Examining the relationship between intra-team communication and team cohesion in competitive youth soccer athletes


It is recognized that the group property of cohesion can be assessed through the perceptions of group members (Carron et al., 1985). Further, this requires members to consider the social exchanges that take place around them when forming perceptions of cohesiveness (e.g., McGrath, 1978). In terms of exchanges, youth athletes acknowledge effective communication among members as an indicator of a cohesive team (Eys et al., 2009a). While research with adults (Sullivan & Short, 2011) revealed relationships between different types of intra-team communication (acceptance and positive conflict) and group cohesion, this relationship has not been examined with youth. This study was designed specifically to test the relationship between different types of communication and cohesion in a sample of youth athletes. Participants (N = 160, age range 14-17) completed measures of intra-team communication (Sullivan & Short, 2011) and group cohesion (Eys et al., 2009b) in the middle of a competitive soccer season. Results from canonical correlation revealed a significant overlap in the variability of the two construct sets, Wilks' l = .51 F(8, 266) = 13.37, p < .001, accounting for 46% of the variance. Examination of the relationships revealed perceptions of acceptance- and positive conflict-related communication among members was positively associated with task cohesion perceptions (.72 = r = .87). When communication between teammates demonstrated greater acceptance of teammates, and when differences in opinion (i.e., conflicts) were met with constructive communication, individuals perceived greater task cohesion. While needing replication, this suggests unique relationships between these two multidimensional constructs.