Optimal sport performance can be facilitated by physical prowess (e.g., speed/strength; Malina, Bouchard, & Bar-Or, 2004) and expert perception (e.g., anticipation/decision making; Starkes & Ericsson, 2003). In team sport, performance is also influenced by group dynamics, or how efficiently a team functions (Carron & Eys, 2012). One process that can negatively influence proper functioning is intra-team competition. Although less apparent than inter-team competition, intra-team competition (Carron, 1980; Harenberg & Reimer, 2014) can manifest itself is various ways (e.g., contests for roster positions, playing time, advancement). This type of competition extends to sport officials, who often work as teams to adjudicate contests, but also compete against each other for prestigious game assignments. As officials are a necessity in sport, and influence contests in many ways (e.g., safety, fairness), a better understanding of the group-related processes involved is warranted. This paper is part of a larger study on group dynamics among sport officials, although the purpose herein is to specifically illuminate the concept of intra-team competition. Participants were 17 male ice hockey officials (Mage = 30.1, SD = 5.7) with 12.9 years (SD = 6.6) of experience, who currently perform in the four-official system (i.e., two referees and two linesmen). Following Patton’s (2002) guidelines, respondents engaged in semistructured interviews, which were coded using Charmaz’s (2006) initial, focused, and theoretical coding scheme. Results indicated that despite the acknowledged salience of intra-team competition for advancement, officials were united in maximizing the team’s—rather than the individual’s—performance. Interestingly, while referees frequently cited feeling supported, the level of support varied. In the discussion, we contextualize the results, offer recommendations for optimizing performance while negotiating the intricacies of intra-team competition, and suggest methods to reduce competition (e.g., having a transparent selection process).
|Journal||JOURNAL OF SPORT & EXERCISE PSYCHOLOGY|
|Publication status||Published - Jun 2015|