Examining the interactive effects of cohesion and descriptive norms on the individual effort of youth soccer players


Effort is a valuable attribute in sport teams.  Two variables that have been positively associated with players’ effort are team cohesion and descriptive norms.   For example, athletes who feel more cohesive with their teammates (Carron et al., 1985) have been found to work harder (Prapavessis & Carron, 1997).  As well, perceptions about how hard teammates were working (i.e., descriptive norms) have been linked with individual players’ self-reported effort (Spink et al., 2013).  While studies have examined cohesion and norms independently in the sport setting, no research has considered how the combination of team cohesion and descriptive norms for effort might interact to affect individual effort.  Thus, the purpose of the current study was to examine this relationship in a sample of youth soccer players.  During the last two weeks of their season, 156 players from 10 intact teams (M = 13.3 years, SD = 1.1) completed measures of task cohesion (YSEQ; Eys et al., 2009), descriptive norms for effort (using peer nomination; Prell, 2012), and self-reported effort (Spink et al., 2013).  As players’ self-reported effort responses were independent of their teammates’ (ICC < .05), hierarchical regression was used.  The overall model was significant (p < .001), accounting for 21.2% of the variance in players’ self-reported effort.  On step 1, task cohesion was related to self-reported effort, β = .40, p < .001, whereas descriptive norms were not (p > .05).  On step 2, the addition of the interaction between cohesion and descriptive norms also was significant (p = .05).  A post-hoc simple slopes analysis (Aiken & West, 1991) revealed that the positive association between cohesion and self-reported effort was strongest for those on teams with a high norm for effort.  While this finding requires replication, it provides preliminary evidence that team norms for effort might moderate the cohesion-effort relationship.

Acknowledgments: This research was supported by a SSHRC Canada Graduate Scholarship (Doctoral) and a SSHRC/Sport Canada Sport Participation Research Initiative grant.