The Mental Edge 04 August 2023

04 August 2023

Mental Edge Newsletter

Helping You Gain A Mental Edge

7 Problems Dysfunctional Teams Can Run Into In Sport

Dysfunctional teamwork refers to a situation where a group of individuals (players and/or coaching/support staff) within a club or organisation fail to work effectively together.  The end result often equals poor performances and problems in achieving common goals.  There can be many causes of dysfunctional teamwork with 7 common characteristics that I’ve noted from my work falling into the following categories:

1. Lack of autonomy: We all crave a sense of control, therefore if players are stifled and not given enough autonomy, you’re unlikely to see a player take the initiate and express themselves fully.  As a result, their confidence may be impacted as well as their ability to contain their frustrations. 

2. Ineffective communication: Important information is not communicated well to staff and players.  Information often gets lost or is misunderstood, leading to mistakes and misunderstandings.

3. Leadership inadequacies: If a team, club or organisation lack strong leadership or if the key decision makers fail to guide and support players, confusion can reign.

4. Unclear roles and responsibilities: When players or staff are uncertain about their roles and what is expected of them, it can lead to more confusion, misguided focus and effort.

5. Unaddressed feedback and suggestions: When players or staff suggestions are not considered or acted upon, reduced commitment levels becomes evident.

6. Unresolved conflict: Conflict and disagreements amongst staff and players in sporting environments are very common, especially the higher up the levels you go.  What can lead too poor morale and impact effort levels, as well as causing tension and frustration? It is when these issues aren’t resolved swiftly.

7. Trust issues: If players and staff don’t have full trust in each other, how is it possible to create an open and honest atmosphere? It’s not possible and the blame game and suspicion can take over. 

Addressing dysfunctional teamwork requires decision makers in the club or organisation to take a step back and identify underlying causes.  Then ensure strategies are thought out to improve communication, clarify roles and expectations, build trust, resolve conflicts and foster a positive team culture. 


“Teamwork makes the dreamwork” – John C Maxwell.  This quote is the motivation behind the latest episode of Demystifying Mental Toughness, where I look to challenge your thinking by considering the 3Cs Teamwork Cycle of cooperation, coordination and communication alongside the 4Cs Mental Toughness model created by Professor Peter Clough. 

After all, successful teamwork, often gives teams, clubs and organisations a lot better chance of performing well, on a consistent basis, as well as maintaining harmonious relationships.  It’s a must listen for coaches looking to challenge their approach and for those involved in team sports.


David Charlton Sports Psychologist

Best Wishes 

David Charlton

Online Sports Psychologist | Mental Performance Coach who supports many highly motivated athletes, young and old, developing their skills or who are already highly skilled so that they gain a mental edge and get the most from their talent across the globe from USA/Canada to Great Britain and Ireland to UAE, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, using ONLINE Video Conferencing.    

Managing Director – Inspiring Sporting Excellence

Host of Demystifying Mental Toughness Podcast

Founder of The Sports Psychology Hub 

Author of The Mental Edge

With over a decades’ experience supporting athletes, coaches, parents and teams to transfer their skills from training to competitive situations, under pressure.

T: +44 7734 697769

E: [email protected]

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