Team Cohesion
Working Together for Group Success in High School Athletics

Sheryl Kline Cardiff M.A.

If you are part of a team, you have a responsibility to yourself and to your teammates who depend on you. How you perform and behave around your teammates can drive the effectiveness of a practice or the outcome of a competition. Highly cohesive teams that are closely united and who are committed to the groups’ performance goals can be indicative of group success (1). Every teammate has power. He has power over himself (ie: how much he has prepared and how much effort he is putting forth) as well as how he chooses to influence his teammates by his behavior.

Ideally teammates should know and like each other. This may create a sense of obligation to perform one’s best. Generally, liking and respecting a teammate can fuel individual effort for the greater good of the group. This can be especially useful during competitions when performance is fluctuating. Each member of a team has the power to elevate the team performance and even out these fluctuations for the best group performance possible.

Highly cohesive teams know each other and the type of support each person might need. One teammate may need a lot of verbal reassurance and encouragement after an error and another might need to know he has the teams support but need quiet, so he can re-group. It is helpful to get to know your teammates. Generally speaking, it is useful to minimize any action perceived as negative (ie: missing a serve or not getting to a ball in time), and take notice of something done well (ie: a nice set up or an impressive hustle to get to the ball). Positive actions deserve a lot of emotion via what ever means is appropriate for your sport (a pat on the back, high five, a few words). Negative actions can be neutralized (ie: ‘It’s ok, you’ll get the next one’) to keep performance related anxiety low and to keep confidence in check.

Finally, communications should be open and any conflicts addressed in the most constructive way possible. This includes understanding the leaders vision, all teammates having the opportunity to contribute their ideas, and resolve any ill feelings as soon as they surface.

1: Shawn Grimsley,