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British Psychological Society's Annual Conference News Release 'Initiation ceremonies don't build team spirit'

15 April 2010 British Psychological Society (BPS)

Initiation ceremonies don't build team spirit

Team building activities in sport are carried out for tradition's sake and don't help players to bond, according to results of a new study presented today, 16th April, at the British Psychological Society's Annual Conference in Stratford-Upon-Avon.

Research into initiation practices in sport by Dr Moira Lafferty, from the University of Chester, and Dr Caroline Wright, from Liverpool Hope University, reveals that there is no positive relationship between team building activities and better team cohesion.

Dr Lafferty explained: "Initiation ceremonies have often been described as "rites of passage' for new players joining sporting groups or teams. Despite attempts to eradicate inappropriate team building activities there is still evidence that they take place and are perceived to promote team cohesion.."

The researchers examined the level of appropriate and inappropriate activities engaged in across a range of sports and then explored their relationship to team cohesion to discover whether differences exist between co-active sports, such as badminton, tennis and horse riding, and interactive sports such as football, rugby and cricket. The study involved surveying 100 athletes from across the country aged between 18 and 24.

The results showed little to suggest that team building activities, which can be as basic as having a meal together, helped significantly promote team unity.

"Our findings suggest that, despite there being no positive relationship to team cohesion, team building activities, both positive and negative, are still conducted," Dr Lafferty said.

"Interactive sports players are more likely to be subjected to inappropriate team building activities, which suggests that the idea of initiation may be embedded in the tradition of these teams and is seen as part of their cultures."

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