As Iron Sharpens Iron: Understanding Competitive Processes in Elite Sport Teams

Harenberg, Sebastian
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research, University of Regina

The purpose of this thesis was the exploration, definition, conceptualization, and measurement of competition within elite sport teams (i.e., intrateam competition) by using an exploratory sequential mixed-methods design (Creswell, 2006). In Study 1, intrateam competition from coaches’ perspectives was examined. It revealed two distinct competitive processes: situational competition and positional competition. Situational competitions are planned competitive situations that occur during practice (e.g., scrimmages). Positional competition is the vying for the same limited playing time by teammates in the same position. The latter was examined further. In Study 2, athletes’ perspectives of positional competition were explored. The results showed that positional competition is an ongoing group process with inputs, processes, and outcomes. Next, a definition and conceptual model of positional competition was proposed. This model built on the qualitative findings from Study 1 and 2 as well as relevant literature. In Study 3, a questionnaire to measure the processes of positional competition was developed. The development of the scale included four phases. In phase one, an initial pool of 108 items and 13 dimensions were generated and administered to an expert panel. This resulted in generating 19 additional items. In the second phase, the items were administered to a sample of undergraduate students (N = 221). The number of items was reduced using statistical procedures (e.g., item-to-total correlations). The resulting version included 58 items and nine dimensions. In the third phase, the questionnaire was administered to a sample of 812 CIS/NCAA athletes. The scale was reduced in items and refined using confirmatory factor analyses. In the last phase, the reliability and validity of the resulting 25 items measuring positional competition on seven dimensions was examined. Overall, the scale showed satisfactory reliability, factorial validity, and initial evidence of construct validity. In conclusion, this thesis uncovered two different competitive processes within elite sport teams (i.e., situational and positional competition). It focused on the definition, conceptualization, and measurement of positional competition, which is a unique process in elite sport teams. Future research is encouraged to examine the relationship between positional competition and other group processes (e.g., cohesion, performance).

A Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Kinesiology and Health Studies, University of Regina. x, 222 p.