We’ve all been there. Sometimes a team performance just clicks. Every play works, everyone seems to read the mind of their team mates and be in the right place at the right time. It’s a wonderful feeling. Conversely there are awful times when you wonder why a team made up of such talented individuals just does not perform as a team, and in a team sport that is not a winning formula. When playing a team sport having cohesion and collective efficacy is an important factor in having a successful team performance. This is the ‘belief in their collective ability to perform successfully (Bandura, 1997).
Building efficacy can be split into three sections; before competition, during competition and after competition (Weinberg, Gold 2011). Before competition or the ‘production process’ involves building a strong team dynamic and building perceptions that each individual is physically prepared for the task in hand. Team building exercises such as army assault course days, cooking skills courses, or simply a social night out gives team members a chance to get to know each other better and to trust each other. Trust is an important team word. During competition is an important part of how the team performs together. In order to perform well the team needs to believe in one another’s capability and have confidence that each individual can play their part. Finally, the after competition or ‘evaluation process’, this part of the process has the potential to be the make or break of how quickly a team bounces back after a negative performance. After an unsuccessful performance evaluating what went wrong and why is crucial to help the team and individuals start to regain confidence.
To have an effective team, the individuals and coach need to create an effective team climate. This is not only the climate on the pitch, but also in the changing room, in the gym and everywhere else that the team works as a unit to improve together. At the end of the day the coach will have a major impact on the team climate (Zander, 1982). But it is up to the individuals and their perceived relationships with each other that will make the difference. Each individual will have a role to play in the team dynamic. For some people this will be the ‘joker’ in the changing room, playing pranks and keeping everyone relaxed before a game, all the way up to the captain who is the leader for the group. A person people can look up to and an important person determining the effectiveness of the group.
A player’s confidence in their ability to perform their role within the team will influence their performance beyond their self confidence to execute their individual skills (Bray et al, 2002). As a coach this is an important thing to consider when managing a team. For example putting someone in a role that they are not prepared for may have a negative effect on not only that individuals self confidence but also the belief that the team has in the ability for that person to carry out their role. Lack of confidence will have a negative impact on the team’s performance. Individuals won’t be fully focused on their roles, but instead will have it in the back of their minds to do each others, which will take away from the effectiveness of the team. Beware the player who thinks they can do it all themselves.
When comparing two teams the team with the best individual talents may not necessarily make the best team. This is because individual sacrifice towards the collective team goal by all players has a big impact on the team performance. This desire and want to perform as a team and work hard for each other is an environment that everyone involved in the team on and off of the pitch has to contribute to. The standards are set by the team, lead by the captain and maintained by the coach. A happy organized team where everyone is aware of their team role is a pre-requisite to success.