All for one, but not one for all? Positional competition and cohesion in interdependent sport teams

Sebastian Harenberg, Harold A. Riemer, Erwin Karreman, Kim D. Dorsch, Kyle Paradis, Luc Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting Abstractpeer-review


Elite sport teams usually consist of more players than available positions. Consequently, athletes have to compete for available playing time. Harenberg et al. (2015) defined this on-going and selective process as positional competition (i.e., teammates vying for the same, limited playing time in a position under the awareness of the coach). Previous research indicated positional competition to be linked to lower team conflict (Harenberg et al., 2015). However, its association with another important construct (i.e., cohesion) remains in question. As such, the current study examines the relationship between positional competition and cohesion in interdependent university team-sport athletes. Seven hundred and thirty-nine athletes (female n = 361, Mage = 20.29, SD = 1.96) completed the Positional Competition in Team Sport Questionnaire (Harenberg et al., 2014) and the Group Environment Questionnaire (Carron et al., 1985). Four multiple regression analyses with the dimensions of cohesion as the dependent variables and the dimensions of positional competition as predictors were conducted. The analyses revealed that greater variance from the task dimensions (Attraction to Group Task R2 = .25, p < .001, Group Integration Task R2 = .18, p < .001) than the social dimensions (Attraction to Group - Social R2 = .07, p < .001, Group Integration - Social R2 = .09, p < .001) of cohesion were explained by positional competition. The strongest positive predictors of the task cohesion dimensions were the communication of selection by the coach and the perceived push by teammates. The findings indicated that positional competition shared a positive relationship with task cohesion, largely dependent on the communication by the coach and the perceived performance push by teammates. The findings imply that coaches need to pay particular attention to the composition of positional competition and create transparency for players in their distribution of playing time. Limitations and future research directions are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S201-S201
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Jun 2016


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