover, Karlene Sugarman in the article on cohesion points out that an additional sign which shows the extent of team’s cohesion is “the frequency of statements of we and our, in contrast to statements of I, me and mine” (Sugarman, 2007).
Though cohesion takes a lot of time and efforts to achieve but actually it is worth doing it by joint efforts of team-members and team leaders. The Head Softball Coach Shellie McCall once noticed that team cohesion is like glue, which keeps a team concentrated and determined on the common goals. According to the recent survey conducted among the basketball team players of different teams, cohesion is a shared perception and there is a strong relationship between the two notions of success and cohesion, as though they may never exist without each other and are closely interrelated. Consequently, true team cohesion inevitably leads to mutual understanding and team success, though there are still other factors, which may be in the way of professional teammates’ gaining results. A tendency observed manifests that real teams exhibit even stronger effects than non-sport real groups and there is a powerful relationship between cohesion and group success in sport teams. It is clear that for every team its success is the product of an integrated accumulation of all team members’ exertions. There are four main factors contributing to cohesion, which are personal, environmental, team and leadership and they fall into such categories as personal perception of the social group, attraction to it, perception of group task and attraction to it.
Success in competition is most likely attainable is each team member totally concentrates on common task and shares team’s beliefs and prospects, being ready to contribute to them actively at any time. Team-building strategies are often based on this approach to competition and they should be composed and implemented so that coaches make sure that teammates have a high level of shared commitment and are all satisfied with the way the goals are posed, have a common vision of attaining them.
Team goals should be clear and definite; they may concern either the nearest competition or some event or gaining status in the prospect of several years. In this case goals may be short-term and long-term, some scientists also single out intermediate goals. It is considered that in practical terms short-term goals are by far the most important but on the other hand sportsmen should not neglect setting long-term goals as while short-term goals are basically process-orientated they may be compared to concessive steps resulting in achievement of a long-term goal. Any goals of a team should be put taking into account objective reality, real opportunities of sportsmen and should become more and more complex but still feasible. Goals of each sport team are to be monitored and revised when there is necessity, the approach should not be to rigid but flexible and individual paying attention to each athlete, especially while working with experienced athletes.
Goal-setting is an essential part of motivational technique and according to a popular approach of SMART-goal setting, they should be specific, measurable, adjustable, realistic and time-based or time-bound. Moreover, teammates should possess self-efficiency, those who have a high level of it are usually more motivated. As it helps to concentrate attention, recall positive experiences and generate a sense of self-efficiency and confidence.
Sportsmen in team should have channel their energy effectively and for that they need a good motivation which is a pivot of their successful performance. Motivation assesses all aspects of team-members’ behavior. Being dynamic and multifaced, motivation can be handled in a way to contribute to superior sporting performance. There are different approaches to motivation, it can be extrinsic or intrinsic. The former motivated sportsmen participate in competitions or contests because they are inwardly motivated, find this activity enjoyable. The latter do it because they are inspired by external rewards and recognition. If sportsmen in teams lack motivation, they exhibit a sense of helplessness and insufficient interest in the outcome.
All the components mentioned contribute to successful performance of a team, professionalism, mutual respect, decision-making skills, flexibility persistence if they are all developed and well-balanced they will lead to maintaining a successful sports team.

Mello, A. (2004). Team compostion. University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Sugarman, K. (2007). Group dynamics. Cohesion. <http://www.psychwww.com/sports/cohesion.htm>


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