Can’t we all just get along? A two-phase innovative approach to team building with a U.S. collegiate rugby team

Itay Basevitch, Florida State University, USA
Amber Shipherd, Eastern Illinois University, USA

Theme: Mental training/interventions

Program ID: LEC-12D

Presentation: October 5, 2013 8:15 am - 9:30 am

Room: Rosedown


Research has often found short-term team building interventions in sport to be less effective than long-term interventions, but often the circumstances or resources do not allow for a comprehensive long-term intervention to be implemented (Weinberg & Williams, 2001). A two-phase mixed methods study was conducted to identify cohesion weaknesses in a collegiate rugby team and to determine if, and how, a short-term sport psychology team building intervention could facilitate cohesion. A mixed methods approach was selected in order to gain a more comprehensive picture of cohesion weaknesses, to guide the development of the intervention, and to enhance the validity of the findings by checking the results of the quantitative data against the results of the qualitative data. Athletes on a U.S. collegiate men’s rugby team completed the Group Environment Questionnaire (GEQ; Carron, Widmeyer, & Brawley, 1985), and the team’s Performance Enhancement Consultant (PEC) conducted interviews and observations. Data revealed that the team exhibited weaknesses in both task and social cohesion, specifically: leadership, communication, role incongruity, and lack of team identity and goals. A design based on the popular television show, “The Amazing Race,” was selected as an ideal way of addressing multiple shortcomings in a single day workshop. Athletes were split into small groups and raced to successfully complete six different team building stations, specifically chosen to target the cohesion weaknesses identified in phase 1. Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected by the PEC at two different points in time following the workshop and revealed significant immediate and long-term increases in team cohesion. Additionally, athletes noted the intervention (a) provided them with effective techniques to utilize while performing together, and (b) utilized an innovative design. Future directions for research and practice in short-term team building interventions will be identified.

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