Cohesion is a particular team dynamic that refers to how the individual members of a team work together and interact to promote a sense of “feeling part of the team”. Cooperation, mutual respect, effective communication, responsibility and ownership are all elements that combined together to promote team cohesion. In turn, team cohesion determines how successful a team is. Only positive outcomes for both the individual and the team can come from ensuring cohesion. It is the “glue” that holds a team together, keeping its members focused and determined to reach their common goals.
Cohesion is something that takes a lot of work and commitment and there are a number of key strategies that help promote team cohesion. While simply being in the same place and training at the same time does not guarantee a team has cohesion, it is important that this occurs on a regular basis to set the foundation for cohesion to develop. Without being in the same physical space as your teammates, there is no opportunity to develop the key elements (i.e., support, mutual respect, communication) that promote cohesion. Turning up to training also gives your teammates the message that you care about the team, the team’s success, and the other members of the team.
It is vital to hold and ensure attendance at regular team meetings, as these meetings hold a number of purposes. Firstly, it is one way of getting all the members of a team together off the field. While it is not essential that you socialise with all your teammates, having opportunities to get together and get to know one another is important. Secondly, the coach or captain of the team is able to spend time discussing what works and does not work for the team, and ask for input from all players. Asking for their suggestions and options on different matters creates a sense of feeling like an important part of the team. Any concerns players have can also be addressed in these meetings. Concerns may centre on training or game play, or may be related to some of the barriers to cohesion, such as lack of support or lack of communication. Either way, addressing and resolving any concerns team members have is important.
Goal setting is also something that can be done in team meetings. It is important that team goals are discussed at the start of the season and that these goals are reviewed regularly during the season. Goal setting involves identifying specific, realistic, measurable and attainable long- and short-term goals. If all members of a team are not only aware of the team goals, but have had an input in deciding what these goals should be, they therefore have an invested interest in achieving these goals. They also mean that all players are on the same page. They know what the steps are and they are all fighting towards the same thing. This can be very powerful in creating team cohesion. The goal setting process can also ensure that individual and team goals are not in conflict.