How contextual factors influence athlete experiences of team cohesion: an in-depth exploration Academic Article uri icon


  • 2018, 2018 European Association for Sport Management. Research question: In the name of high performance team practices, coaches and managers try to build stronger cohesion within their teams to improve athletic performance. However, uninformed attempts at increasing team cohesion may leave athletes feeling isolated from other people, groups, or experiences. The researchers examined how efforts toward building team cohesion in a U.S. collegiate setting influence athletes overall experience in and out of sport. Research methods: We conducted in-depth interviews with 21 former college athletes (9 males and 12 females), representing a variety of sports. Results and findings: Participants described family bonds with their teammates and a positive cohesionperformance relationship; yet, the participants also experience forced coach-initiated bonding and isolation, which spurred the need for an escape from sport, a dominant athlete role, and stressful exit from sport. Holding multiple life roles is highly beneficial for athletes, but the structure and management of teams and competitive environments limits rather than expands life roles, which ultimately informs performance and well-being. Implications: Team cohesion can and should be understood within the larger life context of athletes. To minimize potential negative consequences, athletes need to be given more agency over their team and life roles. Additional implications for theory and practice as well as future research are discussed.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Anderson, A. J., & Dixon, M. A.

citation count

  • 9

complete list of authors

  • Anderson, Arden J||Dixon, Marlene A

publication date

  • May 2019