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Leadership and Team Cohesion

Team cohesion is essential for a team's success. Vealey (2005) explains that for a team to have the success they need task cohesion and social cohesion. Meaning the team has to interact in an effective manner to achieve a successful performance as well as get along socially or interpersonally. Since interpersonal conflict cannot be avoided when you have a group of people in constant contact with each other, Vealey (2005) provides ideas on how team cohesion can be handled. Forming, storming, norming, and performing are the four developmental stages that a team can go through several times in a season to address conflicts. Vealey (2005) also gives a model for team cohesion, "How we do it here." The most interesting component I found in the model was criticism 101. It tells coaches that they need to teach their athletes and even assistant coaches on how to take critical feedback and why coaches give criticism.

In Anderson and Aberman (2006) it talks about Anderson going through a tough few years with team and coaching staff. One of the main problems was the coaching staff felt like they were coaching separate teams within a team because of a lack of communication and critical feedback to one another. Through Anderson's assessment of his team he found a few key things that needed to change, take responsibility and do not blame others, do not mistake effort for effectiveness, and become a better coach by not trying to do everything for the players. Not having the coaches do everything for the players is an idea that should resonate with all coaches. The generation that is being coached on teams right now is a generation that is used to getting told that they are special and used to having things laid out for them. The millennium generation used to getting ribbons for just participating or having parents fix a problem they do not want to deal with (CBS News, 2008). A decision the coach has to make is should they talk to the athletes like a therapist to get them to do what I want or do I give them the tools they need to be successful and let them figure it out instead of laying out step by step what they want them to do.

One tool a coach can use to guide their athletes on the right path without showing them step by step on how to succeed as a team is have an effect team captain(s). Janssen (2004) cited that leadership is just as important if not more important than the talent on a team. It is hard for a team that cannot work as one cohesive unit and be talented to be consistently successful. Once a captain is selected, they can be the bridge between a coach and their team. Coach can help captions become strong leaders to promote team unity by holding weekly meetings to make sure the team goals are being pursued (Janssen, 2004). An effective team captain can also help with themes that help promote effective team building. Pain and Harwood (2009) found common themes to be togetherness, inclusion, open communication, training quality, self-understanding, and player ownership. By linking the gap between coaches and players with a captain whom coaches trust and players respect the team is more apt to succeed in the team's goals.

Sara Goral

Anderson, J., & Aberman, R. (2006). Why Good Coaches Quit.
Janssen, J. (2004). The Team Captain's Leadership Manual.
Pain, M., & Harwood, C. (2009). Team Building Through Mutual Sharing and Open Discussion of Team Functioning. The Sport Psychologist (23), 523-542.
The Age of the Millenials. (2008, May 25). Retrieved from 60 Minutes:
Vealey, R. S. (2005). Coaching for the Inner Edge.

What makes a leader?

Leadership is something that some people have, and some people don't. I do agree you can help young players become better leaders, but the real leaders come out naturally. This is my opinion because I have seen the best leaders do it. They don't need to be chosen, they set the standard for what is expected on the team and are in charge of getting the team to that level. While talking about former great leaders, Rick Pitino of the Louisville Men's Basketball team said, "Each had his own style but they demanded excellence from the people around them. Not just once in a while, not just when things were going good for them, but all the time." (Janssen 2004) I couldn't agree more with this statement as the team captain and leader needs to set the bar so the other teammates can follow his/her lead. It doesn't matter if you lead by example or vocally, someone needs to step up and take responsibility.

Team captains need to be on the same page as the coach. I have always said that the team captain/leader needs to be a coach on the floor. The Pain and Hardwood article really focuses on having everyone on the same page so they can share their feelings with each other and minimize conflict within a team. (Pain and Hardwood 2009) He needs to know the game plan, philosophy, and key points and be able to vocalize these aspects to his team in the game. A leader needs to be able to hold the team together during rough times as well. In most cases, the whole team will not get along. This is where the team captain needs to involve himself and work out the conflict. With this you can build better team cohesion and really get your team to be more like a family. Vealey really focuses on the importance of team cohesion, as it is the ability of team members to interact effectively in their pursuit of team goals and group satisfaction. (Vealey 2005) The team needs to be able to trust and listen to the leader in order to be effective and get positive results. This is why it is important for a coach to choose the right player to be the leader.

In my experiences with sports, a leader always evolves over time. Sometimes coaches don't have enough time to wait to see who is going to take the responsibility. This is when a coach has to find an effective way to choose the captain of the team. Some coaches automatically choose seniors as captains; others use worksheets with different categories to put specific players in to ask the players who they think is best suited for the position. I believe that it is important to get the players opinion because they need to be able to get along and listen to the captain. I also think it is important for the coach to have his say in the choosing of a captain because he needs to be able to trust a player to hold the other players in order throughout the season. I think the best way to choose a captain is to get the players opinion but have the coach ultimately make the decision on which player he believes will push the team to where it needs to go. Our book "Why Good Coaches Quit" talks a lot about adapting to new teams and new players to keep team chemistry and cohesion as high as it can be. (Anderson and Aberman 2006) This is something coaches have to do at a yearly basis because not all leaders are the same, but if you can adjust as a coach to the leader you think will be best, you can have a positive relationship no matter what kind of leader the player is.

Leadership is something special that not everyone is able to succeed at. It is especially rare now with the "millenials" of this generation, where everyone expects rewards for minimal effort. (CBS News 2008) Real leaders will not let this generational stereotype effect them and will use it to work harder. A leader needs to have fallen down to know what it takes to get back up, so he/she can show the rest of the team what it takes to overcome adversity and be a winner.

-Trevor Maring

Works Cited
• Anderson, J., & Aberman, R. (2006). Why Good Coaches Quit.
• Janssen, J. (2004). The Team Captain's Leadership Manual.
• Pain, M., & Harwood, C. (2009). Team Building Through Mutual Sharing and Open Discussion of Team Functioning.
• The Age of the Millenials. (2008, May 25). Retrieved from 60 Minutes:
• Vealey, R. S. (2005). Coaching for the Inner Edge.

Internal Leadership

According to Duke Men's basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski, "...the single most important ingredient after you get the talent is internal leadership" (Janssen, 2004). It is essential for athletes who are part of a team to realize the importance of taking responsibility for their team. Internal leadership is critical in order to have a successful team. Coaches must recognize that part of the responsibility for establishing internal leadership falls on them. Coaches and players alike need to understand the different ways in which an individual can lead and why they are both important. Lastly, when players develop internal leadership it gives you a decided advantage (Janssen, 2004).

It is important for coaches to realize that part of the responsibility for developing internal leadership falls on their shoulders. First of all, there is a lack of leadership skills among athletes today. This lack of leadership may be due to the extreme growth of adult-run youth sport programs (Janssen, 2004). Some people today believe that young adults have been given everything they want, and are driven to please only themselves (CBS 60 minutes). Whatever the reason may be, coaches cannot assume their athletes will establish internal leadership on their own. Second, like physical skills, leadership skills must be taught, developed and practiced (Janssen, 2004). It is important for coaches to put in time and effort to work with their leaders and help them develop the necessary skills to lead their teammates. Third, coaches must have open lines of communication between their players and staff. Allowing players to communicate openly with coaches will help build a sense of ownership and involvement (Pain and Harwood, 2009).

Effective leaders don't always lead the exact same way. Some leaders are more vocal while others lead by example. Each type of leader is necessary to establish positive internal leadership. First, vocal leaders are important because they can serve as the main communication between players and coaches. Vocal leaders take charge by speaking up in the locker room, during timeouts, or out on the floor. Vocal leaders gain much credibility through their understanding of the game and their ability to communicate the coach's philosophy to their teammates. Second, you need players who lead by example. These players work hard on the court and stay out of trouble off the court. Players who lead by example will gain credibility through their actions.

"Teams that have strong leadership have a decided advantage," Rick Pitino. Internal leadership results in athletes taking personal responsibility for their physical training, mental training, and commitment to the team (Vealey Ch.6). Athletes who don't need to be told to get in the weight room during the summer and do it because of intrinsic motivation and commitment to the team are a big advantage. These athletes are committed to giving their best effort and these attitudes are usually contagious.

Players must understand that the team is their team. A sense of ownership and responsibility must exist among the players for the team to be successful. Positive internal leadership will take talent to the next level. When players develop internal leadership a real team is formed and the victories will always taste sweeter.

Dan DeWitt

Cohesion & Leadership: Negatives to Positives

Creating cohesion is a challenge for all coaches. Teams include athletes with different responsibilities and effective interaction is a critical component of goal achievement. Examining the dynamic nature of cohesion and leadership provides interesting perceptions on threats to success. Coaches panic when conflict arises and fail to see the value in resolving interpersonal issues. Negative perceptions also stifle the use of criticism as a tool for performance enhancement. Reviewing specific examples reveals how to turn potentially negative team constructs into useful tools.

When building an effective team culture, conflicts and negative thoughts may emerge. Coaches typically view this as detrimental to team cohesion. According to Vealey, short-term negative feelings are far outweighed by the long-term benefits of openly expressing opinions in an honest manner (2005). The University of Minnesota baseball coaching staff meetings provide prime examples of appropriate use of full disclosure. Voicing opinions made it possible for each coach to accept their role in creating team problems (Anderson & Aberman, 2006). This group made use of feedback to develop trust in one another and reflect on the absence of important leadership components. Players may use sharing of personal stories to share information on their character, motives, and desires to emphasize the importance of team unity (Pain & Harwood, 2009). The idea that teams must "surf a wave" of team conflict describes how disagreements can be a source of learning and growing (Vealey, 2005). Leadership emphasizes the importance of involving athletes in addressing issues like lack of playing time (Janssen, 2004). This conserves time and energy as it prevents players from involving their parents, which Sixty Minutes describes as common practice for individuals born in the millennial generation. Establishing team leaders creates a built-in support network for handling conflict and other sensitive issues.

Providing criticism is another issue that is difficult for coaches to manage. It is important that individuals explain their intent when offering feedback (Vealey, 2005). The person offering the criticism must phrase it constructively and the receiver must accept it in a positive manner (Vealey, 2005). Criticism coming from a team leader may focus on changes that need to be made to improve performance (Janssen, 2004). Assigning the role of the captain to a specific player lends authority in delivering criticism to the group. A lack of authority was precisely the issue John Anderson faced among his baseball coaching staff at the University of Minnesota as he assigned tasks to everyone but himself resulting in loss of control (Anderson & Aberman, 2006). Coaches sight a lack of leadership in many programs as a result of organized youth sport participation (Janssen, 2004). There are currently few opportunities to manage conflict and accept criticism due to parent involvement resulting in the development of inadequate leadership skills. This issue is found in the workforce as the newest generation is a product of this adult-oriented system. Millennials only react positively to praise limiting their ability to accept and learn from constructive feedback. This generational condition creates a new challenge for coaches in developing methods of communication.

Teams with adequate cohesion balance conflict and criticism. Players take on specific roles in the interest of developing dynamic team interactions to enhance understanding and improve confidence (Pain & Harwood, 2009). Leadership and cohesion are critical elements of creating positive sport experiences for all team members. Examining various philosophies provides insight on how best to extract positive team building out of potentially negative situations.

Anderson & Aberman, (2006). Why good coaches quit. Monterey, CA: Coaches Choice
Janssen, J. M.S., (2004), The team captain's leadership manual, Cary, NY: Winning the Mental Way
Pain, M., & Harwood, C. (2009). Team Building Through Mutual Sharing and Open Discussion of Team Functioning. The Sport Psychologist
Vealey, R. (2005). Coaching for the Inner Edge. Morgantown, VW: Fitness Information Technologies.
The Age of the Millenials in the Workplace, 60 Minutes (May, 2008) 4126233n&tag=contentMain;contentBody

Athletic Leadership

What coaches say to their players determines a lot. Coaches, in the eyes of the player, are the motivators and teachers in sport and are looked upon to help guide a team to victory. But there are some things that coaches can't do to motivate players. They can holler and scream motivational words until they're blue in the face, but it is ultimately up to the athletes themselves whether or not they can motivate one another and themselves. We call these individuals the "leaders" of the team. Whether they are doing so with their voice, or with their playing ability, they can prove to be a catalyst of good play for a team.

Coaches often choose captains for their teams. These are the individuals that they think can fill the role of motivator and team leader. The best way to pick your captain, according to Janssen, is to identify who meshes well with your coaching style and philosophy (Janssen 2004). When players accept the way that you coach and buy into a program, they are definitely more likely to be the ones that are a positive influence on the team. Even though this can be one of the best ways to pick a captain, coaches commonly use the "players vote the captain" approach to picking the team leaders. This can be seen as an effective method also for picking a team leader, as players pick the athletes that they look up to and think will guide their team in a good direction.

Another important aspect that teams need to have in order to be successful for a long period of time is good team cohesion. When players are all on the same page and are clear about what they direction they want to take their team, it really helps define their goals and creates great team chemistry (Anderson and Aberman 2006). Something that goes along with this is that athletes on the team need to treat one another as equals and not use the "seniority rules" kind of approach. When team leaders use abuse their power in this way, they are not proving to the athletes that have put them in a position of team leader that they should be there and can divide in many ways. Peers won't trust one another anymore and the hopes for team chemistry and cohesion would be a distant memory.

Team cohesion is a continual roller coaster ride that changes the inner workings of a team on a constant basis (Vealey 2005). There are always new problems that arise between players and coaches, or between the athletes themselves that need attending to on a constant basis, especially during a game situation. When thing aren't going in your teams favor, players can become irrational with one another and the team chemistry can begin to dissolve. But it is in these moments where communication and leadership can help solve the issue and create a balance within the team so that they can perform as a unit again.

Even though these leaders are a valuable asset to a team, coaches do not spend a whole lot of time teaching them the necessary tools that they can use to help lead the team. Coaches expect leaders to be a secondary coach for the team but they don't always get the proper training to do so. Coaches need to inform their leaders of how they can inspire their peers even when it seems like nothing they can do or say can change their minds. A team's ability to get along with one another without the mediation of a coach can prove to be helpful in situations where all hope seems lost.

A way that coaches can help build better team cohesion is by allowing them to take part in team building exercises, much like the ones that we did in class. When coaches are specific in the goals that they want accomplished in a task, players can learn how to rely on one another and learn what it takes to be a team leader. More importantly, they learn that not everybody can be the leader of a group (Pain & Hardwood's 2009). A good example of this can be seen when there are all-star games for professional sports. They have so many superstars that there is very little team camaraderie with another. Even though they are supposed to be an unbelievable team, they still struggle with even the simplest task of communication which makes them unable to use their skill sets as effectively as if they had selected one leader and agreed to follow him. That was a problem talked about in Anderson and Aberman. When too many athletes try and take charge of a team, nobody is there to follow a set plan. They just keep talking at each other and nothing is able to get done (Anderson and Aberman 2006).

Being a team captain is a huge undertaking for any athlete. I have been lucky enough to be captain of both my football and golf team while I was in high school so I have had a little experience dealing with team conflicts and over anxious coaching. I was a much more vocal leader and I enjoyed getting my teammates excited about playing a sport that we loved to play. When I coach athletes now I inform them about how important it is that they take leadership roles seriously. Even if they aren't a team recognized leader, they can still help in the guiding of a team's success. Leaders are a special breed when it comes to sports, but there is no rule that says that somebody can't be one.

Janssen, J. (2004). The Team Captain's Leadership Manual
Anderson, J., & Aberman, R. (2006). Why Good Coaches Quit
Vealey, R. S. (2005). Coaching for the Inner Edge
Pain, M., & Harwood, C. (2009). Team Building Through Mutual Sharing and Open Discussion of Team Functioning. The Sport Psychologist

A Cohesive Unit

A Cohesive Unit

According to Vealey, team cohesion is "the team's ability to interact effectively in their pursuit of team goals and group satisfaction" (Vealey, 2005). I think this can also be said in reverse; a team that has set goals and is motivated creates team cohesion. It is a constant cycle and as long as the cycle has a force making things work such as a coach; the cycle in constantly turning and developing stronger characteristics. In Chapter 3 of Vealey, motivation was discussed and emphasized. Intrinsic motivation is created by feeling accepted and belonging. In both Vealey and the Pain and Harwood article, feeling acceptance and belonging creates intrinsic motivation which creates optimal experience giving the team a better sense of each other and performing better. I found it interesting that Vealey discussed how women's teams performed better when there was an emphasis on team cohesion than men's teams. Women for the most part work better in groups, but there can also be a lot of tension created by teammates.

The Inner Edge is about optimal experience, development, and performance and it is hard to believe that one can't lead to the other. Optimal experience is achieved by feeling acceptance and belonging and knowing that your teammates trust you and depend on you as you do them. That feeling creates motivation which helps team cohesion. Team cohesion, as shown with research improves performance. Optimal development is achieved through that dependence on one another and taking responsibility for the team and your actions. Teammates feel obligated and responsible for one another and when something happens to a teammate, they step in as much as they can to help. This is can all be done with facilitation of the coach.

Anderson and Aberman discuss how Coach Anderson had to develop from his own way and evaluating himself as a coach and assessing his problems. With focusing on his problems, team problems started to solve for themselves. As problems were resolving, players took responsibility for their actions as well as letting teammates know what actions were appropriate or not. Teammates were developing leadership skills and applying them to the team to make the team a more cohesive unit. Coaches play an important role in team cohesion. Facilitation of team and social cohesion starts with the coach communicating what his philosophy of coaching is and what is expected. The leaders of a team take responsibility for these expectations and effectively communicate with the rest of the teammates so that everyone is on the same page. An understanding of each other as teammates and also of the coach creates for a positive environment. This positive environment allows for intrinsic motivation to be achieved creating team cohesion, which in return can improve a team's performance. Optimal experience, optimal development, and optimal performance can therefore be achieved when a team is one cohesive unit.

Molly Augustine

Anderson & Aberman (2006). Why Good Coaches Quit. Chapter 6: Team Cohesion.
Pain, M., & C. Harwood (2009). Team Building Through Mutual Sharing & Open Discussion of Team Functioning. TSP, 23, 523-542.
Vealey, R. (2005). Coaching for the Inner Edge. Morgantown, VW: Fitness Information Technologies.

Team Cohesion

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According to Vealey (2005), team cohesion is the ability of a team to pursue group goals and satisfaction through effective social and sport-specific interactions. A cohesive team environment is essential to the overall success of a team both on and off the field and requires active cooperation and effort of athletes and coaches in developing and maintaining a unified foundation for pursuing team goals. By facilitating goal commitment and effective communication, strong team cohesion can enhance sport performance and increase the likelihood of continued sport participation and the development of intrinsic motivation throughout the team (Vealey, 2005). In order to develop a cohesive team environment, it is critical of both coaches and athletes to be aware of and prepared to handle the potential obstacles of team building. Acknowledging both positive and negative outcomes of team cohesion, athletes and coaches will experience the greatest opportunity for success in all aspects of sport.
Creating a unified team environment requires a clear organizational mission (Anderson & Aberman, 2006), an open communication mechanism (Pain & Harwood, 2009) and the development of strong leadership (Janssen, 2004). Anderson and Aberman (2006) illustrate the necessity of instilling a clear philosophy and team mission in the foundation of team cohesion through an examination of the University of Minnesota baseball team culture during the mid 1990s. With a tangible and identifiable team mission, Coach Anderson and his athletes and staff were able to establish team expectations and a clear basis for the social and leadership development throughout the program. Establishing and maintaining team goals require an organized and honest medium for communication and feedback through which team functioning can be discussed and effectively cultivated (Pain & Harwood, 2009). Team leadership must also be identified among coaches and athletes in order to determine team roles and delegate responsibility in team environment building (Janssen, 2004). Team leaders should exemplify the organizational mission and encourage the rest of the team to follow suit in order to develop team commitment to goals and expectations. Developing an overall understanding of the team mission and creating an environment through which leaders emerge and communication is encouraged, team cohesion has the opportunity to flourish.
Open communication, constructive feedback, strong leaders and tangible team goals are the foundation of developing team cohesion but there are potential obstacles to maintaining positive team cohesion. Vealey (2005) explains that the "groupthink" mentality may emerge from team cohesion and lead to superficial decision-making on and off the field. Without critical, intelligent decision making, sport performance may suffer and team goal achievement may be hindered. Hyperconformity may result from uncontrolled team cohesion which could decrease autonomous decision making among athletes, devalue individuality and in extreme cases, lead to dangerous hazing practices (Vealey, 2005). Janssen (2004) points out that a lack of leadership development may also prove challenging to team cohesion. Coaching the "millenials" poses a new challenge to team leadership in that athletes of this generation grew up playing in "no loser" leagues with constant praise and rewards for minimal effort (CBS News, 2008). Without an inherent sense of team ownership and a more self-centered mentality, "millenials" require leadership instruction and example on the part of coaches and need to develop a sense of competency and autonomy through leadership opportunities created within the organization. Recognizing the unique needs of individual athletes and addressing them through flexible, constructive coaching should enable the growth and maintenance of team cohesion.
Overall, team cohesion is developed through coaches and athletes working to achieve common goals and living up to the team philosophy both on and off the field. Building a unified team environment requires constant feedback, direct communication, identifiable leaders and developing a team culture within the parameters of the organizational mission. Although obstacles may present themselves, coaches and athletes must effectively work through them in order to maintain team cohesion and to create the opportunity for sport performance and positive character traits to develop and withstand the challenges of the current sport climate.
-Dani Benson

Anderson, J., & Aberman, R. (2006). Why Good Coaches Quit.
Janssen, J. (2004). The Team Captain's Leadership Manual.
Pain, M., & Harwood, C. (2009). Team Building Through Mutual Sharing and Open Discussion of Team Functioning. The Sport Psychologist (23), 523-542.
The Age of the Millenials. (2008, May 25). Retrieved from 60 Minutes:
Vealey, R. S. (2005). Coaching for the Inner Edge.

Leadership and trust

The importance of leadership in any type of group of people is often overlooked until it is missing. A classic example of "you don't know what you've got until it's gone." Leadership comes naturally to some at a very young age. Watching youth play together this becomes obvious by their ability to organize and regulate themselves when playing. What many fail to recognize is the importance of working on leadership as an individual or even as a group. Janssen (2004) does a fantastic job of addressing this and stressing the importance of using leadership to bridge the gap between a coach and their team. The more familiar and comfortable a team is with their coach the stronger the level of trust is. As a coach, all you really want is to have your team trust in you. Janssen also stresses the importance of having a leader who can regulate within the team itself.
As a coach you can't, and at times don't want to be, with your players all the time. You need to have somebody who will help you uphold the values of your program. Pain and Hardwood (2009) show the importance of having everyone on the same page with their exploration of team interventions. In the setting players felt comfortable enough to share their feelings, not matter their place on the team. This helps instill a level of trust and self regulation among players to achieve things on their own. If a problem were to rise among them in the future I am sure the team would be able to handle it on their own if a coach is not required in the intervention. Leaders help create and maintain team cohesion. Creating a level of trust and dependability is something that helps turn a god team into a great one. Vealey (2005) gives an example of this when discussing the How we do it here ideas. Establishing a culture among your program, what is to be expected, is very important. The leaders play a very strong role in this, both by example and vocally. When Julie Foudy went to help unload the bus, her roommate knew she didn't have to go help. But she wanted too. Her teammate was willing to give some extra effort so she was as well. When you lose that level of cohesion, it becomes difficult to be successful.
Anderson and Aberman (2006) give the example of their struggles in the Big Ten tournament and how important cohesion can be. This problem not only exists between teammates, but among coaches and between the coaches and team as well. If everyone isn't on the same page and shares a common goal, it is very difficult to achieve this goal. This is why the communication level between all groups is very important. Pain and Hardwood (2009) showed how effective structured communication can be. It doesn't always have to be structured, but the communication needs to exist at some level, Janssen also talks about the importance of this, especially between the coach and captains. As the 60 minutes segment addresses, communicating with younger people can be very difficult. Youth today grew up in a completely different way than what is considered a "traditional" upbringing. They have opportunities and resources that others never even heard of while growing up. This is why it is important to continue to work on leadership. Just as a coach wants his players to be good leaders, it is just as necessary for a coach, who is always in a leadership role, to continue their desire to improve. Trying to have consistent success with little to no leadership is a very frustrating task. Sometimes the hardest part is recognizing you don't have it.

Brian Jungwirth

Teamwork and Perception

How one communicates to athletes determines motivation and dedication to the sport. Specifically, the coach and team leaders convey this message. When these leaders reinforce each other, no team member would be confused about the message of the program. Within lies the problem: if communication is not shared within the administrative bodies of the sport, team cohesion falls and lack of direction arises. Though it seems shallow, perception of these messages reflects the ability of the leaders and is inadvertently going to determine the success of the team. Communication and leadership can help a team flourish, but too much of it can drown out the real problems.

Pain and Harwood give an example of a team that worked well through open discussion. What happened were improved results by increased winning and social cohesion. By talking problems out, the team knew each other better and problems could be solved. With discussion, there were no direct leaders, but the team as a whole democratically decided how to address a problem. Though it worked out for this soccer club, one has to pay attention to the ages of this team. These were elite athletes who were committed to the sport and were mature enough to make good decisions. In addition, this team was small enough that even the quiet players got a say through a written questionnaire. The team realized that conflict is constantly changing and that is why that had to continue to deliberate. In order to build cohesion, the team has to constantly adapt (Vealey). Because communication was straightforward, this team succeeded.

The opposite happened with Anderson's baseball team. Anderson's problems were that he had too many leaders and that he forgot the goal of the program. Anderson had to write out his philosophy again and clearly state it to the team. He also had to collaborate with his assistant coaches to sort out the problems and find solutions. Anderson was able to achieve team cohesion in this fashion. As Vealey states, "[c]ohesion is the ability to interact effectively in their pursuit of team goals and group satisfaction." Anderson was able to dissolve cliques that were forming due to the assistant coaches acting autonomously (Vealey). Through collaboration, this team succeeded. People working together aids in removing mixed messages because conflict is openly discussed.

However, others argue that a strong leader is all that the team needs to resolve conflict. Janssen argues that team captains are the medium between the coach and the player and that through them conflict can mediated and messages clarified. This works to an extent, but it undermines the coach. That is why Jansen also recommends that students nominate team captains and that the coach makes the final decision. From the case studies above, the coach has to compensate for the inexperience of the team captains. This new Millennial generation (our athletes) needs to heard or their performance will become lackluster (CBS). If the coach is primarily concerned about winning and the athletes just want to have fun, the competing goals need to be resolved. Communication is the medium in which both the athlete and coach need to collaborate.

-Sam Suber ◕_◕

Leadership: Making the best of what you've got!

What perfect timing! This topic could not have come at a better time for a chance to do some real-life problem solving and application of concepts. I am in the middle of week two of the season and have had many discussions in the last several days with the other coaches of our program with regards to both coach and athlete leadership. I am hoping to do a little trouble shooting here and would welcome some/any feedback as I attempt to apply some new found knowledge.

We (the coaches) have identified 3 main leadership issues thus far:
1. Of our 2 captains, we have yet to see much vocal leadership in practice. Before and after practice, they are much more communicative.
2. With 4 coaches, how can we create a sense of equity and ownership for each coach?
3. What is our plan for working with younger swimmers to develop leadership qualities in order to build leadership for the future?

As indicated by Janssen, captains are responsible for setting the tone for the team, including work ethic, attitude, mental toughness and team chemistry (2004). Our program is currently struggling to attract and keep new swimmers. Because of this, we really need to monitor the team environment carefully. As of yet, our captains have yet to demonstrate the work ethic and attitude that we would like modeled for the younger girls. As a 7-12 grade team, we are working with a wide range of swimmers, from brand new to extremely experienced. We are hoping to use work ethic and attitude as unifying factors, as they are 2 things that don't depend on ability. Janssen also indicates that developing athlete leaders is a very important aspect of coaching, which makes it painfully clear that we have failed to prepare these two for their roles (2004). The question then becomes: what can we do to make the best of the opportunity these two captains have to lead?
Our program fits into the 34% that choose their captains by players voting (Janssen, 2004), so the remainder of the team sees leadership potential in them and feels they are strong models. To bring out their good qualities, we need to implement some of the concepts listed in Janssen's 20 tips (2004). We will focus on the following: acknowledging (and communicating) the importance of the captains, having further discussions about our expectations for the captains and providing more opportunities for the captains to lead during practice. By focusing on these 3 ideas (for now), hopefully we can work towards developing the leadership skills discussed by Vealey (2005). By helping the captains become more assertive and confident, they will function more effectively in their leadership roles. Additionally, we would like to work with them to help us "provide performance urgency and interpersonal support" in practice and at meets (Vealey, 2005).

Having a bit of additional support and motivation from the captains will definitely lighten the load for the four coaches. We are in a very unique situation in that each of the three assistant coaches is responsible for a group of athletes' conditioning and skill development. We do not practice together after the first two weeks of the season, and therefore become detached from those at other pools. Pain and Harwood (2009) pointed out that "team cohesion is one of the cornerstones upon which to build effective team performances" and we have to work very hard to create cohesion between team members when we are separated for the majority of the season. In order counteract this separation we have decided that it is important for each coach to have ownership of a particular job or task and share their products with the remaining coaches. Between the four of us, we each cover one of the following: administrative duties and communication (parents, athletic office, etc), physical conditioning, mental conditioning, and organizational duties (paperwork, meet preparation, etc). We have already begun incorporating a version of the "team meeting" concept with a focus on training girls to set appropriate goals and developing a plan for achieving those goals (Pain & Harwood, 2009). We have implemented these meetings as a whole team, in cross-sectional age groups and in groups that compete together. Anonymous feedback from the girls has indicated an appreciation for the chance to work with different groups of people and spend ample practice time deciding on goals and a plan. In addition to allowing girls to build team cohesion, the team and small group meetings are allowing chances for autonomy, which we know to be an important aspect in developing intrinsic motivation (Vealey, 2005). Ultimately, we are looking for a team that will "take care of each other, support each other and police each other" by "improving team chemistry and empowering the players to think for themselves" (Anderson & Aberman, 2006).

In addition to immediately addressing issues with the captains and coaches, we will be implementing a plan for training new leaders. Fortunately, we can use many of the same exercises that we will be using for the current captains. Additionally, we will have more time to work with each athlete before they are nominated to be captains. The program for the younger girls will include a slow progression through Janssen's tips (2004) and more practice activities, like putting them in charge of small activities or tasks that increase in difficulty as they get older.

We are really hopeful that implementing these changes will improve our team cohesion and season's end product. I just wish we had more time to work on all of it!

Jessica Gust


Anderson & Aberman (2006). Why Good Coaches Quit.
Janssen (2005). Team Captain's Leadership Manual
Pain & Harwood (2009). Team Building Through Mutual Sharing & Open Discussion of Team Functioning. TSP, 23, 523-542.
Vealey, Robin S. (2005). Coaching for the Inner Edge.