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THE DEVELOPMENT AND MAINTENANCE OF COLLECTIVE EFFICACY WITH
A WOMEN'S COMMUNITY COLLEGE BASKETBALL TEAM
AMBER CHRISTINE STEGELIN
A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF SCIENCE OF EXERCISE SPORT SCIENCES
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
Amber Christine Stegelin
"The longer the island of knowledge, the longer the shoreline of wonder."
-Ralph W. Sockman
First and foremost, I would like to thank my committee members, Drs. Milledge
Murphey, Heather Hausenblas, John Todorovich, and Peter Giacobbi, Jr., for their
guidance and input concerning this thesis project. Their patience during this lengthy
mission is to be commended. Furthermore, I would especially like to express gratitude
towards my advisor, Dr. Giacobbi, for his direction in the understanding and
development of qualitative inquiry as this experience deserved such attention.
I would also like to thank my parents, as well as my brother and extended family
for their support throughout my academic experience. I appreciate their ability to adapt to
my changing life pace and willingness to always go the extra mile when needed. I thank
my life-long friends for offering advice and words of encouragement throughout all of
my endeavors, no matter where these adventures take me. Thanks go to all of those
individuals at the University of Florida who helped to put my mind at ease concerning the
process of the thesis project. And to Brad and Taryn, as fellow members of the qualitative
group meetings I want to thank them for joining me on this long journey of grounded
Lastly, I would like to thank the players and coaches for without their consent the
following account would never have been possible. I am grateful for their willingness to,
without reservation, permit me into their lives and share in this once-in-a-lifetime
experience. During these many months I have had the opportunity to build sincere
relationships and learn from those privy to the following documentation. Both on and off
the playing court I feel as though they have made an impact upon my life and I hope in
some form or another that I have done the same for them.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A C K N O W L E D G M E N T S ................................................................................................. iv
A B STR A C T ............................................................................... ..................... viii
1 IN TR OD U CTION ............................................... .. ......................... ..
P erso n al In there st ...................................... .............................. ................ .. 5
Proposed R research .................. ................................ ....... .................
R research Purposes ......................................... ........... ... .. ........ ..
G lossary of T erm s........................................................................................... .... 7
2 CONCEPTUAL DEFINITION AND APPLICATION ............................................9
S elf-E efficacy T h eory ........................................................................ ................ .. 10
Sources of Self-E fficacy ................................................................. ............... 12
M easurem ent Issues ............................................... .. ...... .. ............ 14
Collective Efficacy .................... .......... .... ...... ......... ........... ........ ......17
Related Dimensions of Group Efficacy Construct ............................................19
Research Examining Group Efficacy ...................................... ............... 20
R elated C onstructs .................. ................................ .. .. ........ .............. 23
Current Study R rationale ..........................................................................................27
Philosophical Issues Related to the Current Study............................................28
Q u alitativ e R research ........... ........................................................ .. .... .. ...... 30
3 M E T H O D S ........................................................................................................... 3 2
P participants and Setting ........................................... .................. ............... 32
P ro c e d u re ............................. ................................................................................ 3 2
Trust and Rapport Building Procedures ................................... .................33
Interview Procedures ......................................... ........ .. .. .. .. .. ........ .... 33
G group Interview s ................................................ ..... ... .. ............ 34
Individual Interview s.......... ..... ................................................................ .... 5
The U se of a R eflexive Journal ........................................ ....................... 35
Grounded Theory Data Analytic Procedures............................................................36
4 R E S U L T S ............................................................................................................. 3 8
Player Biographies ................ .... .................................................. .. .... .... ..... ..38
Sources of Team Efficacy of a Women's Basketball Team.................. ............41
P preseason Interview s .................................................... ........ ....... ............4 1
Postseason Interview s ............... .... ............................................. .. .......... 51
Observed Changes in Team Efficacy Throughout the Season .................................57
R eturn from H holiday B reak ......... ............................................. ........... ........61
Changing Perceptions of the Coach ......... .................................... .......... ....... 62
Critical Influences on the Evolution of Team Efficacy: A Grounded Theory ..........64
Critical Incidents and the Reevaluation Period ....................................... 65
Post-Juncture Beliefs ........... ........................ ...... ........ .. ...... 68
5 GENERAL DISCU SSION ................ ......... ... ........ ................... ............... 73
E efficacy Sources ........................ ................ ....... ......................... 73
M astery E experiences ..................... .. ...................... .. .. ...... ........... 74
V icarious Experience............. ..................................................................... 75
V erbal Persuasion ....... ...... ........... ....... ... .......... .......... .. .............76
P hy biological States............. ........................................................ .... .... .... ... 76
Leadership Effectiveness ............................... .......... .. ............... 77
Related Dimensions of Group Efficacy Construct ............................................. 78
G roup Efficacy R esearch........................................................................... 79
R elated C onstructs .................. ......................................... .. ............
M ethodological Considerations ........................................................ ............... 84
M ethodological W weaknesses ........................................................... .....................85
A applied Im plications .......................................... .. .. .... ........ .. ..... .. 88
A PRESEASON GROUP INTERVIEW GUIDE .................................. ...............91
B POSTSEASON GROUP INTERVIEW GUIDE...............................92
C PRESEASON PLAYER INTERVIEW GUIDE ................................................93
D POSTSEASON PLAYER INTERVIEW GUIDE............................. 94
E IN FO R M ED C O N SEN T .............. ........................................................................95
F POSTSEASON INTERVIEW THEMES ................. ..............1..............100
G CRITICAL INFLUENCES ON THE EVOLUTION OF TEAM EFFICACY: A
G R O U N D E D TH E O R Y ................................................ ..................................... 103
LIST OF REFEREN CES ..................................................................... ............... 105
BIO GR A PH ICA L SK ETCH .................................... ............ ................ .....................112
Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Master of Science in Exercise and Sport Sciences
THE DEVELOPMENT AND MAINTENANCE OF COLLECTIVE EFFICACY WITH
A WOMEN'S COMMUNITY COLLEGE BASKETBALL TEAM
Amber Christine Stegelin
Chair: Peter Giacobbi, Jr.
Major Department: Exercise and Sport Sciences
The current study utilized self-efficacy theory to explore the development and
maintenance of collective efficacy on a community college women's basketball team
throughout the course of a competitive basketball season. Collective efficacy is defined
as a group's shared beliefs in its capacities to organize and execute actions to produce a
desired goal. Despite numerous studies published on self-efficacy theory related to sport
performance, little research has been conducted concerning collective or group efficacy
in sport. Group assessment is considered to be a complex phenomenon containing a
multitude of ambiguities. Factors such as team interdependency, group cohesion and the
influence of social factors have important implications for the assessment of efficacy
within the sporting context. As such, a qualitative research approach was used to explore
the building of collective efficacy within a highly interdependent sports team.
Specifically, a grounded theory approach was implemented to understand how individual
and team members' perceptions of group efficacy developed throughout a season. Initial
open-ended interviews were transcribed verbatim and relevant themes were categorized.
As themes emerged from the data, subsequent interviews were completed to clarify the
researcher's perceptions of the team's efficacy and to gain a further understanding of
participants' responses. The interview text established a foundation for group efficacy
theory and allowed for further expansion of its components and related constructs.
Much of sport psychology research has sought to explain the relationship between
athletes' motivation and accomplished performance (Feltz, 1988; Miller, 1993; Vallerand
& Bissonnette 1992). Self-efficacy, as theorized by Bandura (1977), is one mechanism
that mediates this relationship. However, it has been suggested that this theory does not
generalize to the group domain (Bandura, 1997). Many physical activities are organized
on the basis of groups including sports teams consisting of elite and recreational athletes,
and, those pertaining to instructional classes. Furthermore, many sports involve groups,
ranging from those of low interdependency (i.e. golf, bowling) to those of high
interdependency (basketball, volleyball). Within the athletic setting, questions arise
concerning how efficacy within a group or team develops. The present study addresses
Collective efficacy focuses on the group's shared beliefs in its capacities to
organize and execute actions to produce a desired goal (Bandura, 1997). Collective
efficacy is considered to be rooted in self-efficacy in that knowledge of personal efficacy
is not unrelated to perceived group efficacy (Bandura, 1982). However, the aggregate
performance of a group of athletes does not appear to be simply the sum of individual
efforts but a more complex interaction of interpersonal and situational factors (George &
Feltz, 1995). For instance, in a sport such as basketball where teammates depend on each
other's performance to achieve overall success, individual miscues or lack of confidence
(missing a free-throw) can disrupt a team's ability to achieve specific goals (e.g., winning
Although it appears self and collective efficacy involve different psychological
processes, they do share some common characteristics. For instance, both constructs are
task-specific in that beliefs of attaining success are related to specific goals. Additionally,
comparisons can be made between the similar sources of information for self and
collective efficacy (Bandura, 1997). For instance, vicarious experience is regarded as a
source of efficacy. Therefore, observing another athlete with similar athletic attributes
succeed in sport may have similar effects as observing another team with similar
characteristics achieve success. To date, few empirical studies have addressed these
Collective efficacy also has important implications for motivation at the group
level, particularly with regards to group cohesion (Zander, 1971). Spink (1990) states the
factors of efficacy and cohesion are correlated when established as precursors to
performance success. To date, few studies have assessed the influence of motivational
factors on performance accomplishments at the group level. This research is considered
difficult to conduct since data accumulated from members of a team consist of individual
perceptions and perceptions assumed from the team as a whole. For instance, an
aggregation bias can develop if within-group variability is not taken into account when
assessing group phenomenon at the individual level (James, 1982). This will be discussed
in more depth in an upcoming section.
According to Wood and Bandura (1989), the effective exercise of collective action
involves more complex socially-mediated paths of influence than does individual self-
direction. Therefore, studies in collective efficacy should first consider the research
question to determine the proper level of analysis. Due to the complexities related to
group research, a greater understanding of factors related to the development and
maintenance of collective efficacy need to be studied. Exploratory research with specific
athletic contexts could provide invaluable information concerning the interactive
properties that develop within a team. Similarly, it has been suggested that for group
cohesion research to advance, studies should be completed over the course of one or
possibly, a multitude of seasons as opposed to single assessments of a team (Widmeyer,
Carron & Brawley, 1993). In other words, longitudinal studies would allow for a closer
examination of how group characteristics develop over an extended period of time and to
be fully considered.
In addition, research involving group constructs has not sufficiently addressed
differences between individual and group perceptions. The majority of studies involving
collective efficacy have attempted to understand the construct through survey
questionnaires completed by individual team members (Feltz & Lirgg, 1998; Watson &
Chemers, 1998; Spink, 1990). Because individuals within the team separately respond to
these questionnaires, it is possible that team members will not be swayed by the
perceptions of influential members or those with more prestige or those in positions of
authority (Bandura, 1997). However, it is possible that through a complex process of
social interaction individuals form collective efficacy beliefs that are influenced by
important individuals on the team. Therefore, validity concerns arise because
questionnaires attempt to assess perceptions about the group from answers given by
individual members of the team.
Group efficacy is conceptually similar, and related to, constructs such as
confidence, team cohesion, and group interdependence. According to Bandura (1997),
group cohesiveness can largely reflect a team's sense of efficacy by strengthening the
team's beliefs in their ability to remain united through difficult times. Teams with
increased efficacy are less likely to split when faced with obstacles that might otherwise
hinder a team with a low sense of efficacy. A team's level of cohesion can also be
attributed to actions outside of the actual playing field, such as mutual liking and
affiliation (Bandura, 1997). These issues will be discussed in an upcoming section.
Sport confidence (Vealey, 1986) is a sport specific modification of Bandura's
efficacy theory. Both constructs define one's beliefs in their own ability to perform as a
key component to success. Similar to efficacy, sport confidence considers the importance
of specific influencing factors and related sources for assessing one's beliefs about his
performance. Further examination of the construct will follow in the next section.
A construct related to group activity involves group cohesion. Within the sport
setting, cohesion, as defined by Carron, Widmeyer, and Brawley, (1985), considers
specific individual and group mechanisms in that individual member perceptions and
beliefs will influence what is considered meaningful to the group (Paskevich, Estabrooks,
Brawley & Carron, 2001). A positive relationship has been demonstrated between
cohesion and efficacy such that as a team's cohesion rises so does its sense of efficacy
(Dorsch, Widmeyer, Paskevich, & Brawley, 1995; Paskevich, 1995). This relationship
will be discussed further in an upcoming section.
A close examination of the research literature indicates that the study of collective
efficacy is in the early stages. There exists ambiguity concerning social influences,
appropriate measures for assessment, and associations with related constructs (Feltz &
Lirgg, 2001; George & Feltz, 1995). The influence each of these roles will have over
efficacy beliefs is not clear. For instance, questions exist concerning the credibility of
specific social influences, how to assess a group phenomenon with individual responses,
and how related constructs (e.g., collective task efficacy, collective interdependence
effect) can influence actual performance.
There are a variety of practical implications that might arise from research on group
efficacy in sport. Research involving Bandura's theory of group efficacy has practical
implications for players and coaches. According to Feltz and Lirgg (1998), it might be
possible that group efficacy is a more important predictor of performance than individual
efficacy. If this were to be the case, team leaders should focus more attention on
techniques to build group efficacy. Secondly, sources of efficacy information may differ
in regards to the individual and the group in addition to other sources being present.
Because ambiguity exists within the construct of group efficacy, this qualitative study
will address the issues raised within this chapter.
I am a coach, university instructor, and participant in the game of basketball. My
experiences as a player began as a novice in middle school and progressed to a collegiate
player at the Division I level. I currently play recreationally as well as coach basketball
and see it being a part of my life for a long time to come. Throughout my playing years, I
have been privileged to be a member of numerous teams and have traveled to many
different places for the opportunity to play the game. In some instances, a team was
formed and played together for months at a time (e.g., length of a playing season). In
other instances, teams were formed hastily and played together for a short period (e.g., a
weekend tournament). Reflecting back on my experiences with these teams, the
interactions between team members and the playing situations remain the most salient
features for me. Basketball is a game where player interaction on and off the court is
necessary and can often influence a team's level of success. The connections formed
amongst team members who play together for an extended period of time are strong
predictors of successful play. In today's society where the careers of coaches and players
are often dependent upon the level of success of a team, the importance of group effects
In my experience as a player, the level of confidence a team exuded often
influenced outcome of play, regardless of differences in skill level of the two competing
squads. I have been part of teams that appeared to be severely overmatched and yet the
combined beliefs in our abilities to succeed contributed to victory. Conversely, I have
also been a part of teams where our skill level appeared to overwhelm that of an
opponent, however their unwavering confidence outlasted our level of play. This
phenomenon is always intriguing to me, as it appears unpredictable, and yet pronounced.
In my eyes, the beauty of a team exists because of the interaction amongst its members.
One person cannot hold more influence over the team than the collective authority of the
team itself. However, the interplay amongst members differs within every team and every
situation. While I do not believe group efficacy to be the only determinant of team play, I
do believe its existence can strongly influence a team's level of success.
From a research perspective, there is not a viable method of splitting the intact
interactions between teammates into singular experiences. However, quantitative
methodology evaluating group efficacy focuses on separating the individual component
of this group effect. While this method assesses the construct in an objective manner, one
must question the validity of participant responses. The context of a team situation
encompasses the response of its team members. However, in the case of a highly
interdependent sport like basketball, a sum of the individual parts does not equate that of
one collective response. Additionally, the majority of previous studies have occurred at
one specific time, without regards to the influence of an extended season or additional
factors that can sway a team's level of efficacy. As previously suggested, group efficacy
is not a construct that can be analyzed based on one response given during one
intermittent time of play.
The researcher's primary interest was to assess the formation and development of
group efficacy within a community college women's basketball team over the course of a
playing season. A secondary purpose was to examine the dynamic characteristics (e.g.,
group cohesion, role related behavior) existing within a formed group that influenced a
team's level of efficacy.
Glossary of Terms
The following terms are included in this study as defined below:
Axial coding: the process of relating categories to their subcategories, termed "axial"
because coding occurs around the axis of a category, linking categories at the level of
properties and dimensions (Strauss & Corbin, 1998)
Collective efficacy: group's shared beliefs in its capacities to organize and execute
actions to produce a desired goal (Bandura, 1997)
Constant comparative method: similarities and differences in participants' experiences
are fully explored through comparisons between (a) different participants, (b) information
in the form of quotations derived from the same individual, (c) critical incidents with
other incidents experienced by the same and different participants, (d) data derived within
a general dimension or category, and (e) data derived between different dimensions with
other dimensions (Charmaz, 2000)
Grounded theory: theory derived from data and systematically gathered and analyzed
through the research process (Strauss & Corbin, 1998)
Group cohesion: tendency of a group to stick together and remain united in the pursuit
of its instrumental objectives and/or for the satisfaction of member affective needs
(Carron, Brawley, & Widmeyer, 1998)
Group efficacy: a group's consensus about that group's abilities (Gibson, Randel, &
Open coding: the analytic process through which concepts are identified and their
properties and dimensions are discovered in data (Strauss & Corbin, 1998)
Self-efficacy theory: the belief one has in being able to execute a specific task
successfully to obtain a certain outcome (Bandura, 1986)
Sensitizing concepts: points of departure from which to study the data (Charmaz, 2000)
Sport confidence: the belief or degree of certainty that individuals possess about their
ability to be successful in sport (Vealey, 1986)
CONCEPTUAL DEFINITION AND APPLICATION
Bandura (1997) developed "collective efficacy" as a group phenomenon rooted
within the tenets of the self-efficacy theory he proposed twenty years earlier. He discerns
the difference between efficacy theory and the term "confidence" that is commonly used
in its place (Bandura, 1997 p. 382):
It should be noted that the construct of self-efficacy differs from the colloquial term
confidence, which is widely used in sports psychology. Confidence is a nondescript term
that refers to strength of belief but does not necessarily specify what the certainty is
about. Perceived self-efficacy refers to belief in one's power to produce given levels of
attainment. A self-efficacy assessment, therefore, includes both the affirmation of
capability and the strength of that belief.
Because Bandura (1997) places the collective efficacy construct at the level of the
group, it is questionable whether the averaging of individual data is justified. The sport of
basketball is strongly interdependent in nature. Therefore, the term "group efficacy", or a
group's consensus about its abilities, may be more appropriate (Gibson, Randel, and
Earley, 1996) for the purposes of this project.
While the researcher recognizes the distinction between the construct definition of
efficacy and the frequently associated word "confidence," application of the former's use
within the given athletic setting is not suitable. Within the context of this thesis project,
interview text does not follow the efficacy terminology as defined by Bandura (1997).
Team members repeatedly mentioned "confidence" when asked questions concerning
group efficacy. Therefore, for purposes of this research project the researcher employed
the terms "group efficacy" and "team confidence" interchangeably. During the
interviews, the term "confidence" was used to describe the phenomenon occurring within
the team. Using appropriate qualitative procedures, the researcher noted the difference in
vocabulary used by team members yet did not attempt to correct their terminology.
Self-efficacy theory, which originated from Bandura's social-cognitive theory
(1977, 1986), stressed the interaction among cognition, behavior and the environment in
determining causation for action (Bandura, 1986). The theory places emphasis on the
influence humans have over events in everyday life. As humans attempt to establish
control over behaviors through thought (cognition), these considerations can then
influence the social environment and subsequently impact our affective and biological
states (Bandura, 1986). Therefore, one's self-efficacy, a cognitive state, has a direct
impact on how well subsequent actions will be performed.
Self-efficacy theory poses efficacy as a common cognitive mechanism for
mediating people's motivation, thought patterns and behavior (George & Feltz, 1995).
According to Bandura (1990), the theory details how to empower people with the
competencies, self-regulatory capabilities and resilient self-belief that enable individuals
to enhance their psychological well-being and accomplishments. Therefore, the more
efficacy individuals have in their own capabilities to experience success, the more likely
successful performance will follow. As such, self-efficacy is considered the most
influential aspect on people's everyday lives (Bandura, 1990).
According to Bandura (1997), efficacy expectations for performance vary
according to three dimensions: magnitude, generality, and strength. The magnitude of
efficacy beliefs can range according to simple or complex tasks. Thus, when tasks are
ordered according to level of difficulty, the efficacy expectations may be limited to the
simpler tasks (e.g., running down the basketball court), extend to moderately difficult
ones (dribbling around a defender), or include even the most taxing performances
(scoring a basket while simultaneously being fouled). The range of perceived capability
for a given person is measured against levels of task demands that represent varying
degrees of challenge or impediments to successful performance (Bandura, 1997). Thus, if
there are no obstacles and the activity is easy to perform, then one would expect higher
perceptions of self-efficacy (Bandura, 1997).
Secondly, Bandura states the generality of efficacy expectations concern the
number of domains in which an individual believes he or she is efficacious. These
expectations can range from specific mastery skills necessary to achieve success or on the
converse, a more general sense of efficacy involving individual trait characteristics.
Generality can also vary on a number of different dimensions, including the degree of
similarity of activities, the modalities in which capabilities are expressed (behavioral,
cognitive, affective), qualitative features of situations, and the characteristics of the
persons toward whom the behavior is directed (Bandura, 1997). It should be noted the
inclusion of generality expectations are rarely included within sport studies due to the
complexity of assessing the degree of congruence between self-efficacy and performance
at the level of individual tasks (Feltz & Lirgg, 2001). Instead, researchers have adopted
the method of correlating the aggregate of self-efficacy strength scores and aggregate
performance scores (Feltz & Chase, 1998). This procedure raises validity questions given
the complexities of assessing the phenomenon at multiple levels (Feltz & Chase, 1998).
Lastly, the strength of these expectations is defined as the certainty that one can
attain a given level of performance (Felt & Lirgg, 2001). These convictions can result in
an individual experiencing a weak sense of perseverance or conversely an aptitude to be
successful in any situation. The stronger the sense of personal efficacy, however, the
greater the perseverance and the higher the likelihood that the chosen activity will be
performed successfully (Bandura, 1997).
Sources of Self-Efficacy
Bandura's (1990) theory states the development of efficacy information originates
from four sources. Mastery experiences are predicted to be the most powerful source of
self-efficacy through the cognitive processing of information. These experiences are the
most influential sources of self-efficacy because they provide the most authentic evidence
of whether one can accomplish a task (Bandura, 1997). Past performances, in terms of
perceptions concerning success and failure, influence subsequent self-efficacy beliefs.
Therefore, if one has repeatedly viewed these experiences as successes, self-efficacy
beliefs will increase; if these experiences are viewed as failures, self-efficacy beliefs will
decrease (Feltz & Lirgg, 2001). According to Bandura (1986), the weight given to new
experiences depends on the nature and strength of the preexisting self-perception into
which they must be integrated. For instance, individuals who experience periodic failures
but continue to improve over time are more apt to raise their perceived efficacy than
those who succeed but see their performances leveling off compared to their prior rate of
A second source of efficacy information involves vicarious experiences of
observing others achieve success. In other words, when individuals observed others
perform, they note the consequence of their performance and then use this information to
form judgments about one's own performance (Maddux, 1995). This form of information
can be strongly influenced by the observer's level of experience with successful
performance and their perceptions about personal similarity with the model. Efficacy
appraisals are considered to be especially sensitive to certain situations. For instance, the
amount of uncertainty an individual has about his own capabilities and the criteria by
which personal ability is based can strongly influence personal efficacy beliefs. Minimal
prior experience and ambiguous standards for successful performance can lower or
increase perceived efficacy because individuals are more likely to depend on the
performances of others to determine their own abilities. According to Bandura (1986),
people develop preconceptions of their own performance capabilities based upon the age,
sex, race, ethnic designation, and educational and socioeconomic level of the persons)
observed. These biases develop even though the performances of individuals within these
observed groups are extremely varied. Cultural stereotypes and generalizations based on
personal experiences can contribute to these presumptions.
Persuasion is considered to be another source of efficacy information. These
techniques exist in several forms, ranging from verbal persuasion (evaluative feedback,
expectations from others) to imagery (envisioning oneself performing in a successful
manner). It has been suggested that persuasion can have the greatest impact on people
who have some reason to believe that they can produce effects through their actions
(Chambliss & Murray, 1979). However, efficacy beliefs can be lowered if performance
expectancies expressed by the persuader are unrealistic. Factors such as the credibility,
prestige, and trustworthiness of the persuader influence the effects of the information
given. According to Bandura (1997), the debilitating effects of this information are more
powerful than the enabling effects. For instance, a coach who ridicules a player as a
method of motivation may actually discourage further participation and this criticism
may be more devastating than a coach removing a player from the given playing
Lastly, perceptions of self-efficacy can be obtained from one's physiological state.
One's perceptions of autonomic arousal, fatigue, windedness, aches and pains can
influence efficacy in both a positive and negative manner (Taylor, Bandura, Ewart, Miller
& DeBusk, 1985). Efficacy meanings will differ depending on one's inclination to view
arousal as facilitating or debilitating. For instance, interpreting autonomic arousal as a
signal of being psyched up, or conversely, a sign of fear and doubt, can influence efficacy
information. Therefore, within the athletic context, interpretations of physiological states
can be a strong indicator of the perseverance and activity one will endure when subject to
physical discomfort (Feltz & Lirgg, 2001).
Although the four sources of efficacy information are listed in hierarchical manner,
it should be noted they are not concrete, especially in regards to responding to different
types of activities. Additionally, research has not confirmed the ranking order for how
individuals process multiple efficacy sources.
Measurement of self-efficacy exists at several levels. Self-efficacy is considered
most useful when measures of self-efficacy and performance are specific to the
performance domain and occur closely in time (Bandura, 1977). For instance, measuring
one's self-efficacy for golf performance could involve understanding a player's beliefs
about success of attaining a specific score or achieving a specific shot distance. In
accordance with Bandura's recommendations and past research, this measurement should
occur within 24 hours of competition (Feltz & Lirgg, 2001). Existing measures that
assess self-efficacy have included hierarchical scales, nonhierarchical scales and one-item
Hierarchical scales are the most prevalent form used and include a listing of tasks
varying in difficulty, complexity, and stressfulness (Feltz & Lirgg, 2001). From the
listing, participants designate the tasks they have confidence in performing and ascertain
the degree of certainty they have for executing the task. Nonhierarchical scales involve
establishing a specific sport domain and including the subskills necessary to perform a
particular situation within this domain. For instance, measuring free-throw shooting
efficacy would require a player to list the elements required to successfully make a free-
throw such as body position on the free-throw line, hand position on the ball, when to
release the ball, etc. Lastly, one-item questions have been used where participants rate
how certain they are of their performance or of beating an opponent's performance.
However, these ratings yield a restricted range of scores and often fail to differentiate
between individuals who differ in their beliefs of personal efficacy (Feltz & Chase,
1998). For instance, two individuals who judge themselves equally inefficacious to fulfill
a difficult task demand may differ in their perceived efficacy for lower level demands
The majority of self-efficacy measures have been constructed for the purposes of a
given study. However, a more generalized measure of self-efficacy, designated as the
Physical Self-Efficacy Scale was developed (Ryckman, Robbins, Thornton, & Cantrell,
1982). Items exist on a 6-point Likert scale, where responses can range from 1 strongly
agree to 6 strongly disagree. Criticisms of the scale include it not being task-specific or
developed within a goal-striving context (Feltz & Chase, 1998).
Research derived from contrived athletic settings has demonstrated strong support
for the effects of self-efficacy on performance (Feltz, 1982). For instance, Miller (1993)
manipulated individual perceptions of self-efficacy for a 200-meter swim task.
Individuals were placed into either a high or low efficacious group. Findings showed
support for the hypothesis that efficacy strength would be positively related to
performance regardless of skill level. High efficacious swimmers performed at a faster
speed than low efficacious swimmers.
When making measurement comparisons between group and individual constructs,
group efficacy appears to include more elements than assessing self-efficacy (Bandura,
1997). As with any research conducted with groups, participant responses will contain
both individual and group components. Efficacy collected at the group level, comprised
of one rating representing the group's consensus about its collective abilities, can be
fallible because certain members of the group may influence the overall response given.
Thus, group level ratings may not represent the group's self-efficacy beliefs. Rousseau
(1985) stated that individual responses can be averaged to represent that of the group
when group members perceive their abilities within the team to function in the same way.
An average may also be appropriate with teams of low interdependency, such as golf or
gymnastics (Bandura, 1997). However, according to James (1982), when group
differences are not taken into consideration, aggregation biases can ensue. For instance, if
within-group variation is not taken into account, accumulating data at the individual level
will result in a bias unrepresentative of the data.
Finally, it should be noted that few qualitative studies have been reported that have
assessed collective efficacy. This is an important shortcoming because of the noted
difficulties of assessing group level constructs using surveys designed and validated on
individuals. Furthermore, due to the exploratory nature of most studies that have
examined collective efficacy and the established acceptance of qualitative methods in
sport and exercise psychology, it could be argued that qualitative methods are the most
appropriate approach to the study of collective efficacy in sport (Sparkes, 2002). These
issues will be discussed in an upcoming section.
Bandura (1990) addressed the efficacy of the individual athlete with self-efficacy
theory. However, many sports require the interactions of members within a team to
achieve athletic success. Therefore, Bandura (1997) theorized about the nature of group
level beliefs (i.e., collective efficacy). From this perspective, members' perceptions of the
group's ability as a whole is considered more relevant than how they perceive their
individual capabilities and is considered more complex than simply summing individual
efforts (Bandura, 1997). Within a team, judgments about a group's capabilities are
influenced by "what people choose to do as a group, how much effort they put into it and
their staying power when the group efforts fail to produce results" (Bandura, 1986,
p.449). Therefore, because many physical activities within the sport setting involve
groups or teams, sport and exercise psychology researchers should give consideration to
the role of collective efficacy.
Because collective efficacy has its roots in self-efficacy, it has been suggested that
these two constructs share similar sources of efficacy development (Feltz & Lirgg, 2001).
For example, mastery experiences are predicted to be the most powerful source of
information for both self and collective efficacy beliefs. According to Bandura (1997),
coaches may structure mastery experiences for their teams in order to cultivate percepts
of group efficacy creating styles of play that capitalize on the players' unique talents.
According to Bandura (1997), the perceived collective efficacy of a team can also
be influenced by social comparison processes with other teams. These vicarious
experiences could involve watching teams with a similar composition in terms of number
of players, style of play, and situational influences. Teams can compare their abilities
against other groups without having to single out individual members for social
evaluation. Therefore, group members are less susceptible to individual criticism when
compared with individuals of similar teams.
Watson and Chemers (1998) discussed the importance of leader effectiveness as an
influence over the team's overall sense of efficacy. Leaders who are highly regarded by
the team are believed to be especially important. Exceptional leadership will influence a
group's collective efficacy through modeling (Shamir, House, & Arthur, 1992). Leaders
can use this approach to help overcome insecurities felt by other team members
concerning team performance (Feltz & Lirgg, 2001). Conversely, negative coaching can
discourage the resiliency and achievement beliefs of the team (Feltz & Lirgg, 2001). For
instance, both verbal persuasion and dissuasion directed toward the group could be a
source for efficacy, especially if individual members observe their teammates being
strongly affected by the information (Bandura, 1990).
In conjunction with verbal persuasion, social influences can impact team
performance. Social influences may take the form of perceived attitudes or expectations
of significant others in an individual's life (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1981). In addition to the
social influence of teammates and coaches, persuasive information can originate from
spectators and the media. Teams that can see and hear the support of their fans may have
a stronger belief in their team's prospects for success than when they are playing in front
of a hostile home crowd. Likewise, teams whose performances are harshly criticized by
the media over time may increase their own self-doubt about their abilities (George &
Lastly, the physiological condition of the team could influence how members
perceive their capabilities for performance. For instance, how teammates perceive a
team's calm demeanor before competition in terms of facilitative or debilitative effects
could impact the ensuing performance. Additionally, the overall sense of a team's
emotional state can overshadow that of an individual member. Therefore, positive team
effects can alter an individual team member's negative perceptions. Conversely, negative
team effects can bring down the positive emotions of one of its athletes.
Related Dimensions of Group Efficacy Construct
The group efficacy construct includes the related factors of collective task efficacy
and collective interdependence effect (Mischel & Northcraft, 1997). The former concerns
members' beliefs of their group's knowledge related to the task, skill, and abilities in
order to perform a specific task in a successful manner. For instance, a basketball team
may set a goal of achieving a specific team field goal percentage for a game and will base
success on reaching or surpassing this number.
The collective interdependence effect, on the other hand, refers to members' beliefs
about the level of knowledge, skill, and ability a group has to perform a specific task
through effective interaction. Thus, when a basketball team applies full-court defensive
pressure, all players on the floor must commit to their roles in order to make a successful
steal or force a disruptive possession for the offense. Bandura states these two elements
(e.g., collective task efficacy and collective interdependence effect) moderate
relationships between perceptions of a team's capability and actual performance (1997).
Therefore, how a team expects to perform (e.g. setting a goal for team field goal
percentage, full-court defensive pressure forcing turnovers) before competition will
influence their subsequent performance. Because basketball is considered a highly
interdependent sport (Feltz & Lirgg, 2001), individuals within a team rely on one another
to achieve success. The ability of the team to achieve success will inevitably be
influenced by their collective beliefs "to organize and execute actions to produce a
desired goal" (Bandura, 1997). Therefore, the level of interdependence existing within
the team will influence and be influenced by the group's efficacy beliefs. Furthermore,
the ability of a team to reach a specific goal (e.g. achieving a specific field goal
percentage for a game) will influence the team's efficacy beliefs for achieving success.
Their ability to reach this task-based goal will constitute the team's collective task
efficacy. These constructs can influence whether a team achieves actual and/or
perceptions of the team's ability to reach full athletic capacity (Bandura, 1997).
Research Examining Group Efficacy
As stated previously, few studies in sport psychology literature have examined
group efficacy. However, the research that does exist has provided significant insights
into collective efficacy (Feltz & Lirgg, 1998; Hodges & Carron, 1992; Paskevich, 1995;
Watson & Chemers, 1998). Before Bandura defined efficacy with motor performance,
Zander (1971) completed a study that examined performance on a task and the effects of
bogus feedback. Participants completed short questionnaires and groups were formed
based on the false scoring of these questionnaires by the experimenter. Individuals were
placed into groups having a strong desire for group success and those having little interest
for group success. Assigned groups were then subject to a hand dynamometer strength
task. Subsequent performance revealed the high collective efficacy groups consistently
outperformed the low efficacy groups.
Weinberg and colleagues (Weinberg, Gould, Yukelson & Jackson, 1981) extended
Zander's study by combining the existing hand dynamometer task with an additional
medicine ball task. After participants completed the dynamometer strength test, efficacy
was manipulated by bogus feedback from an experimenter. High efficacy groups were
led to believe they were substantially superior to those of the confederate group.
Conversely, low efficacy groups were informed their total group scores were
substantially inferior to those of the confederate group. Once the efficacy perceptions
were produced, groups completed a medicine ball task where participants were positioned
to hold the ball adjacent to their bodies. Members of the high efficacy group maintained
ball position without dropping significantly longer than those in the low efficacy group.
These findings supported Bandura's theory of high efficacy groups persisting longer than
low efficacy groups.
The first study to examine team efficacy with actual sports teams over the course of
a season was conducted by Feltz and Lirgg (1998). Questionnaires completed by
intercollegiate hockey players within 24 hours of competition showed that aggregated
team efficacy beliefs (beliefs strictly concerning the team) were a stronger predictor for
performance than aggregated player efficacy beliefs (beliefs strictly concerning the
individual athlete). In concordance with Bandura's theory (1997), past team performance
was shown to influence team efficacy beliefs to a greater extent than player efficacy
beliefs. Also in agreement with Bandura's theory (1997), collective efficacy was a
stronger predictor of team performance for teams with high levels of interdependency
(e.g., hockey) than it is for less interdependent teams (e.g., collegiate team swimmers).
Because the study lasted the duration of a playing season, the team's fluctuating efficacy
beliefs were also observed. The results showed that hockey coaches interpreted end of
semester worries and distractions as factors influencing their team's efforts. Unless part of
the first-place team, players felt as if they had not fulfilled the team's expectations for
success (Feltz & Lirgg, 1998).
Myers, Short and Feltz (2003) also observed the efficacy phenomenon over the
course of a season with intact sports teams. Using quantitative methods, this study
assessed collective and individual efficacy beliefs for ensuing offensive performances for
American football teams. Furthermore, as advocated by Bandura (1997), questionnaires
were completed within 24 hours of competition. Results showed collective efficacy
beliefs were a stronger predictor of passing performance than were self-efficacy beliefs
and that a reciprocal relationship between collective efficacy and passing performance
existed over the course of the season. Furthermore, early and late season collective
efficacy beliefs appeared more homogeneous than midseason beliefs.
Zhang, Hausenblas, Barkouras, and Pease (2002) attempted to examine individual
and group properties related to collective efficacy within the sport setting. In order to
adjust for individual and group correlations, researchers separated the elements into two
units of analyses. The procedures developed by Kenny and La Voie (1985) allow for the
computation of individual and team correlations without the influence of one unit of
analysis on the other. These procedures differ from the general linear model (Jackson,
1989; Pedhazur, 1982; Pedhazur & Schmelkin, 1991) and HLM (Zhu, 1997) because
calculations are made for overall adjusted correlations, instead of examining the
equivalence of regression coefficients over groups or identifying the variables
contributing to correlations at individual and group levels (Zhang et. al., 2002). Varsity
high school male basketball players completed the Basketball Collective Efficacy
Questionnaire, a design measuring individual perceptions of group competence (Zhang et
al., 2002). Respondents answered a total of 48 questions on a 7-point Likert scale with
answer alternatives ranging from strongly disagree to strongly agree. Head coaches
completed the Team Winning Index measuring team-winning capacity utilizing several
variables including league standings and winning percentage rate (Zhang et al., 2002).
Both measures were constructed by the authors of the manuscript utilizing findings from
previous research (Bandura, 1977; Mischel & Northcraft, 1997; and Zaccora, Blair,
Peterson, and Zazanis, 1995). Significant intercorrelations at the individual and team
levels, as well as significant intraclass correlations justified the need to simultaneously
study individual and group effects. Findings showed correlations at the team level
increased while conversely decreased at the individual level. Comparing the adjusted
coefficients with those unadjusted correlations, it appears that team efficacy may be more
a function of team norm (Zhang et al., 2002). Rather, group efficacy may be more
accurately assessed utilizing group, rather than individual responses.
If it can be assumed that collective efficacy is something more than the sum of
individual efficacies, then perhaps a relationship exists between additional group
processes and collective efficacy (Spink, 1990). According to Bandura (1997), group
cohesiveness largely reflects a team's sense of collective efficacy through such factors as
motivation, regulation of effort and strategy of thinking. Both constructs have been
positively linked to performance success and increased persistence in pursuing group
tasks (Hodges & Carron, 1992). Collective efficacy fulfills the aspirational element of
group cohesion in that a strong commitment to common desires and a persistent belief in
the group's ability to achieve important goals are the main influences on team
performance (Mullen & Copper, 1994). Examining the relationship between group
cohesion and collective efficacy, Spink (1990) found volleyball teams high in collective
efficacy were found to be more cohesive than teams low in collective efficacy.
A team's collective efficacy may also be related to individual level motivation.
Perceptions of the motivational climate operating on sport teams have been shown to
influence player satisfaction with team membership, intrinsic motivation, beliefs about
the determinants of success, self-efficacy, and perceived functions of sport participation
(Kavussanu, M. & Roberts, G.C. 1996; Treasure, 1997; Walling et al., 1993).
Specifically, an environment emphasizing the importance of performance success is
linked with less adaptive motivational/affective responses as opposed to one involving
sport participation (Ntoumanis, N. & Biddle, S.J.H., 1999). Zander's study (1971)
illustrated that groups with a strong desire for success outperformed groups with a
weaker desire for success. By manipulating the perceived roles of an experimental group,
Zander (1971) found those individuals placed in a central role, such as a team captain or
coach, felt greater responsibility for the fate of the group, than individuals who were
dependent on them. Additionally, when a group has succeeded more often than it has
failed over a significant period of time, members of that group are more interested in the
activity and have a stronger desire for their group to perform well (Zander, 1971). Similar
to self-efficacy, teams who perform successfully influence the perceived collective
efficacy, which could then affect future behaviors directed toward group success.
Additional considerations in the study of collective efficacy involve the effect of
group efficacy on teams with different skill levels. Because elite athletes must be highly
skilled in order to be a team member, a strong sense of cohesion may improve beliefs
about a team's potential to interact and perform successfully (Spink, 1990). However,
recreational teams may be created for various personal and social reasons. Because skill
is not a requisite for group membership, a high sense of cohesion will not always
translate into heightened beliefs of the team's ability to perform (Spink, 1990). Therefore,
reasons for a group's formation should be considered in order to understand how efficacy
may influence its members' thoughts and actions (Bandura, 1997).
Because self-efficacy theory originated as part of social cognitive theory (Bandura,
1986), its transference to the athletic setting deserves further examination. The sport
confidence (Vealey, 1986, 2001) model adopted Bandura's (1986) theoretical framework
for self-efficacy to the unique nature of the athletic setting (Vealey, 1986). Its relevance
to the sport setting is further supported by the use of confidence in everyday language
and as a "catchword in sports" (Bandura, 1997, p. 382). The construct, as defined by
Vealey (1986), is the belief one has about being able to execute a specific task
successfully to obtain a desired outcome.
Several components of Vealey's (2001) most recent sport confidence model help to
distinguish an individual's level of sport confidence: a single sport confidence construct,
the inclusion of organizational culture unique to the athletic setting, and source allocation
of confidence unique to sport (Vealey, Hayashi, Garner-Holman, & Giacobbi, 1998). The
inclusion of a single construct, as opposed to trait and state confidence constructs, was
designed to remove the influence of dispositional traits of individual athletes and instead
focus on the role of the kinds of situations that enhance or decrease confidence in athletes
(Vealey, 2001). Organizational culture refers to the level of competition, motivational
climate, and the goals and structural expectations of particular sport programs (Vealey,
2001). For example, teams created within a recreational environment will have different
performance expectations than a collegiate team with scholarship and coaching resources.
Similar to self-efficacy, performance accomplishments are considered an important
source of confidence. Additionally, vicarious experience, in the form of watching others
perform successfully, is considered a source influencing both self-efficacy and sport
confidence. Currently, four inventories exist that assess the sport confidence model: the
Trait Sport Confidence Inventory, the State Sport Confidence Inventory, the Competitive
Orientation Inventory, and the Sources of Sport Confidence Questionnaire (Roberts &
Vealey, 1992; Vealey, 1986, 1988; Vealey & Campbell, 1988; Vealey & Sinclair, 1987).
Based on research developed within self-efficacy theory (Bandura, 1990), a four-
phase research process ensued to examine the sources of confidence unique to athletes
within the sporting context (Vealey, 2001). This research project produced the Sources of
Sport Confidence Questionnaire that identified nine sources of confidence in athletes
(SSCQ; Vealey et al., 1998). Through the process of validating the SSCQ, the authors
found that mastery, social support, physical/mental preparation (feeling physically and
mentally prepared with an optimal focus for performance), coach's leadership, and
demonstration of ability as the top five sources of sport confidence (Vealey et al., 1998).
Considering that four of the five salient sources are conceptually similar to the efficacy
sources as proposed by Bandura (1986), it would appear that the efficacy and sport
confidence constructs share a certain degree of congruence.
Current Study Rationale
An abundance of research surrounds group activity in sport (Spink, 1990; Watson
& Chemers, 1998; Zhang et al.; 2002). Previous discussions have underscored numerous
constructs interacting with Bandura's group efficacy theory (1997). These include
cohesion, motivation, sport confidence, and reasons for group formation all of which are
important within the sporting context. Group efficacy stands alone, however, in its
attempt to understand how cognitive processes at the individual level are influenced by
social interactions within a sport context which further influence how much effort players
put forth together, their ability to remain perseverant and task oriented during periods
when the team is struggling, and their capability to bounce back from setbacks (Bandura,
1997). Previous research has been scrutinized because of difficulty attempting to separate
individual and group influences on group efficacy beliefs (Feltz & Lirgg, 1998; Zhang et
al., 2001). Existing self-efficacy measures use hierarchical, non-hierarchical, and one-
item questionnaires. At the present time, these measures do not sufficiently assess
efficacy at the group level. The complexity of group phenomena influences the
development of these measures. Bandura (1986) notes the future success of the concept
hinges upon the development of reliable measures to assess collective efficacy. Perhaps a
better understanding of group efficacy can be gained using qualitative methods where the
interaction between, as opposed to the separation of, individual and group components
can be further explored. The question remains what research methodology can further the
progression of understanding collective efficacy? Conceptual and theoretical
development is necessary to evaluate the characteristics and components existing within
group efficacy. Because it has been hypothesized that efficacy beliefs may contribute to
persistence, effort, choice of activities and mastery attempts (Feltz & Lirgg, 2001), future
exploration of these behaviors may provide significant advancement to the field.
Philosophical Issues Related to the Current Study
The research methods chosen by researchers are implicitly linked to deeper
philosophical issues (Martens, 1987). Therefore, the techniques chosen by the researcher
should be thoroughly scrutinized for their applicability to the proposed project. When
beginning the research process, two questions should be attended to: (1) what
methodologies and methods will be employed and (2) how do we justify this choice
(Crotty, 1998)? Because this thesis project attempted to understand team efficacy in a
qualitative manner, the researcher's motives and choices regarding the methodology
deserve particular attention. Furthermore, the underlying philosophical assumptions (e.g.,
epistemology) guiding the research process should be clearly stated (Creswell, 2003).
The following sections will outline the guiding epistemological viewpoints in the current
As discussed, group efficacy is considered to be a complex phenomenon in that
individual components do not completely reflect the beliefs of the group as a whole.
Furthermore, the researcher's documentation of this team is specific to the 2002-2003
playing season and explicitly involves members of the team and other important
individuals in this context (e.g., coaches, administration, family). Therefore, the
researcher and participants worked together as co-participants in the field.
Adopting a paradigm remains an essential component to understanding a
researcher's reasons for studying a specific phenomenon. This researcher's chosen
paradigm, or belief system, originates from social constructivism. A major tenet of this
viewpoint states that human behavior is created and thus not pre-existing. In the words of
social psychologist George Herbert Mead, "every person is a social construction. We
come to be persons in and out of interactions with our society" (1934). Stanley Fish, cited
in Crotty (1998), described the reality of our social constructions, fittingly within a
"Balls' and 'Strikes' are certainly socially constructed. They exist as such because
of the rules of the game. Yet they are real. Some people are paid as much as $3.5
million to produce them or prevent their production. They are constructions, and
may change in their nature tomorrow if the powers-that-be decide to change the
rules, but they are real, nonetheless."
The experiences of this women's basketball team during the 2002-2003 playing
season were considered real to the individuals involved. Furthermore, these occurrences
were distinct to this particular place and time. Members' beliefs were created according
to the different social and playing situations happening within and surrounding the team.
As the primary researcher observing the team in all of these team contexts, I was privy to
specific situations and the circumstances in which they occurred. Any attempt to recreate
these experiences in another context is fallible and may not accurately portray what truly
occurred within the team. However, certain characteristics of this situation may
generalize to other athletic contexts. Possibilities include, and are not limited to,
comparisons with highly interdependent teams, gender-specific sports, and athletic
contexts with varying lengths of playing seasons.
Within the research process, the chosen epistemology will provide a philosophical
grounding for deciding what kinds of knowledge are possible and are adequate and
legitimate (Maynard, 1994). This component concerns a way of understanding and
explaining how we know what we know (Maxwell, 1996). Constructivism, the category
enveloping social constructivism, states no objective truth awaits our discovery. Instead,
meaning is constructed by the mind. In this understanding of knowledge, it is clear that
different people may construct meaning in different ways, even in relation to the same
phenomenon (Crotty, 1998). Thus, any findings related to this study can only be linked to
my personal interpretations of how I saw group efficacy occurring.
According to Crotty (1998), one's ontological views are linked to their
epistemological views in order to inform the researcher's chosen theoretical perspective.
Therefore, the researcher's assumptions about the ensuing research, as well as the
methodology chosen, are prominent features existing within a theoretical perspective.
Although I had no prior hypotheses stated, I did have assumptions about the direction the
individual and group interviews were leading. As such, it was important that I 1) be
aware of these biases and 2) not let these postulations hinder the research process. This
reflexive process formed the foundation for my interpretations of how team efficacy
developed within this team.
From a social constructivist perspective, several characteristics lend themselves to
the adoption of a grounded theory or qualitative methodological approach. According to
Charmaz (1990), following a social constructionist perspective fosters creating categories
of the research participant's beliefs and actions. In order to create these categories, the
researcher must have a firm grounding in sociological concepts without being wedded to
them (Charmaz, 1990). The research process was largely inductive where the study's
findings were based upon particular findings from this season and in the future may be
subject to possible generalizations at a later time (Henwood & Pidgeon, 1992).
Additionally, the researcher's personal beliefs interacted with other members'
interpretations of team confidence in a reflexive manner. The socially constructed
environment created by members of the team was based on the combination of individual
perspectives to form one that exists within this particular time and place. The interaction
between the researcher and the data resulted in a discovery process with the eventual goal
of constructing analyses. Hence, this constructionist approach offered an open-ended and
flexible means of studying both fluid interactive processes and more stable social
structures (Charmaz, 1990).
Numerous exploration possibilities pervade the field of collective efficacy research.
However, the studies that have examined collective efficacy adopt either quantitative
measures for assessment or consist of manufactured teams in a contrived athletic setting.
Because the themes undermining efficacy are just beginning to emerge, a fruitful line of
research includes the exploration of the salient ideas pertaining to the concept. As such,
the following grounded theory approach explored the development of collective efficacy
within a women's basketball team throughout the course of a competitive season. This
study examined individual, social, and contextual influences on individual and group
levels of efficacy as it developed and changed throughout the course of the season.
Specifically, the gathering of data through the researcher's observations, individual and
group interviews, reflexive journaling, informal conversations, and tape-recorded
reflections were conducted to assess the development of the collective efficacy construct.
This paper has important implications for assessing collective efficacy in several research
areas, including perceptions of a team's resiliency to failure as assessed by its team
members during pivotal junctures in the season.
Participants and Setting
Participants included 11 collegiate female basketball players attending a
community college located in the southeastern United States. Members originated from
the southern region of the country and all were classified as either collegiate freshman or
sophomores. All members of the team were included in the study and ages of players
ranged from 18-21 years (M=19.26). Racial demographics of the team included 6
African-Americans, 3 Caucasians and 2 players of Latin-American descent. Years of
basketball experience varied greatly among players, ranging from 10 years to less than 4
years of competitive experience. Many players fulfilled pivotal roles within their high
school teams (e.g., Most Valuable Player, Team Captain, Best Defense, Hustle Award)
and earned recognition for exceptional play (e.g., Tournament MVPs; All-County and
All-State Honors). All members received athletic funding for their participation and thus
were considered "scholarship-athletes."
For the purposes of this thesis project, I utilized group and individual interviews as
the primary source of data. These methods were guided by the work of Charmaz (1990,
2002) and Strauss and Corbin (1990, 1998). In addition, other forms of information were
included (e.g., media artifacts, game statistics, and observational data). These methods
and procedures will be discussed in an upcoming section.
Trust and Rapport Building Procedures
This qualitative study utilized a grounded theory (e.g., Strauss & Corbin, 1990,
1998) approach to explore the development and maintenance of group efficacy with all
members of a highly interdependent sports team. Because the researcher and members of
this team acted as co-participants in the field, the intimate familiarity shared between the
researcher and team members was considered of utmost importance (Lofland, 1984). In
order to establish rapport with the players, the researcher assumed a volunteer coaching
role with the team. As such, the researcher was present for every home game and
approximately 80% of the team's away games. Additionally, the researcher observed
team practices throughout the season. Previous experience as a collegiate player and
university instructor in the specified sport contributed to the accuracy of the researcher's
perceptions of experiences occurring within the team. In addition to offering expertise,
the situation allowed the researcher to form relationships with players in order to
facilitate the building of trust. Finally, all participants received information about their
rights as research participants and informed consent procedures were followed
throughout the entire investigation (See Appendix E). These steps were taken in order to
ensure reliability of data sources, including members' interview responses.
The head coach for the community college team was contacted and permission was
granted to interview individual players for the purposes of this project. Participants
received information concerning the study rationale, the use of interview data, and issues
of confidentiality prior to the start of each individual interview. The necessity of tape
recording each interview was also explained as was the future examination of interviews
in the transcription process. These steps, in addition to the specified coaching role taken
by the interviewer, contributed to the trust building process between the researcher and
the participants (Fontana & Frey, 2000).
A series of group interviews were conducted to examine individual and collective
beliefs involving efficacy occurring within the team. Two pilot group interviews were
conducted, one during the first week of preseason training and a second during the first
week of the regular season. The purposes of these pilot group interviews were to establish
trust and rapport with the participants and to refine the existing interview guide (See
Appendix A). Prior to each group interview, team members were gathered and interview
procedures were reiterated including issues of confidentiality and anonymity. During the
first interview, players responded to open-ended questions involving team confidence
levels, perceived team characteristics and efficacy sources. The initial team interview
lasted approximately forty minutes1.
The second group interview allowed the researcher to review individual interview
responses from the first group interview. Also discussed were any discrepancies existent
in the recorded interviews in an effort to seek clarification. The second interview lasted
approximately sixty minutes. Both group interviews were tape-recorded. Additionally,
the second group interview was video-recorded in order to assign voice recognition to
appropriate members and to observe individuals within the group environment. These
responses were then expanded upon in order to gain a thorough understanding of the
relationship existing between individual and group efficacy beliefs occurring prior to the
1It should be noted the researcher experienced "technical difficulties" when videotaping the initial group interview. A
tape recorder was used to retain participant responses for subsequent transcription purposes.
A third group interview occurred following the conclusion of the competitive
playing season. Players were assembled to reflect upon the team's past experiences and to
discuss current efficacy beliefs. This interview occurred upon the completion of the
individual player interviews and lasted approximately 60 minutes. Responses from the
postseason interview served as a method of constant comparison between different
players as well as various experiences that occurred throughout the year (See Glossary of
A series of individual player interviews allowed for comparisons between player
responses along differing time contexts. The individual player interview guides (See
Appendices C and D) were developed in conjunction with existing research examining
collective and group efficacy (Bandura, 1997; Feltz & Lirgg, 1998). Open-ended
questions involving player's efficacy beliefs and probes were administered at the
discretion of the researcher in order to facilitate question understanding and answer
clarification. The duration of individual interviews ranged from 20 minutes to 1 hour.
After completion of the interview, all interviews were transcribed verbatim and a brief
summary of the interviewer's observations were made available to respondents in order
to clarify researcher's interpretations of players' statements. This procedure served as a
member check (See e.g., Sparkes, 1998).
The Use of a Reflexive Journal
In addition to individual and group interviews, the primary researcher maintained a
reflexive journal throughout the data collection process in which reflections concerning
personal observations, conversations, and game scenarios were recorded. This method
lays a paper-trail for later scrutiny by external researchers and further public examination
(Henwood & Pidgeon, 1992).
Grounded Theory Data Analytic Procedures
According to Charmaz (2000), grounded theory permits the initial research
questions to be concrete and descriptive, but the researcher can develop deeper analytic
questions by studying his or her data. This approach to theory development includes, but
is not limited to, observations, conversations, formal interviews, public records,
respondents' diaries and journals, and researcher's tape-recorded reflections (Charmaz,
2000). Therefore, multiple strategies exist to re-create the socially constructed world of
the participantss. This technique allows the researcher to offer "analytic explanations of
actual problems and basic processes in the research setting" (Charmaz, 2000). This
inductive process was adopted for the purposes of this study. The interview procedures
are discussed below (as stated in Giacobbi, Hausenblas, Fallon & Hall, 2002).
1. The first author transcribed all tape-recorded individual and group interviews. The
purpose of this transcription process is to provide written documentation of the
players' experiences with the inclusion of specific terminology and language as
spoken by the participants. It should be noted the researcher is not able to analyze
data through this process.
2. Individual and group interview transcriptions were further evaluated by a research
group consisting of individuals knowledgeable in grounded theory processes. These
researchers initiated a theme coding process, similar to the one instigated by the
primary researcher, as a method of analyzing the data. This process included a line-
by-line coding of the interview text and developed raw data themes in the form of
quotations from the participants (Charmaz, 2000). Comparisons were made
between the primary researcher's understanding of interview responses and those
made by the research group. Upon agreement, the relevant themes underscoring the
development of group efficacy were visually represented in figure format.
3. Throughout the line-by-line coding process, a form of "sensitizing concepts"
guided the researchers' interpretations for the emerging theory of group efficacy.
These "points of departure" from which future analysis can evolve include previous
group efficacy research and additional forms of group interactions (Charmaz, 2000,
p.515). In addition, research pertaining to self-efficacy and sport confidence is also
4. Upon completion of the line-by-line coding process, the text then underwent a
constant comparative method whereby similarities and differences in the
participants' responses were fully explored (Charmaz, 2000; Strauss & Corbin,
1990). While this progression allowed for the consolidation of analogous themes,
the coding process also allowed irrelevant categories to be discarded. Further
analysis of these codes allowed for the comparisons of different people,
comparisons of the same people at different points in time, comparisons of
incidents, comparison of data and category, and comparison of one category with
other categories in existence (Glaser, 1978). After identifying these initial codes,
otherwise referred to as tags (Cote, Salmela & Baria, 1993), those with similar
meanings were assembled together with a label capturing the substance of the topic
(Miles & Huberman, 1984). This process permits the creation of categories that
depict the information subsumed by the initial tags (Cote et al., 1993).
5. Once the raw data themes have been extracted from the text, these units of analysis
were then placed into more general and abstract dimensions through the process of
axial and open coding (see Glossary of Terms for further explanation). The purpose
of these procedures is "to make researchers' emerging theories denser, more
complex, and more precise" (Charmaz, 2000 p.515).
6. The research group played an intricate part in the development of theory as these
members questioned the researcher's observations and interpretations of the
interview text (Dale, 1996). For instance, research meetings involved two members
reading aloud the interview text where each individual played the role of
interviewer or participant. By playing the role of "devil's advocate" (Dale, 1996),
this group served as a form of validation for the researcher's interpretations
throughout the analysis process.
The researcher's previous experiences and present role within the sport setting
undoubtedly influenced the analysis of interview text. As such, the adoption of grounded
theory procedures allowed the researcher's previous beliefs to aid in the development of
new theories emerging from the data (Charmaz, 1990). Every effort was made to
assimilate the actual experiences of the participants with those of the researcher's
interpretations. The emerging framework from these interpretations formulated a theory
concerning the formation and development of group efficacy.
This chapter presents the results of inductive analyses that resulted from individual
player and team interviews. Information from these interviews was organized into two
conceptual frameworks that represented the major influence on the team's efficacy during
the 2002-2003 playing season. Appendix F shows the themes produced from the
preseason interviews while Appendix G represents the themes produced from the
postseason interviews. The frameworks were constructed such that raw data themes (the
most basic units) are categorized in more abstract groups (first order themes) and finally
described in terms of general dimensions of team efficacy. Then, a grounded theory was
developed that demonstrated how the various sources of efficacy influenced team
interaction across the length of the season (See Appendix H).
The following labels and member descriptions are intended to provide the reader
with background information concerning the specific individuals involved in the creation
and development of efficacy within this team. In addition, these labels should aid the
reader in separating member perceptions as displayed by the quotes throughout Chapters
4 and 5.
Player A: 2nd year veteran residing within the state; developed scholarship status this
season after maintaining "walk-on" status the previous season. This member played the
point guard position and was considered a role player who relieved those members
receiving more playing minutes during games.
Player B: 2nd year veteran residing within the state; recruited to play for the community
college. She was elected team captain by team peers and played a significant role as a
starting guard expected to contribute leadership and offensive skills to the program.
Player C: 1st year player returning to the state after attending high school in another
state. As one of the few post players on the team, this player found her role and playing
minutes significantly increased due to the season-ending injury occurring to a fellow
Player D: 2nd year player residing within the state. Prior to the start of the school year,
this guard transferred from another successful community college program within the
conference. She cited lack of playing time and problems within player/coach dynamics as
reasons for the transfer.
Player E: 1st year player residing in a neighboring state; one of the first players recruited
to play for the college by the newly hired coach. This post player was a significant
contributor to the team's efforts as she was the first substitute coming off the bench
during games. She was one of the few players to publicly announce her homosexual
Player F: 2nd year player residing within the state; played a significant role as a starting
post player until a knee injury unexpectedly ended her season. She returned to the team
after surgery as a vocal leader during practice and games.
Player G: 1st year player and former in-state high school teammate of Player B. This
member was a significant contributor at the point guard position until her early departure
from the team during Christmas break. Upon returning to the team, this player's
contributions to the team were lessened as observed through decreased playing time and
Player H: 1st year player residing within the state; recruited to play for the college. This
member was a significant contributor as a starting post player throughout the season. Her
athleticism, strong work ethic and vocal leadership led to her election as the only
freshman team captain.
Player I: 1st year player residing within the state; recruited to play for the college. This
member was initially hesitant during practice and games but continued to improve as the
season progressed. She became a regular starter and focal point of the team's offensive
strategy, as well as a member who added humor to the group atmosphere.
Player J: 1st year player residing within the state; was a late addition to the team. This
member played significant minutes at the point guard position until poor academics
during the first semester created her ineligible status for the remainder of the season. She
continued to practice and attend all team functions as her membership status did not
change. Despite the disappointing situation, this player continued to practice with high
levels of intensity and became a vocal leader during games.
Player K: 2nd year player residing within the state. This member was considered the most
dominant team player as modeled by her level of play and vocal capabilities. As a starting
guard, she was expected to be an offensive threat as a scorer and primary ballhandler. She
also acted as a liason between the players and coaches as she often voiced the
information/concerns of these two sides.
Sources of Team Efficacy of a Women's Basketball Team
The main purposes of this study were to explore the formation and development of
team efficacy within a community college women's basketball team. As shown in
Appendix F, the inductive analysis revealed three general dimensions that influenced
preseason team efficacy beliefs: (a) team exchanges, (b) preseason training and (c)
positive leadership influence. The influences perceived by players as being positive (+)
and negative (-) are labeled in Appendices F and G. Further analysis of the general
dimensions, including representative player quotes, will be discussed in the following
Team exchanges(-). Fifteen raw order themes defined the general dimension of
team exchanges between team members. Individual and team interviews described this
general dimension in terms of perceived concerns about the number and intensity of team
obligations. These expectations required members to participate collectively in most, if
not all, of the team activities. The raw data themes emerging from this dimension were
primarily based on perceptions that "we're always together all the time" and "we are
spending too much time together." With regard to specific activities, scholastic duties
where expectations of "three or four study halls so our whole day is occupied" and living
situations where "you just get frustrated with your roommates to the point that you just
don't want to be there" appeared to influence player interaction off the court. Additional
team interactions also appeared to unfavorably influence efficacy beliefs: "I think we had
so many demands to be these ideal athletes and community citizens, we had so many
commitments." For some members, the living situation proved taxing: "I don't really
hang out with them because I don't think we have anything in common...". Furthermore,
"some people [teammates] liked each other and some people [teammates] were dating
each other, that probably wasn't good." Further analysis defined the category of team
exchanges into the following first order themes: living arrangements, school
requirements, team activities and social interactions. Players perceived these themes as
negatively impacting the team due to the number and array of expectations these
activities incorporated. Members expressed the unfavorable emotions felt for other team
members would be lessened if given the opportunity; however, the required time
commitment made this ideal situation difficult. Therefore, the negative team exchanges
experienced off the court then emerged throughout other group interactions. The four first
order themes will now be discussed in more detail.
Living arrangements(-). The twelve scholarship players were required to reside in
a nearby apartment complex with designated teammates assigned by the head coach.
Thus, many members of the team shared dual teammate/roommate roles. Many players
perceived this situation as negatively impacting the team. For example, Player H
described her inability to stay situated within an assigned apartment, specifically citing
her roommates' cleanliness issues and wanting to socialize with those unaffiliated with
the team as her main reasons for escape.
I don't live in my apartment. I don't know, I don't even like being over there...you
just get frustrated with your roommates to the point that you just don't want to be
there. I have no problem with my roommates, it's just that I'm a very clean person
so I don't like when someone's nasty and when you tell them repeatedly and they
don't care so why should I care? I'm not going to clean up after you, that's how I
feel. You left your Momma at home so if you want her to clean up, you call her to
come out here and clean up ... Most of the people who did everything together,
they don't live together. It's like everyone lives in different apartments ...
everybody has their little people they hang out with. In season, you have to be
around them because you see them all the time. I talk to my teammates but I don't
just sit around and hang out with people, hang out with the ones I could care less
about cause they want to do stuff that's ridiculous.
In addition, the actions of team members during "free time" proved unfavorable to
those roommates not participating in these selected activities. For instance, one apartment
received alcohol fines by their landlord for underage drinking. Those members not
participating in the illegal activity were also subject to punishment. Due to these events,
some members expressed interest in finding a living environment separated from
teammates as voiced by Player D.
And living together? That's another thing. If I wasn't on scholarship and I didn't
live with them [teammates]. You know, even if I am on scholarship and I was like
Joan and getting to live somewhere else, I would choose that. I would honestly
choose that because I am in an environment where I can't win. No matter what I
do, no matter if I'm sitting in my room being innocent, I'm still guilty because I'm
in the room. I'm in that house and that, how fair is that to me? That's not fair to
me at all and so, outside of basketball, no, no relationship with anybody on the
team at all.
The effects of the living situation appeared to surface in the home environment, but
also within the playing environment. Events that would occur on the court would be
transferred to situations occurring at home and vice-versa. Player E described the
consequences of the alcohol punishments as they appeared to influence the team within
At first we started off good but I think it's because nobody knew each other and we
were just getting to know each other. Then we just recently had a huge
confrontation on the team that is kind of over and kind of not. And, um, right now
everybody would say like, our team, we started off everybody got along really good
and I don't know what happened. But now, it's like everybody has these two
people they can't stand so it cause a lot of arguments and stuff on the team. Like at
home we fight a lot.
School requirements(-). Similarly, academic demands appeared to provide another
adverse example of time shared together between teammates. This is illustrated through
the number of mutual classes and study halls players were required to attend. One player
described her perceptions of the unfair expectations placed on her teammates: "I feel like
some of the people on our team, they have like three or four study halls or whatever. I
know it sounds like I'm exaggerating, but they have their whole day occupied."
In addition, a daily routine developed in which members were interacting in
numerous environments including those related to home, school, and basketball. Many
players described these activities in relation to everyday "chores." For instance, the
following member illustrated the breakdown of these requirements and the adverse effect
they created between teammate/roommate relationships.
I see them in the morning in the cafeteria and I see them at school. Then we go
back to the apartment and I see them there you know. And I see them when we
come back to the apartment and I see them there you know. And I see them when
we come back from the gym. I see them in study hall from 1:30-3:30. We all come
back in the locker room from 3:30-4 and we go to practice from 4-6:30. And then
depending on what night it is depends on what we eat. You know we go back to the
apartments and it's 7:30 or 8 and we'll still see them. And then you just kinda, like
I'll go in my room and shut my door and I can still hear them. Because the walls
are so thin and they'll be so loud next door. I can still hear Lisa and all them. I
mean it doesn't really bother me, but I just gotta get some of my own space
sometimes cause I see them so much.
Social interactions(-). In addition to the interactions already mandated by the
nature of shared residence, academics and sport, the team environment fostered the
unexpected development of various cross-cultural and sexual issues occurring within the
team. Team members chose to engage in various sexual activities with one another and
the emotions culminating from these experiences in turn influenced teammate/roommate
interactions. Player E explained her views concerning the various activities engaged by
her teammates and their overall effect on team relationships.
I think with certain people that was negative, and with two people in general, it
wasn't... Everybody knows about Julie and Jenny. I didn't have a problem with
that, everything else that was going on ... I had a big problem with that. There
was just a big circle of people doing what they didn't need to be doing with
teammates just for the heck of it and I didn't like that at all. Cause that caused
problems and they got mad and you're talking to her and you're not talking to me.
This is ridiculous, I didn't like that.
Although some members chose to engage in these activities, other members
separated themselves from the previously mentioned behaviors. These members
experienced personal discomfort of how to handle teammate interactions, and responded
with various coping strategies. Specifically, Player B chose to join in alcohol
consumption with other members not participating in team relations, and then in
contradicting fashion expressed certainty that the sexual activities had little effect on the
team as a whole.
We're just going to sit here and drink because everybody was gay. We didn't hang
out with them. It would be me, Janet, Joyce and that was it. Us five, the five
white girls basically. They didn't care, it's just not what they did. I don't think it
hindered the team. I don't think it did anything. I think it affected them in a
positive way and it didn't affect them in a negative way. It was just something that
Players discussed the role of racial divisions between the African-American and
Caucasian team members. This separation was most evident in the social environment,
including roommate interaction and "free time" activities. Player G, a Caucasian member,
expressed discomfort while watching a television program critical of her race.
They're just, pretty much everybody is an acquaintance to me except for Jenny,
Joyce and Sheila. Everybody else, I just see them on the court. But the other people
I named, I know them. But I try not to let that bother me. I'm just here to do my job
and not try to make friends with them. I'm not going out of my way to hang out
with them cause I don't want to. I mean, I could have pretended to enjoy BET and
laugh at the T.V. about something that's not funny, making cracks about white
Preseason training(+). The general dimension of preseason training consisted of
six raw data themes that included influences of "noticeable muscle tone" and the
capability of "running gassers successfully" that culminated in "feeling in better shape."
Many members had little or no previous experience with a preseason basketball
conditioning program and this resulted in some skepticism from the players. Upon
observing visible body and cardiovascular results, the conditioning program was received
favorably by team members: "I liked it because it got me strong. I like muscles."
Specifically, team members discussed the significance of the elected team captains
during the preseason conditioning. "We were all out of shape and we just didn't think we
could do it, but [Player K] would say something like, 'Come on girls, we can do it' and
then everyone else would start doing it.' Further analysis of the preseason training
defined this category into two first order themes: conditioning program and modeling.
Conditioning program(+). Preseason interviews revealed players interpreted the
conditioning program as the most prominent positive influence on team efficacy. Because
the majority of players distinguished these conditioning sessions as positively affecting
the team, the elevated efficacy beliefs experienced during this time were not surprising.
For instance, Player H reported the influence of verbal collaboration between team
members concerning the successful completion of timed sprints, otherwise referred to as
During the conditioning 'cause it was really hard and sometimes we didn't really
feel like doing it. Some days ... it's not even the workout part, it was the end part.
We had to motivate each other to get through those gassers, they are really, really
hard. They are really, really tiring. That's the part I think when everybody had a
lot of confidence in each other, boosting each other up.
Furthermore, as the preseason progressed, the expectations for the number of
"gassers" completed also increased. As the team continued to achieve or surpass these
goals, efficacy among members continued to rise. Player K expressed her thoughts
concerning preseason success and its influence on the ensuing regular season.
I mean, we basically did like a month, I wouldn't say hell, but physically it felt like
hell. Even though you were accomplishing something, it wasn't that mental thing
that got to you, it was that physical thing that you felt. And I think when we had to
do five gassers at the beginning of the season, we were like, "you gotta be playing
with me!", that's like forty down and backs or something. So we took it for
granted, I think at the end of the season when we already knew we had moved up to
two, we did three, we did four, we came into that thing in like, if we did four, we're
going to do five, we can do this you know. And I think everybody pulled through
and we did those five and after that knowing at the beginning, we were doubting
ourselves and then to do that, that was real cool. I think we were hyped about
getting to practice, but we're not a team that just shows how excited we are ... I
mean that kinda like, things like that, we was like dang, we made it we can do
anything with that cause those five gassers, those gassers will kill you. So that was
kinda, confidence was a really good thing and everybody was picking each other up
so if you were down, you were going to get up, you know. So that's cool too.
Many players used the preseason success as a source for high expectations in the
regular season. For instance, some members discussed the team achievement as a method
of comparing themselves against upcoming opponents. Player B described the team's
successful completion of wind sprints in relation to potential future team performance.
We'll be in good shape compared to some of our other teams because we were
working so hard and during preseason we gave it all we had, wanting that it could
only get better. It can't get worse I don't think. Cause you've worked so hard,
now all of a sudden you're going to be out of shape in two days? No. So working
that hard will pay off in the end because we'll be able to go harder, longer then
maybe some other teams.
Modeling(+). In addition to observing physical benefits during the pre-season
conditioning, players cited the dialogue between team members during these practice
sessions as positively influencing efficacy beliefs. The initial encouragement of one
teammate would transfer to other team members, thus contributing to a positive team
performance. Player H believed this phenomenon was noticed by all members as
everyone shared in the emotional experience.
Once one person starts to talk it up and then cheers and then everybody else starts
jumping in then we all start getting motivated, saying we can do this, we can do
this. We just get confidence in ourselves and we just pull through it together as a
team, not like by one person. Everybody starts jumping and cheering and pushing
each other along.
In addition, members described the influence team captains' modeling practices
had on preseason conditioning performance. Especially for those players who were new
to the program and its expectations, the vocal support of veteran players during the
strenuous conditioning practices was appreciated. For Player C, the ability of a captain to
motivate the remaining players inevitably contributed to the team's cardiovascular
Team confidence, um ... maybe at the beginning when we were doing
conditioning. Yeah, I really think in the beginning when we were doing
conditioning. We were all out of shape and we just didn't think we could do it, but
[Player K] would say something like, "Come on girls, we can do it" and then
everyone else would start doing it...And so, I think at the beginning we were all
together and just trying our best to get in shape, to push each other and get in shape
Positive leadership influence(+). Nine raw data themes emerged from preseason
interviews involving the role of positive leadership on team efficacy beliefs. Those
members holding influential power within the team (e.g., coaches, captains) appeared to
sway the beliefs of the team as a whole. Preseason player interviews cited the hiring of a
first-year collegiate coach as a significant influence on efficacy beliefs. Specifically,
returning players noted the difference between the management of the previous year's
team and how the present team was organized: "I think it was positive because the coach
before us couldn't get the job done and try new things." Many players cited the coach's
encouraging attitude as contributing to the optimistic atmosphere surrounding the
program. For instance, one member felt the program benefited from the new coach and
credited the attitude of the new coaches as the main reason: "the coaching style and the
coaching staff this year will be better 'cause it brings positive attitude to the whole team."
Furthermore, the coaching style, especially in regards to the head coach's ability to relate
to team members, appeared, early in the season, to positively influence efficacy beliefs.
In particular, the coach's previous experience as a collegiate player, as well as her
understanding of a "woman's point of view" contributed to the positive judgments
adopted by team members. Further analysis defined the category of positive leadership
influence into the first-order themes of (a) positive attitude and (b) positive coaching
Positive attitude(+). Specific to the preseason, players perceived the coach's
encouraging language and supportive actions as helping to create a positive outlook
surrounding the team. Most notably, veteran players familiar with the previous season's
coach expressed excitement with the coaching change. As Player K attests, the ability of
the new coach to effectively interact with players contributed to their willingness to seek
her for meaningful relationships.
... when you go in the coach's office last year was more like you go in the coach's
office to a person that already had her mind made up and no matter what you said it
was going to be that way. So it was almost like you're talking to a brick wall with
rules, this is how it's gonna be done. You can tell me whatever you want but I'm
not gonna respond. I'll take it in but this is how it's gonna be regardless. I feel like
I can go in the coach's office, she may not agree, she may not say yeah you're right
or whatever, but at least it sunk in you know. And she's taking it into consideration
whatever you said. She may not agree or change anything but at least she gave it a
chance before she just shut the door in your face. So it's better than going in and
opening up you know. I'm not a person that opens up to anyone really a lot. So, just
the type of person she is makes it easier for you to go in there and open up and tell
In comparison to previous coach/player relationships, some members of the team
appreciated a "woman's point of view" as opposed to those stereotypical of being male.
Specifically, the following community college transfer (Player D) discussed her
impressions of the new coach in relation to her previous community college male
... and then I talked to Coach Barnes and she seemed like a more understanding
coach and I thought hey, maybe a woman coach would be better because I've had
male coaches my whole life and they can't relate to a female like a female can
relate to a female.
New team members were made aware of the positive differences in the program,
mainly from conversations with veteran players. Four current players were present for the
former season and relayed many of these experiences to the freshman entering the
program. Player F echoed the sentiments expressed by many team members as she
perceived the coaching change as positive, and thus a source for increased efficacy
She's already like completely turned everything around, like completely different
than last year. Like way more organized, way more structure, she's gonna turn it
around. She's gonna turn the program around I think.
Coaching style(+). Players also cited the teaching style of the first-year coach as a
positive influence, specifically citing previous playing experience and coaching ability as
factors that contributed to these beliefs. For players familiar with last season's team, the
new coach's ability to relate her past playing experiences to the present situation proved
invaluable. Players perceived the previous coach as lacking this expertise. For instance,
the new coach purchased new clothing for the team (e.g., socks, shorts, sports bras) in
addition to the mandated team jerseys and shorts. The coach's previous playing
experiences informed her of the need for extra gear. Furthermore, as Player D explained,
the desire of the new coach to return to the basketball environment in a coaching capacity
contributed to her positive beliefs about the season.
Coach Barnes to me is ... the only thing I like about her is that she wants to be the
best, like she has the same aspect to me as that you can't ever be the best, you
know. Like you can keep working on it, but you can never be the best, you can
never be perfect but it's all about all the things you do to get to that point. Which
you know it's never gonna get there, but still, you still try. So like, just knowing
that she's played basketball and she's played for a good team and she played good,
you know. That's in the past but still, for her to come back and want to give back
to other female basketball players who want to be something.
The influence of the new coach emerged in areas outside of the basketball
environment. Because of her strong educational background as a former elementary
school teacher, player academics were considered a main focal point. Consequently,
players were subject to frequent study halls and GPA requirements. Although some
players voiced initial disproval over these mandated activities, Player E felt these
requirements were beneficial to their student existence.
I think the coaches are actually doing a good job because I like the study halls and
stuff because I think if we didn't have those, and having us write down homework
and stuff, then we wouldn't do it. So I like that.
Christmas/semester break. The general dimension of Christmas/semester break
consisted of six raw data themes described by team members as hurting team efficacy
beliefs. Overall, efficacy beliefs were maintained throughout the preseason, remained
relatively stable throughout the pre-conference game season, and then decreased upon
returning from the 10-day Christmas break.
Member loss(-). Players perceived the five-player loss accrued during this time
period as impairing efficacy beliefs. Those members returning from the Christmas break
unexpectedly found several players had left or been removed from the team. Several of
these former members played pivotal roles within the team during the pre-conference
season (e.g., starting roles, played significant minutes). In addition to the loss of
teammates in the sport environment, the circumstances also created change within the
living environment. For instance, after the Christmas break one former member
continued to retain personal belongings at the apartment residence, yet rarely participated
in roommate activities. Within the basketball setting, member loss resulted in fewer
practice and game participants. This loss was perceived by players as detrimental to the
team. For instance, Player E described the decreased team efficacy beliefs throughout the
season in relation to the loss of important team members.
Everybody's morale went down big time cause we were like 'oh my gosh', we
started off with 15 players and we're down ... every week we were losing
somebody and by the end, we're going to end up with five players ... We're not
going to have any players and how are we going to work with this many players?
And Coach didn't play everybody and they just weren't working hard at all and that
hurt the team a lot, losing players.
Those members initially providing minimal game contribution found their roles
changing due to the aforementioned member loss. Some players interpreted this situation
as a positive (e.g, more playing time), yet also recognized the larger impact the
departures had on the team as a whole as further expressed by Player A.
But I think our bench was pretty strong, like we had a lot of people on the bench
who could give them a rest. I think that worked out pretty good until the end of the
season when people started dropping, it was a lot harder ... Probably on paper you
could tell it hurt the team because our record went down a lot more. We only won
one game the rest of the season and there was a good 3 or 4 people that were
playing a lot of minutes that we lost and maybe not everyone played in the
beginning that didn't have the experience in the beginning and they didn't get the
job done there as well in the beginning of the season.
Players who watched from the sidelines due to injury or academic ineligibility
were also aware of the impact member loss had on team efficacy beliefs. For instance,
Player F suffered a season-ending knee injury during the last game prior to Christmas
break. As an observant from the sidelines, her interpretations of decreasing team efficacy
matched the thoughts of those members still involved in the playing environment.
... when we beat JBCJ. That's when team confidence was pretty high because it
wasn't before Christmas. It was low before Christmas because we were losing a lot
to teams we should have been beating. And then at the end, when we came back
from Christmas it wasn't that good because I was out, Susie was ineligible and we
had some people quit.
Minimal exercise requirements(-). In addition to loss of team members, the
Christmas break proved detrimental to players returning for the remainder of the season.
Many members used this time away from the team as an excuse to alter daily school and
exercise routines. For instance, Player G described the break as an opportunity to not
exercise and instead engage in unhealthy eating habits: "Everybody went home, got fat
and got out of shape, came back and did we even win any games after Christmas? ... It
went downhill from there."
Some players claimed that an "I don't care attitude developed after the Christmas
break and this mood appeared to linger for the remainder of the season. Specifically,
Player K cited the indifferent attitude of another teammate and how it resonated
throughout the remaining players and ensuing team performances.
But then we had break and came back and we thought we had our heads together
but people would talk. "I just want to get this over with", you know. And a bad
apple can spoil the whole bunch. Slowly but surely, it wore out everybody else.
There was this nonchalant feeling like, "I don't care if we win or lose, let's just get
it over with."
Team performance. Sixteen raw data themes emerged from postseason interviews
describing the influence of the team's performance record in determining efficacy beliefs.
The majority of responses credited the win/loss record for changes in team beliefs.
In addition, members interpreted player interactions between one another, coaches, and
the relaxing of effective modeling practices as negative influences. These observations
were evident in both the practice and game playing environments.
Wins/losses(-). All team members cited efficacy as a fluctuating phenomenon,
largely dependent upon the team's win/loss record. The following testimonial by Player
A illustrated the beliefs expressed by many players that concerned the role of the win/loss
I think pretty much in the beginning half of the season it was looking kinda rough
and everyone started to get down and then we came back from Christmas and we
were missing key people and that kinda brought people down. Like we came back
and won our first conference game and that brought everyone up again but after we
started losing a couple more everyone just started going down. They didn't think
we were going to do this I guess.
Player K cited the previously mentioned "I don't care" attitude that developed
within the team as a consequence of the win/loss record. She felt that the effort and talent
on the team were present but the losses continued. These components appeared to
substantiate the fluctuating beliefs many members noted developing within the team.
We weren't winning as many games as we thought we should in the beginning and
it kinda bottomed out a little bit but then it bottomed down and then eventually got
back up. Like in the middle of the season we started winning a few games and
kinda got our confidence back. But then conference came and we started off
horrible with our first game but then we won our second game and we thought we
were pretty much going to get it together because we basically did everything we
should. So we deserved to win but then it happened again. We kinda like drifted off
and everybody was like, oh well and accepted defeat. So it was a big rollercoaster
the whole time.
While the majority of team members believed team confidence varied throughout
the season, some players stated the experience occurred only in the preseason and then
dropped, never to return to previous form. The losses also contributed to conflict within
the team, based largely on where the blame for losing should be placed. Player E
specifically cited the team conflict as a significant contributor to team performance.
I am pretty disappointed because we started off really excited, we were playing as a
team, and I don't know, we started losing and it got bad. And everyone was
blaming everybody else. There was fighting and arguing. I think because we kept
that up instead of coming together, then we lost the rest of our games.
For Player G, the experience of playing basketball at the collegiate level was not
congruent with personal expectations for college athletics. After a momentary exit from
the team at Christmas, she formally left the team at the season's conclusion. She
specifically cited the lack of wins as reason for her departure.
I don't remember the wins feelings. I remember the SVCJ win, our last win, when I
hit the lay-up. And that felt great because it was a conference game ... we made
history. I don't remember the last time (we) won a conference game. So I think
that's why it was so big that we won that game. But after losing, I don't think it
really bothered anyone ... it bothered people inside a little bit but it was just easy
to let go ... It probably just got that way, I don't think it was that way all along.
My plan wasn't to come here and lose. I've never been on a losing team until I
came here ... (winning) would have made it a lot more fun. Who knows? If I were
on a winning team, maybe I would have been doing a lot better, I don't know.
Modeling(-). Postseason interviews revealed players perceived the modeling
practices, specific to those members with influential power within the team, as a negative
influence on team performance. Although this theme initially emerged as a positive
influence, the relaxing of these duties was apparent to players and coaches alike. These
components appeared to emerge in a cyclical fashion where observations of this
maladaptive behavior in both practice and game arenas would influence subsequent team
performance. Results of these performances in turn would determine the actions and
emotions expressed by team members. Because the majority of game performances
resulted in negative outcomes, subsequent player attitudes were also negative as
discussed by Player G.
We talked about the game after the game sometimes. But most of the time, like
me, I would talk about it for like 5 minutes then it would be over with. I don't like
the whole grudges thing with wins and losses .. some people came in with bad
attitudes at practice after a game. I mean, we're females, every female has a bad
attitude now and then. It's just the way it goes.
The unsuccessful team performances resulted in perceptions that some team
members were playing selfishly. Player A described these events occurring in a domino
effect where the futile on court behavior of one member would cause similar attempts by
others on the team. These acts resulted in a singular, instead of a collective approach, to
I think a lot of people tried to do it on their own or when we got down enough, one
person would just start taking the ball, the next person's gonna get mad cause they
never got the ball. Then everybody's like, well I'm just gonna take it and then as a
team, we never worked together. We just tried to be all individuals.
Practice(-). Although team performance within the competitive arena was
repeatedly mentioned as a strong influence on team efficacy, the events that occurred
during practice appeared to also affect member beliefs. The monotony of practice drills,
in combination with perceptions of minimal effort, was perceived to influence subsequent
team performance. For those members unable to contribute in game situations (e.g.,
academic ineligibility), practice sessions were their only chance to actively participate in
team activity. Player D described the team's attitude and its effect on subsequent game
I mean, what you do in practice, it shows in the game. So the lack of interest
showed in practice showed in the game of how they didn't want to listen and it just
rubbed off into the game. So that's why I think we lost a lot of our games 'cause
they didn't want to listen to what the coach had to say.
The relaxed effort in practice was evident to team members, but also to the
coaching staff. The coaches' attempts to stimulate team spirit were apparently
unsuccessful. Because the team was reduced to a minimal number of eligible players at
the end of the season, many members understood their playing roles would not be
reduced despite personal decreases in effort. Player E illustrated this point in describing
the coach's futile attempt to arouse members' efforts during practice:
... every week we were losing somebody and by the end, we're going to end up
with five players. And we kind of took that as a reason not to work hard. I think
that's why we stopped working hard. I mean there were practices when we didn't
even work hard. I remember the practice when Coach kicked us out of the gym.
That was kind of funny. People just didn't want to work hard anymore.
Previous experience(-). The amount of playing experience of team members
varied according to freshman/sophomore eligibility status. With the addition of one
transfer player, five sophomores had previous community college competition
experience. The remaining six players were not familiar with the league's playing
environment. Upon reflection, veteran players admitted that as the year progressed, the
disappointing experiences of the previous season negatively impacted efficacy beliefs.
With initial conference losses, players referenced back to the previous season's losing
record as a source for present beliefs about the team's playing performance. As Player E
attests, the culmination of numerous losses resulted in a decrease in team efficacy.
Cause we were just starting and we knew we were really good and we were really
excited to start the year and everything. Once we were ready to start the
conference, it went down because everybody was like, last year JBCC wasn't that
good in the conference and this year's going to be really hard. So they were like I
don't know about the conference, especially after we lost to East Central. They
were like, I don't know about the conference. And after we beat ECJJ, our
confidence went really high. And we were really disappointed when we lost
conference games after that game when we knew we should have won.
Because newcomers had not yet experienced community college competition, their
initial efficacy beliefs were based solely on the pre-competition experience (e.g., pre-
season conditioning, pick-up games with other teammates). Many players expressed
feelings of apprehension after initial conference losses. The reactions of the freshman and
sophomores contributed to the team's inability to recover and improve as Player C stated
during a postseason interview. Instead, the losses continued throughout the conference
I think everybody believed it because we had a good team, it was like they just got
scared once we started playing competition and that's what basketball is. Cause we
could have beat so many of these teams but it's like they got scared. I don't
understand it... I will say it was at the beginning when we really wasn't playing
anybody that our confidence was high.
Observed Changes in Team Efficacy Throughout the Season
The majority of players entered the pre-season with a freshman student/playing
status. As such, many team members had yet to endure experiences characteristic of
college scholastic and athletics (i.e., living away from home, managing course
schedules, increased competition). Once players had established regular living patterns,
the Christmas break provided team members with an opportunity to break away from
these daily routines, resulting in decreased exercise levels and increased unhealthy eating
practices. This instance was observed when players submitted individual workout forms
showing amounts of physical activity engaged in over the break. Members either
admitted to no exercise participation or submitted forms showing minimal exercise was
completed. In addition, five players were removed from their regular playing statuses
during the semester break: three members permanently left the team, one member
suffered a season-ending knee injury and one member was lost due to academic
ineligibility. In the following paragraphs, the evolution of team efficacy beliefs will be
illustrated further and particular attention will be paid to how specific critical incidents
were observed to influence team efficacy.
The implementation of a new conditioning program was considered novel for both
returning lettermen and those members recently joining the team. As discussed above,
team members perceived the program as beneficial to individuals' cardiovascular and
strength capabilities. Players initially experienced uncertainty when attempting to
complete the sprinting portion of the conditioning program. Members had expressed
concern and doubt involving their ability to complete the program. In response,
individuals offered support and encouragement to one another all of which was
demonstrated in the following quote: "the conditioning was really hard and sometimes we
didn't feel like doing it. We had to motivate each other to get through it 'cause those
gassers are really, really hard." Once favorable results were attained, members noticed a
physical difference from the initial start of conditioning training and towards its
completion. The impact of the conditioning program on the following players' sense of
team efficacy was made evident during initial interviews. Player E noted the improved
physical performance coincided with increased team efficacy.
I think right now it's gotten really high now because we're starting to get in shape
and we're able to, instead of like dying, like trying to keep ourselves alive, we're
able to pick other people up and help them and we're starting to do more of that
and take care of each other and pull everybody through.
While the majority of comments noted the positive changes that occurred within
the team, players also discussed the lack of outside competition during the preseason as a
positive influence on efficacy beliefs. During this time there was no opportunity to
perform poorly and the team instead responded favorably to their one source of
performance judgment: achievement in preseason conditioning. Comments about this
phenomenon included: "team confidence first started out high because we didn't play any
games and we thought we were a good team." These observations were shared by another
player who shared the following: "preseason was something different and we were
working real hard and everybody was motivated because we all wanted to win. I think it
was real high but then the season came."
Other incidents that occurred during the season appeared to influence team efficacy
as well. As the season progressed, player turmoil surfaced within many contexts (e.g.,
living situations, on-court interactions, academic requirements). Once these distractions
mounted, players allowed their emotions to extend into other team environments. For
instance, events occurring at home between roommates would then transfer onto the
playing court between teammates. As a coach, these incidents were observed by hearing
players openly complain about food ownership issues and subsequently observing their
unwillingness to interact effectively during practice (e.g., not passing ball to isolated
teammate). Player B disclosed her beliefs about the mounting tension that occurred in
relation to the dual teammate/roommate living situation:
Everybody was getting along in the beginning. It basically came down to
everybody doing good in the beginning and then once the little side girl stuff
started happening, everything went down from there. I think if we didn't live all
together, I think it would be better. I think you could even tell this to Coach for
next year ... I don't think she needs to put them all together. Maybe you could
have them living in the same apartment complex but don't put them in the same
building that's all you see all day, everyday. Because that just gets so old after
awhile. Cause you just see them. At the beginning of the year, that's all we saw
was each other. Whether it was in here, whether it was somewhere else. It's all we
knew. It just got old after awhile and everybody couldn't take it anymore.
While some players found ways to avoid uncomfortable living situations (see
preseason section), interaction in the playing environment proved inevitable. As a way to
cope with these difficulties some players developed ways of "faking" teammate
communication in order to endure practice sessions. Although team chemistry was
presented in a deceiving manner, many members preferred this method of avoidance over
assumed punishment as further described by Player I.
We put on a gameface and acted like we liked everyone during practice so we
wouldn't have to run. And then off the court we all just, well some people just went
their own ways. They didn't want to associate with the team. And then once off the
court they really didn't associate where as on the court we kinda had to. Like we
had a job that we didn't want to do but we had to do it to get it done.
As the season progressed the players discovered that same-sex relationships
became a harder subject to ignore. Postseason interviews revealed that some players were
initially shocked by this situation but as the season progressed there was less concern.
Although intimate bonds formed between members were still evident (e.g., sitting
arrangements on bus, expressions of jealousy), those members not engaging in same-sex
relationships became more relaxed and stated its effect on the overall team experience
was minimal as described by Player F.
Because some people liked each other and some people were dating each other, that
probably wasn't good. That affected team confidence because in the beginning of
the year we were saying, "they're dating, they're doing this or whatever" so then
you're talking about your team and then when it's all out you feel kind of weird
about it. I do anyway. It makes you feel kinda funny at first but then you're like,
it's normal after you're around it so long. Just like in the middle of the season it
was like that and by the end of the season, everyone was like, oh well, forget it.
Who cares? You know. I guess it was old news, relationships like that.
Return from Holiday Break
Prior to the conference season, the team had improved dramatically relative to their
performance at the same time during the previous season. However, after the Holiday
break there were several critical incidents that appeared to greatly influence the team's
efficacy. For the majority of players, this break would be the first significant amount of
time spent away from their student/athlete/roommate environment. Upon returning from
the break, the team won their first conference season game and then ended the season
with a prolonged losing streak.
The postseason interviews exposed a significant change in efficacy beliefs as every
1st order theme emerged as a negative influence (see Appendix G). During this time
period, the modeling practices of teammates, especially by those considered to have
considerable authority within the team, appeared to unfavorably sway the team's beliefs.
Most notably, the negative actions of elected team captains significantly influenced the
beliefs of the remaining team members. In addition to game performances, the influence
of modeling practices was evident throughout daily practice sessions. Moreover, the
amount of competitive experience by team members also influenced efficacy beliefs. For
instance, the loss of team members during the Christmas break forced those with little
playing experience into unfamiliar playing roles, thus influencing personal and group
efficacy beliefs. The impact of losing team five members at Christmas was made evident
by the following quote as described by Player I:
I'm pretty sure if we had some of them now we could have probably won a few
more games I think. When Tina left, I know there was a confrontation between her
and coach and then she brought it home and started talking about it and then a lot of
people saw how coach was treating her and I guess took it upon themselves to react
to coach in a different way. We could have won more games with more subbing in,
more subbing out and we wouldn't be so tired if we had June or Lisa or Tina. They
could have taken one of our spots.
Changing Perceptions of the Coach
The most significant change involved perceptions of the first-year head coach. Pre-
season interviews (1) illustrated the coach as a positive influence impacting the team and
(2) described the coach as one of many components contributing to increased efficacy.
Postseason interviews overwhelmingly credited the disappointing season to one sole
factor: coaching incompetence. The majority of players described the evolving
personality of the coach throughout the season. The initial persona surrounding the coach
was characterized by the players as those representing an "ideal" coach. Elements of
focused effort, punctuality and respectfulness were emphasized (i.e., rewards for task
completion during practice, penalties for tardiness and disrespect). However, as the
season progressed players noticed the consistency of this coaching behavior changed.
Instead, they described major changes in attitude, coaching style and modeling (i.e.,
increased assessed punishments, disgruntled facial expressions). This transformation
resulted in damaging coach/player relationships and a decline in team efficacy. These
changes were evident in several contexts, not solely within the playing environment. For
instance, Player I described how the coach's change in classroom-monitoring behavior
resulted in the player's lowered class attendance.
Just like slacking off cause I know in the beginning coach used to be on top of
things like peeking in our class and making sure we were there and like we all went
cause we knew she was strict. But I guess she started slacking off, she didn't come
to classrooms and then they just thought she's not going to class and checking up
on us so maybe we could just sleep in and she won't know and just started slacking
In addition, the once firm beliefs in coaching ability later became the source for
criticism for team losses. Players perceived the continued decline of the program due to
the coach's unwillingness/inability to alter playing line-ups or drills. Several individuals
voiced distress over the sudden incapacity to effectively communicate with the coach.
Instead, players felt she no longer respected their opinions or believed in playing
capabilities. Player B described several domains involving perceived coaching
... I just think it needed to be changed up towards the end of the year. You can't
do the same thing for a whole year. It's not possible. No matter how good a coach
or how many books you read, you gotta go out and watch. You gotta see different
things. I think maybe if we would have changed up some things, I think we would
have been better. We were still running drills at the end of the year. You don't run
drills. I mean, maybe you do. I don't really know, I'm not a coach, I don't know.
But I'm saying there were more specific things we needed to be doing than running
drills and running all the time. I haven't seen what other big schools, big time
schools do. We didn't know anything about our opponents really, except like little
stuff. But we didn't sit down and go over specifics. In our walk-through, it would
be at 7 o clock in the morning for 15 minutes going over the same thing, over and
over. In the game, you still don't know what you're doing. I think that it benefited
us from the beginning but when at those crucial moments, nothing changed and that
definitely hurt us ... the coaching style never changed and when you're losing all
the time, something's gotta give. I think that's what got real hard is that both sides
were real stubborn .. coach's style was stubborn and the players' style was
stubborn so it was tug-of-war. Nobody was going to let the other one get in. One
day we would come in with a good attitude and coach would come in, the thing is
she would fire us up but really just pissing everybody off. And everybody's like
In summary, player efficacy beliefs changed over the course of the season based on
a number of different factors (see Appendices F-H). More specifically, the timing of
significant events appeared to influence many of these issues. For instance, the midseason
break emerged as the largest influence contrasting preseason and postseason beliefs. The
loss of important members and the minimal exercise requirements influenced the
returnees in a negative manner. The ten postseason themes were perceived as negative
influences and thus efficacy beliefs never resumed to their previous preseason high.
Critical Influences on the Evolution of Team Efficacy: A Grounded Theory
Consistent with the analytic procedures described by Charmaz (2000, 2002) and
Strauss and Corbin (1998), a grounded theory will now be presented to demonstrate how
the various sources of efficacy, and other events, influenced team interaction and the
quality of the group's experiences across the length of the playing season (See Appendix
H). This portion of the investigation explicates how the highly contextualized process of
team efficacy was linked to individual meanings attached to group experiences that
occurred throughout the course of the basketball season. The grounded theory that
follows was developed from interview responses (individual players and team format),
personal observations (including reflexive journaling), and media artifacts (game
statistics). Due to the complexities associated with group processes, the current theory
will highlight the interaction between individual meanings of the player's experiences
and collective beliefs. More specifically, the theory that follows is an attempt to delineate
how the participants in this study cognitively evaluated their individual experiences
which in turn influenced their views about the team and the quality of their experiences
as the season progressed. As shown in Appendix H and reviewed above, the most general
sources of efficacy for this team included team compatibility, leadership styles, and
perceptions of talent levels. These findings were consistent with sources of collective
efficacy theorized by Bandura, (1997) and sources of sport confidence found by Vealey
et al., (1998). Within the present study, a prevalent theme revealed how and why team
efficacy evolved and changed along with the player's interactions and levels of
motivation and satisfaction throughout the course of the season (See Box E in Appendix
H). Further examination of these influences and subsequent interactions will follow.
Previous discussion has noted the many changes in team performance beliefs as the
season progressed. Throughout the team's pre conference schedule, team efficacy beliefs
remained relatively high despite a mediocre performance record. Player efforts continued
within the practice setting (e.g., teammate encouragement, persistence in workouts) and
player satisfaction remained high (i.e., excitement over upcoming competition, increased
team cohesiveness). As a coach and researcher with this team, I observed the players'
efforts on a daily basis. However, critical incidents that occurred during and after the
Christmas break influenced subsequent player evaluations of the team's performance and
thus efficacy beliefs.
Critical Incidents and the Reevaluation Period
Upon completion of the fall semester, two weeks remained before the first
conference game. Players received a 10-day break from scholastic and academic duties
and returned home to see family/friends. During this time period, two significant
phenomena occurred. First, five players were removed from regular playing roles: one
veteran player suffered a season-ending knee injury, one freshman became academically
ineligible and three players quit or were permanently removed from the team. Second,
many of the remaining players used the time away from the basketball setting to engage
in little or no physical activity. Furthermore, members used the break to wean themselves
from diet restrictions formerly imposed during the season by the head coach.
As discussed, the players credited the abrupt removal of teammates and resulting
changes in role expectations (i.e., increased accountability, more playing time) as the
most salient influence of team efficacy across the season. This significant loss of
important team members, combined with the recent letdown in training rigor, were
critical incidents that influenced this team's efficacy (See Box B of Appendix H). From
my perspective as a coach, the sudden loss of team members strongly influenced the
practice and game environments. Fewer players resulted in fewer drill repetitions and
modifications in game strategies (i.e., less emphasis on team speed). Therefore, changes
experienced in the playing environment consequently altered the team's style of play.
As shown in Box C of Appendix H, the members engaged in a reevaluation process
where team efficacy beliefs, including goals established during the preseason, were
compared against present team performance. Discrepancies between these pre-existing
team beliefs and current team success were apparent. The impact of this realization,
combined with the players' reactions to a variety of critical events, resulted in a "who
cares?" attitude pervading the team. During this time, my concerns as a coach began to
grow. The emergence of pessimistic attitudes was frustrating to observe as I felt the
sudden decrease in persistence would inevitably impact later team performances. Players'
negative perceptions coincided with the commencement of the conference-playing season
and were present throughout the remainder of the season (e.g., team playing
Previous research has noted changes in role involvement can detract from
performance potential and is considered more pronounced within a team environment
(Brawley, Carron & Widmeyer, 1987). The present study supported these findings as
several critical incidents occurring during and after the Christmas break influenced how
players appraised their performance roles. For instance, player reaction to the loss of
members contributing significant minutes was apparent. Without the assistance of key
players, previous wins appeared to lose their meaning as the remaining members now
looked ahead to the conference schedule with pessimism. This reevaluation process
resulted in individual and collective judgments about failing to meet preseason efficacy
expectations. Mediocre pre-conference performances, the sudden loss of team members
and the development of the team's lackadaisical outlook contributed to this change in
attitude. Furthermore, the high confidence players initially placed in the team's ability to
perform, as established in the preseason, combined with the influence of the previously
mentioned critical events, resulted in negative team perceptions that persisted throughout
the remainder of the season. In other words, because the strength of initial player beliefs
was elevated to such an increased level, the impact of the critical events and reevaluation
period contributed to a dramatic decrease in efficacy. For my participants, member
evaluations were based upon comparisons between efficacy sources established in the
preseason and their consequent reassessments that occurred during the pivotal juncture of
the season (See Boxes A, B, and C of Appendix H).
Consistent with Bandura's (1977, 1986) self-efficacy theory, the direction team
efficacy beliefs follow is largely dependent upon the magnitude of preseason beliefs. For
those teams whose beliefs have little strength or are originally negative, performance
expectations are not as difficult to attain. If perceptions of team performance during the
pivotal juncture are positive, then team performance would meet or exceed their original
beliefs. However, for those teams with originally elevated efficacy beliefs, the margin of
error increases. If team performance during the pivotal juncture has failed to meet
original expectations, negative efficacy beliefs will ensue. Teams undergoing such a
realization process experience consequences for a significant amount of time after the
fact. Two situations can emerge from the aforementioned comprehension and the present
study supports one of these predictions. First, team members can perceive the team
performance to equal or surpass efficacy beliefs set in the preseason and consequently,
positive beliefs will develop or continue into the later stages of the season (Box D).
Second, team members can perceive the team performance to not meet or fall below
efficacy beliefs set in the preseason and consequently, negative beliefs will develop or
continue into the later stages of the season (Box F). The impact of these comprehensions
will be further discussed in regards to their influence upon player satisfaction and
As previously discussed (see Chapter 2), reasons for sport participation are linked
to player motivation/satisfaction within the playing environment (Kavussanu et al.,
1996). Given the motives for this team's formation (e.g, intercollegiate athletic team), the
impact of a losing season may have substantial implications for the satisfaction and
motivation of members within several contexts. The decline in efficacy beliefs resulting
from the reevaluation process subsequently influenced player attitudes/behaviors across
the following dimensions: practice sessions, cohesion, player/coach relationships and
game performance (Box E of Appendix H).
As depicted in Appendix C, athlete reevaluations had strong implications for player
satisfaction and motivation along the aforementioned contexts. During the reevaluation
process (Box C), team members assessed current efficacy beliefs about performance
capabilities against those set prior to the pivotal juncture. Because the outcome of this
stage impacted the team environment along several contexts, these appraisals influenced
team climate for the latter portion of the season and beyond (Box G). From an applied
perspective, how player reevaluations influence psychological climate and team
performance is crucial to understand (Box H). Those teams who can maintain or increase
efficacy beliefs at this critical time will influence positive team performances in the latter
portion of the season. Conversely, those teams unable to recover from pivotal juncture-
related events will continue a downward performance slide until a final season
conclusion. Discussion of these components will be described in the following sections.
Game performance outcomes (e.g., versus conference opponents) will often
determine rankings for postseason tournaments and/or the amount of success experienced
by a team for the current season. Furthermore, because the ending regular season games
and postseason tournaments may be the last played by graduating seniors or for those
permanently leaving the team, these memories may be considered the most salient. In a
sense, the season begins again with the conference tournament. Every team has a chance
to capture the coveted first prize and efficacy beliefs can strongly influence a team's
intensity and effort during this critical period. Performances during this time are more
susceptible to game upsets as a lesser-ranked team may have higher efficacy beliefs than
a supposed better team (Paskevich, 1995).
In the present study, player reflections during the pivotal juncture of the season
resulted in decreased efficacy beliefs for the remainder of the competitive season. The
culmination of a prolonged losing streak, in addition to an early exit from the conference
tournament, resulted in the ending of the team's competitive playing season. During the
second half of the season, player frustration and disappointment were observed as initial
team unity later fell to member separation and coaching blame. These expressions were
observed along several team contexts including practice sessions, game performances,
player to -player and -coach interactions. Unable to regroup and improve upon their
current status, the ideal situation for a declining team did not occur; the team was unable
to recover from the pivotal juncture and improve upon current team performance.
Upon the conclusion of competitive play, teams have a chance to regroup and begin
preparation for the following season. It has been well-versed that better players are
"made" during off-season training. Therefore, how athletes perceive the overall
experience (i.e., Did the team reach playing potential?) will often determine amounts of
effort, persistence and motivation to prepare for future competitive opportunities.
Furthermore, as previously discussed, the consequences of performance beliefs can
surface in and outside of the playing environment. Thus, player satisfaction/motivation,
as well as interactions between team members and coaches, will be impacted during the
significant break between the conclusion of one competitive year and the commencement
of another season.
Specific to this team, turmoil experienced between team members during the
competitive season eroded shortly after the conclusion of postseason play. Player
relationships resembled those common during the preseason training and period of
increased efficacy beliefs. First-year players began preparation (e.g., academic
coursework, postseason workouts, rooming decisions) for the following season as
veterans were left to contemplate future athletic/academic endeavors. For those players
choosing to continue further participation with the sport, their involvement in postseason
activities was prevalent (e.g., attendance in weightlifting and conditioning sessions).
However, those members choosing pursuits outside of sport disregarded postseason team
activities altogether (e.g., absence from postseason workouts, team meetings).
The direction of player post-juncture beliefs (e.g., negative or positive perceptions
of meeting or failing to meet preseason goals) has significant implications for various
sport settings as described along the aforementioned contexts (see Box G). Specific to
this study and other teams experiencing a letdown during a pivotal juncture in the season,
declining beliefs about performance success will result in either one of two scenarios (see
1. The season concludes with the team never achieving a positive performance after
the pivotal juncture. Within this scenario, a "bounce back" period never occurs in
which the team is able to recover and actually improve on previous performances.
Instead, competitive games continue to be played and losses continue to
accumulate; therefore players fail to see the outcome merits of their efforts (i.e.,
continued practice without experiencing a competitive match win). Eventually, the
negative experiences associated with team performance will end as the playing
season concludes with the inevitable completion of scheduled competitions and no
prospects for continued postseason play.
2. The team's season progresses and members observe positive advancements toward
performance capabilities (e.g., significant win or enhanced performance).
Therefore, the direction of fallen efficacy beliefs is reversed. Subsequent player
interactions within and outside of the sport environment will be altered, thus
impacting various athlete contexts (e.g., player satisfaction/motivation, group
cohesion). Within the performance context, teams may be able to extend playing
seasons due to exceptional play during ending regular season games or post-season
tournaments. In this scenario, elevated efficacy beliefs outlast opponents' perceived
superior playing abilities. As described above, the positive outcome of this
experience will influence members along numerous contexts (e.g, player to -player
and -coach interactions, player satisfaction/motivation, beliefs about postseason
As previously described, team members perceived the outcome of the playing
season in a negative manner as directly evidenced by the team's inability to improve
upon post-juncture team performances (i.e., season concludes with extended losing
streak). As described above, the impact of this outcome surfaced within several contexts
including interactions between players and the head coach. As an assistant coach situated
between the players and head coach, interaction differences between participants became
increasingly noticeable as less communication and maladaptive body language from both
parties was observed. In the postseason, players faulted negative coaching techniques for
the team's lackluster performance. For instance, members believed game strategies (e.g.,
questionable substitution patterns) and the handling of team incidents (i.e., player
dismissals) contributed to the accumulation of team losses. As previously addressed,
communication between both parties became less frequent as players separated
themselves from the playing environment (e.g., less visitations to gym and coach's
The primary purpose of the present study was to document the development and
maintenance of collective efficacy within a community college women's basketball team.
A second purpose was to observe changes in group behavior (e.g., team cohesion, role
related behaviors, leadership characteristics) throughout the course of the season. The
results showed the emergence of several factors that influenced efficacy experienced by
the team and its members. The participants perceived off the court exchanges, preseason
conditioning and positive leadership to strongly impact the efficacy beliefs experienced
prior to the competitive playing season. The ensuing positive outlook occurred due to the
impact of physical conditioning and positive modeling by influential members (i.e.,
coaches and team captains). Moreover, players perceived the Christmas/semester break,
team performances and negative leadership to contribute to declining efficacy beliefs
experienced during the latter portion of the season. Furthermore, a grounded theory was
developed that elucidated the interdependent relationships observed between the
described sources of efficacy and various outcomes in sport. What follows is a discussion
of the theoretical and empirical relevance of the present study and a discussion of some
applied implications from the results. Then, I will offer a discussion about study
weaknesses and shortcomings along with future research directions.
The results of the present study suggest similarities and departures from existing
research. Few studies have assessed team efficacy beliefs across the length of a playing
season. The present study strengthens the current literature with the assessment of this
phenomenon utilizing (1) a qualitative framework implementing grounded theory
techniques and (2) a longitudinal examination of the dynamic phenomenon. The present
findings substantiate existing team efficacy research with the inclusion of established
sources of efficacy and/or confidence suggested to influence group beliefs. A discussion
about the relevance of the present findings with regard to Bandura's (1997) theoretical
writings and Vealey's (2001) sport specific conceptualization of sport confidence will
now be discussed.
With regard to Bandura's theory of collective efficacy (1997), the current study
supports the influence of previous performance experiences, vicarious experiences,
verbal persuasion and perceptions of physiological states as important belief sources.
Bandura (1997) asserts that mastery experiences are the most powerful source of
efficacy beliefs because they provide the most authentic evidence of whether one can
accomplish on a task (Bandura, 1986). Therefore, perceptions of successes and failures
will then influence subsequent efficacy beliefs. As previously discussed, the initial
interview responses and efforts observed during the preseason conditioning workouts
underscored the increased efficacy beliefs described by many players concerning the
upcoming playing season. For instance, players described how successes achieved during
the preseason conditioning were believed to contribute to positive game outcomes. In
addition to forming beliefs based upon past practice performances, players often inquired
about the win/loss records of forthcoming opponents. These queries aided players in
forming judgments about the outcomes of subsequent competitions.
Conversely, the culmination of multiple game losses as the season progressed then
resulted in perceptions of performance failure. Players assumed these inadequacies
despite obvious skill improvements observed across the season. Instead, players focused
on the negative performance outcomes and thus individual player and team development
was overlooked. The lack of mastery experiences resulted in declined efficacy beliefs as
members admitted, "the confidence went down as soon as we started losing."
The inclusion of this source of efficacy occurred at two levels: (1) observations
between competitive teams and (2) observations between team members. Bandura (1986,
1997) states the emergence of vicarious experience develops within self-efficacy theory
and collective efficacy theory, respectively. Because the conference season demanded the
playing of two regular season games per opponent, the players evaluated upcoming
opponents between the first and second playing competitions. These time lapses allowed
for comparisons between opposing teams, opposing players, styles of play and coaching
techniques. As a second competition approached, players recalled various people and/or
events involved from the initial competition. Beliefs concerning the outcomes of
approaching competitions were based upon these reflections.
In addition, members used vicarious observations within the team to create beliefs
about potential performance success. As previously discussed, newcomers would observe
veterans throughout the year as a method of increasing knowledge of the game (watching
more experienced players), to learn information specific to team play (offensive and
defensive strategies) and to create beliefs about personal playing capabilities (how others
perform will inform self of own ability). Furthermore, veterans cited the exceptional skill
level of the freshman in addition to their ability to outlast the difficult preseason training
as contributing to the positive beliefs established prior to the competitive season.
Two themes emerged from the conceptual framework that emphasized the
relevance of verbal persuasion within the team's efficacy experiences. In the pre-season,
players perceived persuasion from several sources to positively influence team beliefs.
Most notably, positive comments from the head coach swayed beliefs/actions involving
player effort, satisfaction and team cohesion. In accordance with Bandura's efficacy
theory, factors such as the credibility, prestige and trustworthiness of the persuader
influence the effects of the information given (1986). It can be assumed players perceived
the head coach as holding substantial authority within the team and thus valued her
opinion concerning performance potential. In a similar fashion, players utilized the team
captains as credible sources for future performance success. Initially, the language and
actions of these select individuals provided positive support for the team's increased
efficacy beliefs. However, as the season progressed and perceptions of coaching/captain
responsibilities changed (e.g., observations of negative behavior), existing efficacy
beliefs were altered. For instance, players cited captains' lack of effort during practice
and the coach's negative outlook concerning impending game outcomes to transform the
existing increased efficacy beliefs.
Bandura's theoretical discussions and previous research (Feltz & Lirgg, 2001;
Taylor et al., 1985) showed that interpretations of physiological states can be a strong
indicator of perseverance and activity one will endure when subject to physical
discomfort. During the season, perceptions of physiological states related to conditioning
levels emerged on two occasions. Team performance during the pre-season conditioning
workouts was perceived to positively influence efficacy beliefs. Many members
described the team's ability to reach or surpass effort expectations as the primary motive
for the positive outlook concerning the upcoming season. Conversely, the Christmas
Break resulted in decreased fitness levels that contributed to negative perceptions of the
team's ability to successfully compete.
In addition to Bandura's recommendations (1986), Watson and Chemers (1998)
included leadership effectiveness as a significant source for group efficacy. These
members (i.e., team captains, coaches) will largely impact the team through various
modeling practices. Positively viewed modeling can improve the uncertainties expressed
by insecure members while negative modeling can depress the efforts and encouraging
actions of the team (Feltz & Lirgg, 2001). Watson and Chemers (1998) found leader
evaluation to be positively related to collective efficacy, especially for those teams that
experience little success in the previous season. In previously unsuccessful teams, players
who believed they had effective leaders were more confident in their teams. As pre- and
postseason interviews revealed, both the elected team captains and newly hired head
coach existed as dominant efficacy sources within the team. For instance, the participants
described the coaching and captain leadership during the preseason as positively
influencing the team's efforts. These components emerged through the verbal remarks
and observed determined actions of both parties.
Conversely, during the postseason, the participants negatively described the
coaching methods utilized. While the captains' actions were also perceived negatively,
the players predominantly described negative coaching as a prevalent source for the
declining efficacy beliefs. Specifically, the players noted the inconsistencies in verbal
statements and coaching actions as well as questionable coaching choices (i.e.,
substitution patterns, practice drills, style of play) as contributing to the aforementioned
changes. Furthermore, several players described perceptions of coaching incompetence as
a principal motive for the team's overall losing record experienced throughout the season
(e.g., unwilling to alter playing style despite continued losses).
The present study furthers existent research with the inclusion of a pivotal season
juncture in which existing efficacy beliefs are reassessed. The outcome of this
reassessment process influenced subsequent beliefs for the remainder of the season and
beyond (e.g., postseason training, perceptions of following year). Thus, how members
viewed the impact of the pivotal juncture influenced group perceptions along a multitude
of contexts that included player satisfaction/motivation in the competitive environment
and interactions between coaches and teammates (see Chapter 4). For example, a
negative outlook lead to decreased diligence in the playing environment as well as less
interaction between group members.
Related Dimensions of Group Efficacy Construct
Collective task efficacy (Mischel & Northcraft, 1997) involves members' beliefs of
the group's knowledge related to the task, skill and abilities to perform a specific task in a
successful manner. Throughout the season, this element remained relatively stable as the
team continued to set team goals prior to each contest despite numerous losses. The
captains announced these objectives (i.e., maximum number of team turnovers, maintain
specific field goal percentage/number of rebounds for game) in the locker room
preceding competitions. Members did not modify their beliefs regardless of perceptions
of various uncontrollable and controllable factors influencing game outcomes (i.e., level
of opponent, efforts exerted). Despite the observed fluctuations in performance, the
players continued to set optimistic goals before each contest.
Furthermore, previous research has shown that effective interactions facilitate a
team's collective interdependence or team members' beliefs about the level of
knowledge, skill and ability a group has to perform a specific task (Mischel & Northcraft,
1997). Within the present study the collective interdependence phenomenon fluctuated
throughout the season based largely on various off-court interactions between team
members. For instance, the status of roommate and intimate relationships between
members influenced the exchanges of these players on the court. Specifically, players
cited arguments occurring between these parties as negatively impacting team interaction
in practice and games (i.e., selfish play, not passing ball to specific teammates).
Group Efficacy Research
Although few studies have examined group efficacy within the sport setting,
associations between existing research and the current project are evident. Specifically,
the previously discussed hockey study by Feltz & Lirgg (1998) examined efficacy across
a season utilizing data ascertained from player questionnaires. In accordance with this
study's findings it was found here that a pivotal juncture and reevaluation process during
the season had a pronounced impact on subsequent efficacy beliefs. The outcome of the
reassessment process during Christmas break influenced player beliefs for the remainder
of the season and beyond (e.g., postseason training, perceptions of following year). Thus,
how members viewed the impact of the pivotal juncture was shown to influence group
member perceptions along a multitude of contexts including player satisfaction and
motivation in the competitive environment and interactions between coaches and
teammates (see Chapter 4). The players perceived team member loss as negatively
impacting the team due to the reduced number of eligible players and the loss of
significant game contributors (i.e., points scored, leadership roles). Furthermore,
additional "distractions" involving various roommate and intimate relationships issues
appeared to impact the team's efforts on the court throughout the season. As previously
discussed, players became selective with ball-passing practices as some members chose
to ignore those individuals perceived to negatively impact member interactions (i.e.,
roommate or intimate partnerships).
Previous collective efficacy research has cited beginning-of-season high collective
efficacy as a negative predictor of end-of-season performance (Watson & Chemers,
1998). In a study addressing the individual and collective beliefs of high school
basketball players, efficacy measures taken before the season and before postseason play
showed players who had higher optimism scores also had higher collective efficacy
beliefs. By the end of the season, this relationship was not apparent. The experiences
related to this team support these findings as increased efficacy beliefs in the preseason
later fell to negative beliefs about possible performance success. Thus, a negative
relationship existed between member beliefs experienced in the preseason and those
experienced after the pivotal Holiday break.
An additional finding of the aforementioned study showed leadership evaluation
was positively related to collective efficacy for teams unsuccessful in the previous season
(Watson & Chemers, 1998). Thus, players of previous losing teams who believed they
had effective leaders were more confident in their teams (Feltz & Lirgg, 2001). Within
the present study, members cited the positive leadership of the new coach as contributing
to the elevated efficacy beliefs experienced during the preseason. Members believed the
actions of the newly hired head coach would reverse a lackluster performance record
from the previous season. However, upon postseason reflection, players cited the actions
of the coach as negatively influencing the team's playing experience and poor
Lastly, the relationship between early and late season collective efficacy beliefs has
been observed with the aforementioned study of American football offensive
performances and team efficacy beliefs (Myers et al., 2003). In their study, questionnaires
completed prior to competition throughout a playing season noted that early and late
season collective efficacy beliefs appeared more homogeneous than midseason beliefs.
As previously described, player attitudes during postseason training resembled those
observed during preseason training. The negative attitudes existing throughout the latter
portion of the season were replaced with positive beliefs about upcoming competition
(e.g., postseason training, following season games).
As previously discussed (Chapter 2), collective efficacy and other forms of group
processes are believed to share similar components. Specifically, high levels of collective
efficacy and group cohesion are associated with (1) a strong commitment to common
desires and (2) a persistent belief in the group's abilities to achieve important goal
(Mullen & Copper, 1994). Bandura (1986, 1997) contends that collective efficacy acts as
a mediator between cohesion and performance. The examination of perceived collective
efficacy and cohesion have demonstrated positive relationships over the course of a
successful playing season (Paskevich, 1995). Utilizing a collective efficacy measure
designed for this study, Paskevich found that collective efficacy mediated the relationship
between task-oriented cohesion (e.g, attaining field goal percentage for game) and team
performance at early season but not later season. Specific to the present study, members
repeatedly described the successes achieved during the conditioning program as
contributing to the unity experienced by the team as a whole. Perceptions of cohesion
remained relatively positive until encountering the fluctuations associated with negative
game outcomes and the unexpected player losses during Christmas break.
Furthermore, the inclusion of the sport confidence model and its transference to
Bandura's efficacy theories (1986, 1997) deserve further consideration. For instance,
Vealey and colleagues (1996, 1998, 2001) focused on the role of the kinds of situations
that enhance or decrease confidence in athletes (Vealey, 2001). Of the nine sources
embedded within the Sport Confidence Model, seven emerged throughout the present
study. These sources included mastery experiences, demonstration of ability,
physical/mental preparation, social support, environmental comfort, coaching leadership
and situational favorableness. Specifically, the model's inclusion of mastery experiences
and demonstration of ability have considerable similarity to Bandura's efficacy source of
previous performance accomplishments (Vealey, 2001). For example, during the
conference season players referred to previous game performance outcomes as a source
of beliefs about subsequent competitions.
In addition, the role of physical/mental preparation involves feeling physically and
mentally prepared with an optimal focus on performance and can be likened to Bandura's
efficacy source of physiological arousal (Vealey, 2001). As the present study and
previous research attested (Gould, Hodge, Peterson and Giannini; 1989; Vealey et al.
1998), physical conditioning was considered a significant source for developing self-
confidence in athletes. Member perceptions of the locker room environment as well as
knowledge of the opposing team before competition appeared to impact player beliefs
about possible performance success.
The sources involving social support and environmental comfort emerged across
various off the court events. Specifically, the intimate relations that occurred between
team members impacted both participants and non-participants' level of comfort with the
playing environment. Observable on the court interactions were influenced by the
emotions experienced between team members, specifically involving various ball-passing
practices (see Chapter 4). Member perceptions of social support (e.g., coaches, family
and teammates) were also impacted by experiences occurring outside of the sport
environment. For instance, various living situations (e.g., roommate concerns) as well as
the role of the coach's involvement impacted player confidence levels.
Furthermore, coaching leadership emerged as a dominant source within this team
experience. As represented in Appendices F and G team efficacy beliefs coincided with
perceptions of leadership influences. For instance, increased efficacy beliefs in the
preseason were associated with positive beliefs about coaching capabilities. Player beliefs
were reversed in the latter portion of the season as declined efficacy beliefs coincided
with decreased confidence levels in coaching competence.
Lastly, situational favorableness, or "feeling that the breaks of the situation are in
one's favor" (Vealey, 2001; p.553) emerged as a source specific to the incidents
occurring during the pivotal juncture in the season. Players perceived player loss as an
uncontrollable factor that negatively impacted team interactions and subsequent
competitive performances. The resulting "who cares?" attitude (see Chapter 4) lasted the
duration of the season and never returned to its once positive state.
Numerous future recommendations have emerged across the existing collective
efficacy research. Most notably, authors have described the need for (1) season-long
studies with (2) intact sports teams assessing (3) the complex interactive nature of
individual and group processes (Feltz, 1992, 1994; Widmeyer et al., 1993). The present
study addressed these three proposals as various information sources (i.e., player
interviews, personal observations) emerged throughout a lengthy playing season with a
women's community college basketball team. Individual and group interviews occurred
in order to detail the multifaceted relationships associated with the construct. In addition,
the primary researcher maintained a participant/observer role as a volunteer assistant
coach for this team. Her main roles as academic advisor and practice drill implementer,
including her previous personal experiences with the sport (see Chapter 1) facilitated the
development of a trusting environment for player disclosure. These strengths will now be
discussed in further detail.
The primary researcher joined the staff in August of 2002 and continued
participation with the team for the following ten-month period. Throughout this time
period, the researcher maintained an active role in the coordination of academic
advisement, practice drills and game travel for the aforementioned team and its members.
This experience allowed for the development of coach to -player and -to coach
relationships. In addition, this prolonged involvement allowed for the development of
trust and rapport between the researcher and the participants; an important consideration
in qualitative inquiry (Fontana & Frey, 2000).
The present study addressed an experience involving both individual and collective
beliefs concerning a group phenomenon; therefore interview questions entailing team
efficacy beliefs were addressed at the individual and group level. As part of grounded
theory procedures (Charmaz, 1990), researchers take substantive analysis from one area
and conduct theoretical sampling in another. For instance, player interviews questioned
individual views about team efficacy in addition to group beliefs about the team specific
to the playing environment (e.g, potential performance success, coach's leadership).
Subsequent team interviews inquired about the collective thoughts concerning efficacy
for potential performance success. By including both individual and group influences, the
imminent interaction between individual player thoughts and the collective beliefs of the
team was addressed.
The present study also has some weaknesses. First, group interviews were
dominated by those members most involved in verbal/modeling practices within the
playing environment (e.g, appointed captains, starters). Therefore, their opinions
predicted group beliefs despite possible differing views by those members with less
power. As a result, individual interviews were conducted to gain the views of these
lesser-voiced members due to increased comfort involving discussions about the team.
Because player and team responses fluctuated according to the team's playing
performance throughout the season (e.g., win/loss record), the relationship between
preseason and postseason efficacy beliefs is not clearly defined. Player beliefs were
predominantly affected by game outcomes, therefore accounting for the drastic change in
preseason and postseason efficacy beliefs. Previous research has noted the influence of
performance outcomes in determining beliefs about team success (Licacz & Partington,
1996; Paskevich, 1995; Watson & Chemers, 1998).
Limitations associated with the present study include (1) assumptions based upon
the experience of one team and (2) the development of possible biases associated with the
primary researcher's role within the team. In addition, player skepticism associated with
confidentiality issues (i.e., playing time influenced by interview responses, teammate
relationships harmed by discussing various interactions/incidents) may have influenced
impending interview responses. These weaknesses will now be discussed in further
Due to the exploratory nature of this project, the generalizability of the study's
findings to other sport settings with varying characteristics (e.g, individual sports,
decreased interdependency, male-specific teams) is debatable. Due to minimal research
associated with group efficacy, the development of additional belief sources and possible
interactions with other group processes appears to be most beneficial in understanding the
construct and related phenomenon. The development of a grounded theory forms the
framework for further discovery involving various influences and/or sources contributing
to the construct's applicability within the athletic setting. In addition, because this study
focused on a women's team that had a losing season, future researchers may wish to
study how winning or more successful teams respond throughout a playing season.
Furthermore, future research should also focus on male athletes.
The social constructivist stance adopted by the primary researcher mandates the
understanding of the season's experience through the observations/experiences of the
researcher within this team. By starting with data from the lived experience of the
research participants, the researcher can attend to how they construct their worlds. That
lived experience shapes the researcher's approach to data collection and analysis
(Charmaz, 1990). Future researchers attempting to replicate this study will be fallible to
differing circumstances along several contexts (e.g., social interactions team members,
playing style among members, talent of outside competition). These situations will
account for varying perceptions among athletes in a sport-specific setting.
Finally, my own biases as a researcher need to be addressed. Due to the
exploratory nature of the project, the researcher assumed an assistant coaching position
within the team. This position commenced during the team's preseason training and
ended with the conclusion of the spring semester. During this time, the researcher
developed close bonds with the players and coaches in order to gain a complete
understanding of the efficacy phenomenon and influencing factors. The researcher's
previous experiences as a player and instructor, in addition to situations developing
throughout the year, helped to formulate her perceptions of efficacy occurring within the
team. In an effort to address these biases, I used an outside research group familiar with
the adopted methodology to inform me of possible biases I may have experienced.
However, the actual experience is one only familiar to a participant-observer. As noted
by qualitative researchers, such a constructionist view assumes an emergent reality
fundamentally shaped by social interaction (Berger & Luckman, 1966; Charmaz,, 1990).
Therefore, a constructionist approach offers "an open-ended and flexible means of
studying both fluid interactive processes [individual and group efficacy beliefs] and more
stable social structures [sports team]" (Charmaz, 1990; p. 1162). Furthermore, the players
may have perceived the researcher's dual role of coach and confidante as a possible
hindrance to subsequent performance decisions (player beliefs will influence playing
minutes). Thus, some members may have been less inclined to disclose negative team
revelations due to concerns about a decreased playing status within the team. Future
research should address methods of increasing player disclosure concerning emotionally-
bound influences of group sport.
The present study has important implications for practitioners. Based on the
findings of the current study, several avenues for applied discussion can emerge.
Specifically for coaches, the study gives insight into the various factors influencing the
development of efficacy within a team and the multiple elements that may hinder its
continuance. By understanding the underlying factors influencing a team's efficacy
beliefs, coaches may facilitate the sport context to create a positive performance
experience. The culmination of these accomplishments can aide coaches in fielding
potentially successful teams and also facilitates extended coaching careers.
First, coaches can model an optimistic outlook which might contribute to overall
positive team experiences; whereas negative beliefs may depress confidence in team
well-being (Paskevich et. al, 2001). For instance, elevated efficacy beliefs can impact
players' motivations to place group aspirations ahead of personal glory. The present
study offered the following suggestions for the maintenance of wellness within a team:
separate existences in and outside of the playing environment (e.g, living arrangements,
sexual relationships), consistency between coach's expectations and player performance,
and continued engagement in physical activity despite training breaks in season
As previously discussed, the last component (otherwise referred to as the pivotal
juncture) contributed greatly to the reversal of previously elevated efficacy beliefs. The
ability of teams to recover from the critical point in the season will influence play during
the latter portion of the season and beyond. In addition, these elevated beliefs may
contribute to a team's ability to withstand the effects of unanticipated events or turmoil
occurring along various sport situations (player interactions, lengthy playing seasons).
The avoidance of these events may inevitably create an environment suitable for the
development and perpetuation of elevated efficacy beliefs. One proposed method
involves teams addressing both positive and negative outcome situations that could
develop over the course of a season (e.g., "what if" scenarios) in order to increase
preparation for unexpected events occurring in the performance environment.
For those teams experiencing the impact of a losing season both in and outside of
the sport setting (e.g., member interaction, player satisfaction/motivation), suggestions
can be made for how to halt or improve upon a team's decreased efficacy beliefs.
Specifically, team members' beliefs may improve upon a reassessment of preseason
performance goals. For example, a team may find the winning of a conference
championship no longer statistically viable due to an accumulation of game losses. Thus,
teams can reevaluate and adjust their goals in a more realistic manner to account for their
current performance situation. For instance, suggestions include establishing goals that
are based upon the process leading to performance as opposed to the outcome itself.
Supporting evidence has noted that procedural goals are considered more flexible and
controllable than those focusing on performance outcomes (Burton, Naylor and Holliday,
2001). Teams may then experience more autonomy within the playing environment
which has been associated with positive affective experiences (McAuley & Tammen,
1989). The impact of these affective states will then contribute to existing team
environments (e.g., living situations, practice sessions).
The situations experienced by this team during the 2002-2003 playing season have
strong implications for team sports and additional athletic contexts. The preceding
grounded theory lays a framework for teams experiencing a letdown in efficacy beliefs
during a pivotal juncture in the season. As suggested by Bandura (1986, 1990),
experiences with failures and setbacks are necessary to develop a robust sense of
efficacy. These findings suggest scenarios for how other sport circumstances may
develop. Using this structure, coaches may be able to prevent or discontinue decreased
efficacy beliefs and instead create a positive aura surrounding the team. As previously
suggested, coaches may structure mastery experiences in practice and game situations in
an effort to enhance team efficacy. These encouraging beliefs may then transfer to the
ultimate goal attainment of performance success.
PRESEASON GROUP INTERVIEW GUIDE
The attached interview questions were used to evaluate team members' perceptions
of group efficacy during the initial pilot group interviews. Members consisted of 14
female collegiate basketball players, ranging in ages 18-21 years. A series of group
interviews ensued in order to allow for the clarification of ambiguous answers and to
illuminate team concerns. Open-ended questions guided the interview process where the
researcher's hunches initially guided the questions posed. These responses then initiated
* All of you have spent a lot of time together, on and off the court, as the season has
progressed. Speaking in terms of the upcoming playing season, how confident are
you in the team's abilities to be successful?
* What basketball characteristics most accurately describe this team at the present
* Who or what are you basing these judgments upon?