The Winner Takes All : A Qualitative Study of Cooperation on Cycling Teams
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionScandinavian Sport Studies Forum 2012, 3:189-209
Cycling is arguably one of the most physically demanding sports. However, road cycling athletes are also challenged by a social-psychological tension induced by a fairly simple dilemma: There will only be one individual winner, but no one can win unless teammates sacrifice their own chances to win. This article addresses ways to effectively handle this challenge. We conducted in-depth interviews with athletes from professional and conti - nental road cycling teams, as well as team sports directors. Our findings indicate that a prime undertaking indeed is to deal with the trade-off between individual goals and team goals. We identify three principles that may help to improve cooperation: involvement, cohesion, and the psychological contract. These principles seem to facilitate cooperation and a collective orientation, and they seem to be positively related to performance and satisfaction. We discuss these findings and their implications for cycling teams in particu - lar, as well as for teams and team management in general.
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