The organizational psychology of sport: Key issues and practical applications pages:235-255
Despite its importance in optimizing a team’s effectiveness, the application of sport psychology practices often gets overshadowed by the training of physical abilities, technical skills, and tactical insight. Yet, in order to fully reach the physical, technical, and tactical potential of athletes in team sports, the environmental circumstances need to be adequate. The present chapter will outline how the team coach can create optimal environments for team functioning in different facets of the coaching job. We will thereby focus on the latest research trends that identify the crucial markers of optimal environments for team functioning.
First, although most research and sport practitioners to date have focused on the coach as only leader of the team, an upcoming trend towards the importance of shared leadership can be observed: leadership is no longer entitled to one person but is shared within the team. Second, Haslam, Reicher, and Platow (2011, p. 44) pointed at a significant research gap by stating that “the causal role played by the social group remains conspicuously absent from most (if not all) previous treatments of leadership.” The Social Identity Approach to Leadership (Haslam et al., 2011) is the first to transform the group itself from a marginal to a central presence in its leadership analysis. Similar to the evolution in organizational research, the trend to put the social group instead of the leader in the centre of attention has recently entered the sport literature. In the present chapter, we will further build on this social identity approach by illustrating the importance of building a shared identity within the team. Third, creating an optimal team environment is fairly easy when everyone is playing his best game and the team consecutively wins its games. However, the crucial moments to maintain this positive environment is when the team faces challenges are set-backs. In this last part, we will identify the characteristic of highly resilient teams (i.e., teams that are able to effectively withstand stressors). To summarize, the present chapter will outline how the coach can facilitate the team’s performance by optimizing the above-mentioned factors: (1) the coach as facilitator of shared leadership; (2) the coach as identity manager; and (3) the coach as conflict manager to create highly resilient teams.