Team sport, or sporting activities where there are multiple players and/or teams competing, is an important component of physical activity for many young people. It is often one of the most popular sports participation choices for high school students (Coakley, 2017; Brener, 2013).
Benefits and Characteristics of Team Sports
Participation in team sports involves working with others to achieve common goals, a critical skill that helps young athletes develop their confidence, skills and connections, character, and caring (Bruner, Eys, & Turnnidge, 2013; Fraser-Thomas, Cote, & Deakin, 2005; Shields, Gardner, Bredemeier, & Bostrom, 1995). Athletes on team sports also learn about responsibility from having to be accountable for their actions as well as from having to be patient while they wait for teammates to make their plays.
Group Norms as a Source of Social Influence on Youth Athletes
Group norms, or expectations that members of a group hold for the behavior of their peers, are a crucial component of sport teams, providing a sense of how to behave in a given context and how to be accepted by other group members. Developing and maintaining group norms is an essential aspect of teamwork, and the consequences of failing to do so can have a significant impact on the athlete’s overall experience with a sport team (Carron & Eys, 2012).
Although group norms are an important part of a sports team’s culture, they can be challenging for athletes to maintain. Moreover, a number of studies have linked group norms to negative outcomes for athletes (Bruner & Eys, 2013, Carron & Eys, 2011; Odgaard et al., 2015; Ommundsen et al., 2003). These findings provide some insight into why athletes may choose to behave in ways that are contrary to their group norms.