The Direct Impact of Team Cohesiveness and Athletes' Perception of Coaching Leadership Functions on Team Success in NCAA Division I Women's Basketball
Palmer, Mary E.
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This study investigated the direct impact of team cohesiveness and student-athletes' perceptions of coaching behavior/leadership functions on the success of NCAA Division I Women's basketball, based on the teams' win/loss records. The research collection was quantitative in nature. Statistical design and analysis provided justification for the use of the paired comparison instrument coupled with other meta-analytic assessments to determine construct validity for all measures addressed in the study. The researcher formulated six questions regarding athletes' perceptions of team cohesiveness and coaching leadership functions. To answer these questions, the researcher administered two survey instruments: the Lowry Leadership Functions Instrument (LFI), and the Lencioni Team Assessment (LTA) questionnaire. The demographic findings gave a snapshot of a typical women's college basketball student-athlete (N=73) specific to the region and conference. The institutions were located in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas. The data from the LFI showed that players from winning and losing teams selected the same top and bottom leadership functions in their coaches, but there were differences in how winning teams and losing teams rated those functions. The top-rated coaching/leadership functions were attempting to keep communication channels open (70.81%), keeping members focused on goals (69.76%), and providing encouragement (65.44%). The LTA focused on five indicators of team cohesion (Trust, Healthy Conflict, Commitment, Accountability, Focus on Results) and those behaviors within each function, and showed differences in perceptions on team cohesiveness between winning and losing teams. While there was no conclusive data from the LTA on the effects of winning and losing on demographics and team functionality, five areas of note emerged: a) athletes on losing teams had more trust issues than athletes on winning teams, b) there was a major shift in minority perception of influence over a forty year span between the Lowry (1972) and the Palmer (2012) studies, c) winning teams tended to focus on behaviors that produced quantifiable results, d) losing teams appeared to be more focused on collective results, and e) behaviors involved in achieving a winning outcome may be more important than the outcome itself.