Doing sport psychology: personal-disclosure mutual-sharing in UK professional soccer

Jamie Barker, Paul McCarthy, Phyllis Windsor

Research output: Contribution to conferencePoster


Cohesion is an important facet of performance in team sports (Carron, Colman, Wheeler, & Stevens, 2002; Eys, Burke, Carron, & Dennis, 2006). Accordingly, sport psychologists and team managers value techniques that produce changes in cohesion (e.g., Gardner, 1995; Crace & Hardy, 1997). Despite the efficacy of many interventions to develop cohesion (cf. Eys et al., 2006), sport psychologists continue to explore alternative interventions for enhancing group cohesion. One novel approach involves athletes publicly disclosing personal stories and information previously unknown to the team members (Dunn & Holt, 2004; Holt & Dunn, 2006; Yukelson, 2006). Personal-disclosure mutual-sharing (PDMS) fosters a greater appreciation of team members’ values, beliefs, attitudes, and personal motives (Hirsch, 1992), which in turn helps communication through shared perceptions, meanings, constructs, and understanding (Ostroff, Kinicki, & Tamkins, 2003). This study evaluated the effects of a PDMS intervention on team cohesion and communication in 21 UK male professional soccer players before a domestic cup semi-final, along with documenting the emanating applied issues. Social validation data revealed that most players felt the intervention was worthwhile and benefitted the team by enhancing closeness, understanding of teammates, and communication. Data from the Group Environment Questionnaire (GEQ) and the British Scale for Effective Communication in Team Sports (BSECTS) showed no statistically significant changes in cohesion or positive and negative communication from pre to post-intervention; yet the team performed above their expectations in the semi-final only to lose in a penalty shoot-out. We discuss the issues emerging from this study (e.g., the manager removing items from the GEQ, and foreign players struggling to understand the measures). Finally, guidelines about using a PDMS intervention in UK professional sport teams are presented.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2010
EventAssociation for Applied Sports Psychology 25th Annual Conference - Providence, United States
Duration: 27 Oct 201030 Oct 2010


ConferenceAssociation for Applied Sports Psychology 25th Annual Conference
Abbreviated titleAASP 25th Annual Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • sport psychology
  • psychology
  • professional sports
  • soccer
  • football
  • cohesion
  • personal-disclosure
  • mutual-sharing


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