Measuring team chemistry with social science theory

Every athlete, professional or otherwise, talks about that feeling of being on a team. There’s something that happens when a team “clicks” – it’s a united feeling of team spirit that propels team members to compete, most often referred to as team chemistry. In the social sciences there’s no measure of team chemistry, but there is however Team Cohesion, which is defined as:

A dynamic process that is reflected in the tendency of a group to sticktogether and remain untied in the pursuit of its instrumental objectivesand/or for the satisfaction of member affective needs [1].

Team cohesion has been shown to exist across multiple work group settings (organizational, military and sport) [2], as well as across multiple sports (basketball, golf [3], softball, and baseball [4]). Perhaps more interestingly, cohesion has also been bi-directionally linked to performance: when teams perform better, they are more cohesive; and when they are more cohesive, they perform better [2,5]. And while the research on this relationship is clear, it has mostly been conducted with non-professional teams. Indeed, team cohesion is one of many other “unobservable” properties that are untapped within profession sports.

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