From a team sport perspective, players’ emotional expressions can have a detrimental impact on team performance through a process called emotional contagion (Hatfield et al., 1994). Moll et al. (2010) examined emotional expressions of soccer players during penalty shootouts and found that individual expressions were related to team success. Touch is one way of expressing emotions and considered an important part of emotional communication (Hertenstein et al. 2006), but has so far only received limited attention in sport psychology research (e.g. Kneidinger et al., 2001). The present study aims at expanding the approach of Moll et al. (2010) by investigating if touching behavior as a specific form of emotional expression is related to subsequent performance in women’s team handball.
Eighteen matches from the highest women handball league in Sweden resulted in a total of 1,239 coded situations that form the basis for the analyses. The coding situation starts when a player executes a shot with the intention to score and ends when she has returned to her defense position. A coding scheme was elaborated based on existing literature and was checked for face validity by an expert panel with four experts. Coding was done by the authors and checked for both inter-observer reliability through the coding results of a research assistant and intra-observer reliability through a re-test. Analyses were done using t-tests, ANOVAs and logistic regressions.
Overall, the results reveal that the winning team shows significantly more touching behavior after scoring than the losing team (t = -2.36, df = 613, p < .05). There is a significant decline in the average of touching behaviors after scoring from the beginning to the end of the match (F = 2.29, df = 5, p < .05). Moreover, teams use significantly less touching behavior after scoring when they are far behind than when scores are close or they are leading (F = 4.00, df = 2, p < .05). The results of the logistic regression show that the amount of touch after scoring significantly predicts success in the coming offence for substituting players (χ2 = 4.33, df = 1, p < .05). Likewise, there is a trend in the same direction for permanent players after not scoring (χ2 = 3.65, df = 1, p = .06). To conclude, touch behavior seems to play an important role in team sports and deserves further attention in research.
The ISSP 13th World Congress of Sport Psychology, Beijing, China, 21-25 July 2013