The relations between newcomer integration processes and youth athletes' perceptions of the group environment in competitive hockey


The ways in which new members are integrated into a particular group environment—also known as organizational socialization processes—have been shown to be a powerful predictor of newcomer adjustment in the workplace. Yet, there is a scarcity of research on how sport teams manage the integration of new team members, and the consequences of different tactics. In the current research, we used the recently developed Sport Team Socialization Tactics Questionnaire (STSTQ) to evaluate how socialization processes are systematically related to youth athletes' perceptions of their group environment. The STSTQ assesses information sharing between more experienced members and newcomers (i.e., serial tactics), the provision of tailored role information to athletes (i.e., coach-initiated role communication tactics), and the structuring of group-wide social events (i.e., social inclusionary tactics). Across two time points, 202 competitive adolescent ice hockey players (Mage = 14.47, SD = 1.23, 26.24% female) completed measures of team socialization processes near the beginning of the season, and then measures of group conflict, social identity, and cohesion later in the season. As hypothesized, coach-initiated role communication tactics positively predicted task cohesion (p <.001). Also as predicted, social inclusionary tactics positively predicted social identity (p <.001). Counter to expectations, however, serial tactics was not significantly related to relationship conflict. Overall, the results point to how the processes surrounding the integration of new members may be a key leverage point for managing the social environment for athletes in youth sport.