Motivation And Stress In Teamwork Psychology Essay

A team is any group of people organised to work together interdependently and cooperatively to meet the needs of what is In front of them, by accomplishing a purpose and setting goals, weather they be on an on field situation or off field situation. (Martens, 1997)

Coaches have many responsibilities beyond coaching, which include aspects of team management and media portrayal, However a coaches main role is to improve a teams performance by focussing on the problems in the team and finding solutions or strategies to help improve the teams overall performance. (Martens, 1997)

The team discussed in this paper, has had a successful season, qualifying for school nationals was a surprise to the team, and improved the team and schools overall confidence within the sport. Throughout the season, although the teams overall performance and outcomes where outstanding. The coach has identified five problems throughout the team that need to be addressed to allow the team to perform well at such a high level area as school nationals.

The five problems identified by the coach where:





Team cohesion

The players amongst the team are not motivated to participate in the schools nationals’ competition, they feel that they don’t deserve to be there and that they wont perform as well as the other schools.

Motivation is best described as the direction and intensity of effort. (Hodge 1999.) Direction in motivation can be referred to as the tendency to approach or avoid a particular situation, directing your team to your goals that you are trying to achieve or the reminding players the reason they are playing that particular sport or game. Intensity in motivation can refer to the activation of a person on a continuum from low intensity to high intensity, in other words it’s the amount of effort you put into the task or game. (Hodge 1999.)

There are many types of motivation, for example, long-term motivation such as commitment to training and practicing skills, short-term motivation, such as preparing for an upcoming event or game, extrinsic motivation such as rewards, trophies and recognition and Intrinsic motivation such as playing for fun, enjoyment, And playing because you want to. (Hodge 1999.)

One strategy that can be used to improve the motivation levels of the team is goal setting. A goal is defined as to set a certain standard or to maintain a certain objective to achieve what you want to achieve. There are three types of goals; Outcome goals focus on the competitive nature of the game e.g. winning. Performance goals which focus on the performers own previous performance and beating that e.g. if a team came third in a competition they look at coming second or third. Process goals focus on the actions taking during the performance in order to execute the skill. (Hodge 1999.)

Goal setting can help improve motivation by motivating the players to do well, so that they can achieve the goal that they set. The more realistic the goal is the more motivated the players will be to achieve it, because they know that they will be able to succeed. This is also known as the indirect thought process view. Goals effect performance indirectly by influencing an athlete’s psychological state, including confidence level and anxiety. Goals lead to changes in psychological factors. (Motivation) which then influence performance. (Hodge 1999.)

Goal setting can be implemented easily to most teams. In this case goal setting can be set at the start of training sessions and before the games. Asking players what there expectations are of the team and how they can achieve them is the first step to goal setting. If the expectations are too high, encourage players to set realistic short term goals in which can help them achieve there own and the teams expectations. An example of this is, before the game players can set a short term goal of not letting the opposition score a point before half time, if this short term goal is successful they can then make another short term goal at half time which will encourage them to win the game or be successful in there second half performance. Coaches should implement goal setting from the start of the season. Getting players to write down at least one personal long-term goal and one team long-term goal and the same with short-term goals. The team long-term goals and short-term goals should then be shared amongst the team so that they can develop ways together on how to achieve those goals.

The team being discussed in this paper has had some issues with some of the players stressing before the start of the game and throughout the performance of the team during the game.

Stress is best described as a process triggered when the brain intercepts internal or external stimulus and processes them as potentially threatening to the individual. This can affect the mental and physical ability of the players throughout the team. (Harwood, 1998.) Internal stimuli may include physical or mental discomfort and personality traits, such as a need to strive for perfection or successes or to please others. External stimuli may include, competing in an important competition or event for the first time, playing in front of a particular individual or large crowd and arriving late to a competition and having no time for a full personal warm up. (Harwood, 1998)

First and foremost it is important to figure out the source of the stress experienced by the individual in the team, weather it be external or internal the source is needed to develop a solution or strategy to help the individual cope with the stress. (Devonport, 2008.) Stress can affect the mood and overall confidence of the players. Developing coping strategies are important in order for the players to achieve optimum concentration and performance throughout the game. There are many coping strategies in which coaches can implement to improve player stress levels. The first main area of coping is Adaptive coping which includes planning, positive reframing, instrumental support, acceptance and active coping, the second area of coping is called maladaptive coping, which includes venting, denial, distraction, and behaviour disengagement. (Devonport, 2008.)

Maladaptive coping is a good strategy to use when focusing on a whole teams stress levels. Venting there stress on pre-game warm ups or pre-game rituals such as the haka can help distract players from the stimuli that causes their stress and focus on the game that is needed to be played.

An approach that can be used to aid the coach and the team mentioned in this paper, is the cognitive behaviour approach.(Harwood, 1998.)

Cognitive behaviour approach is based around the maladaptive emotions and how behaviours are influenced by individual’s beliefs, attitudes and perceptions. E.g. a player thinks it is impossible to beat an undefeated team, change the player’s perception and inform them of the positives of their own team and how anything can happen if they play well.

(Harwood, 1998.)

These coping strategies can be implemented at the beginning of every match and at the start of pre-season training. Implementing strategies and informing players on how to deal with stress at the start of the season during training sessions, will improve the teams overall season performance because players will learn how develop there own ways of dealing with stress, weather that be a maladaptive approach or a adaptive approach.

Although the team portrayed in this paper suggest that confidence levels should be high, a lot of the players have a lack in self confidence and believe that they themselves are weighing or might weigh the team down in the school nationals.

Confidence is the trust and belief in your own self that you can perform or execute a particular skill or scenario in any given situation. (Hodge, 1999) Confidence arouses positive emotions, Facilitates concentration, affects goals (pursue goals) increases effort, Affects game strategies and influences a positive relationship with performance. (Weinberg & Gould, 2007) Without confidence it is vary rare that the players or team will accomplish the goals they have set at the beginning of the match or season.

A strategy that can be used to improve or restore confidence within individual players and the team is self-talk. Self-talk may be described as conscious thinking, or as inner statements that are self said intentionally. (Hodge 1999) Self talk influences your feelings which then affects your behaviour. Your level of self talk is linked to a players self confidence. If the players imagine themselves being successful, they then focus on positive things and successfully performing the task, rather then worrying about performing badly (Hodge 1999). If the player is worried about performing badly, then the use of self-talk can be used to help boost the confidence of that players thoughts. For example if the player self talks to themselves about the way he wants to successfully perform the skill, he will then feel the confidence within himself to successfully perform that skill in the game or event situation.

This theory works well for the team portrayed in this paper, the teams confidence level is low so they naturally will start thinking of negative situations that might occur during the game or event. Expecting something to happen actually helps cause it to happen.(Hodge 1999)

The expectations coaches’ form about the ability of individual athletes can serve as either a negative or positive influence that determines the level of achievement each athlete will ultimately reach. So if a coach was to positively reinforce he’s athletes and motivate them to succeed, the likelihood of the athletes motivating themselves and other teammates with motivational words and sayings of self talk will ultimately improve the team and athletes overall performance.

Self-talk can be implemented at the start of the season in pre-season training. Informing players of how to use self talk in situations that may boost there confidence at the beginning of the season will help players know how to boost there own confidence before a game. This will then make it easier for the coach during training sessions and before games to help players feel more confident about themselves and the task that they need to perform.

The team represented in this paper are good at focusing on the game in stressful situations, but when there is a crowd of more then twenty people, the pressure for them to succeed becomes overwhelming and the concentration levels of certain individuals amongst the team are affected.

Concentration, or the ability to focus on a task at hand while ignoring distractions is a vital part of success for most athletes and teams whilst competing in games and events. (Moran, 2009)

Mental rehearsal is a method useful in developing the psychological sport training skills of optimal physical activation and optimal attention and concentration. This strategy is used to organise a consistent and systematic psych up period before the game or event. The purpose of mental rehearsal is to help athletes consistently reach an ideal performance and state of optimal activation and readiness.(Hodge 1999)

Distractions can take form in two aspects, external and internal. The external factor that is affecting the team represented in this paper is the audience and spectators. If at the beginning of every match or a week prior to the big performance players learn to rehearse their particular event or game with a audience, the more likely they are to become less distracted by the audience when competing. For example if a player was to mentally rehearse a successful penalty goal in front of a massive crowd of people, the more chance that player would stay concentrated and focused on that task if it was to happen in an actual game situation. One theoretical principal of concentration that support mental rehearsal as a strategy suggest that athletes have to decided to concentrate; it does not happen by chance. (Moran, 2009)

This suggest that in order for players to concentrate throughout the entire start to finish of the game, they must start concentrating before the game has actually begun, thus supporting that mental rehearsal enhances concentration because it allows players to focus on the game or event prior to the actual performance.

Mental rehearsal should be implemented at the start of the season in pre season training. So that players develop a routine on mentally preparing themselves for an event or game situation. Mental rehearsal at such a early start of the season can increase player concentration by up to 30%. (Hodges 1999)

Coaches should implement mental rehearsals techniques and skills by hiring a sport psychologist at the beginning of the season to help the team mentally prepare for the upcoming season. Coaches can also implement mental rehearsal at the end of each training session telling players to concentrate on a particular skill they learnt and mentally practice it before the up coming game.

Throughout the season players have seem to putting other players down, when things go wrong or not trusting certain players on executing particular skills during the event.

Team cohesion can be defined as the ever changing process, which is reflected in the predisposition for a group to stick to together and remain unified in the quest of completing a task or performing a successfully in a game or event.

There are two types of team cohesions; Task Cohesion is the degree to which members of a team, work together to achieve a specific goal. And Social Cohesion is the degree to which the members of a team like each other and enjoy personal contentment from being members of the team (Weinberg & Gould, 2007)

A good strategy that can be used to improve team cohesion is Team building. Team building involves a variety of trust games and group activities that will allow the team to get to know each other and bond.

Team Building was designed to increase team togetherness and bonding so that players can feel like a team, cohesiveness was used to enable the team to function and communicate together more successfully. (Weinberg & Gould, 2007)

Team building allows for players to get to know each other and form a relationship with the other team mates and coaches, it allows players to feel comfortable for the team and coach they are playing for. Examples of team building games include, trust fall, blind folded games, communication games and any activity involving the team to work together.

Although the team has been successful throughout most of the season, the following strategies in conjunction with good coaching should allow for most of the problems found amongst the team to improve. The strategies used throughout this paper are strategies used by sport psychologists and are proven to make a difference in research and current studies on elite teams and athletes.


Carron, A. V., Eys, M. A., & Burke, S. M. (2007). Teach cohesion: Nature, correlates,

      and development. In S. Jowett, & D. Lavallee (Eds.), Social psychology in sport

      (pp. 91-101). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Devonport, T. (2008). Stress and coping among competitive athletes in sport. In A. Lane (Ed.), Sport and exercise psychology (pp. 73-90). London: Hodder Education.

Harwood, C. (1998) handling pressure; the national coaching foundation, Leeds

Martens, R. (1997) successful coaching; The American sport education program and the national federation interscholastic coaches association, (pp. 135-137)

Moran, A. P. (2009). Attention, concentration and thought management. In B.W.

      Brewer (Ed.), Sport psychology (pp. 18-29). Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell

Weinsberg, R. S., & Gould, D. (2007). Goal setting. In Foundations of sport and

      exercise pscyhology (pp. 346-364). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.


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