Do perceived justice and need support of the coach predict team identification and cohesion? Testing their relative importance among top volleyball and handball players in Belgium and Norway


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Abstract

Objectives:Based on findings in organizational psychology, the aim of the present study was to test the relevance of perceived justice and need support of the coach in team sports. Specifically, two studies examined their relation with athletes’ team identification and team cohesion.Design:Two cross-sectional, questionnaire studies conducted after a midseason game day.Methods:In study 1, Belgian top level female volleyball players (N = 56; M = 22.33) and male handball players (N = 35; M = 23.59) completed web-based questionnaires assessing athletes’ perceived justice and need support of the coach and their team identification and cohesion. In study 2, Norwegian top level female handball players (N = 110; M = 22.8) filled in mail surveys assessing athletes’ perceived distributive and procedural justice of the coach and their team identification and cohesion.Results:Both studies used Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) to analyze the data. In line with our expectations both overall perceived justice and need support by the coach, positively predicted athletes’ team identification (p < .05). Study 2 demonstrated that procedural justice and not distributive justice predicts team identification (p < .05). In addition, team identification positively predicted athletes’ task and social cohesion (p < .001) and mediated the relation between procedural justice and both forms of cohesion.Conclusions:These findings clearly indicate the importance of both perceived justice and need support for top level team athletes from different cultural settings. Coach-related procedural justice in particular seems to be crucial for elite athletes’ team identification and cohesion.

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