Theoretical and Methodical Approaches to Studying Team Cognition in Sports

Nathan J. McNeese, Nancy Cooke, Michael A. Fedele, Robert Gray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


For most people, the concept of a team is most often associated with the context of sports. Sports permeate our society and are a critical form of entertainment for many. Fans of sports teams intently watch their team, often thinking little about the many complexities involved in any given team sport. Yet, the complexities are many, and one serious area that is historically understudied is the development of team cognition within sports teams. Sports teams are dynamic, in that they rely on both physical and cognitive dimensions of teamwork to be effective. A sports team does not only focus on strategy or developing a game plan to beat their opponent (cognitive), they must also execute this on the field of play (perceptual motor). The integration of both cognition and physical execution is dependent on the development of team cognition. Team cognition allows team members to develop an understanding of their overall strategic goals and implement them on the field. Thus, the development of team cognition within sports has the potential to greatly improve performance. Yet, to fully understand how team cognition develops within sports teams and its impact on and off the field, we need to study the developmental process more within this specific context. As with any domain specific area, conceptual/theoretical approaches and research methodologies must be identified as meaningful for the selected research context. This paper presents and describes theoretical approaches that are useful for studying sports and team cognition. Specifically, this paper explores and describes the theory of Interactive Team Cognition [1] as a perspective and approach to studying the development and implications of team cognition within team sports. As previously noted, sports are a highly dynamic activity and dependent on many functions (communication, coordination, collaboration) to be effective. The theory of Interactive Team Cognition directly aligns with these functions, acknowledging that team cognition is an activity (sports is) that is highly dependent on the context that it is occurring in. In addition, the theory also states that it is best to study and measure team cognition when the team is the unit of analysis. In this paper, we also present methods for how researchers can study team cognition within sports teams. The paper concludes with an overview of the potential to study team cognition within sports teams using the aforementioned approaches and methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1211-1218
Number of pages8
JournalProcedia Manufacturing
StatePublished - 2015


  • Methodology
  • Sports
  • Team Cognition
  • Theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Artificial Intelligence


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