Cohesion makes up between 20% to 40% of performance. Because it is such a significant driver of performance the reliance on player skill is less than traditionaly assumed. A high cohesion team does not require as high a skill base to be successful. Low cohesion teams require highly skilled individuals to achieve success, but this success is volatile and comes at a premium. While the skill base of high cohesion teams doesn't need to be as high as compared to a low cohesion team, high cohesion actually adds to the ability of players to become more highly skilled.
The analogy of a pair of jugglers is useful in explaining how this works.
Not only do the jugglers need to be individually skilled, they also need to understand how their respective partners works. The shared experience between the pair is crucial to the success of the pairing.
If a pair of jugglers have been working together for 5 years they will have learnt how to work in their pair. Because their shared experience has allowed them to understand each other they can focus on their own skill development. Their skill development becomes a continual process (see the green line in the graph below).
A second pair of jugglers started at the same time as the first pair, except after 1 year one of the pair changes. The new pair now has to spend time developing the new combination. During this time individual skill development has plateaued because the focus is on developing the shared experience. Only after a certain time can they begin working on their individual skill. After 2 years the pair changes again. The new combination must spend time on the new relationship as their individual skill development has plateaued again.
After 5 years the individual skill level of the first pair is now greater because they have been able to move past the relationship development. The second combinations do not have the same skill level as there has been a greater focus developing the combinations (see the red line in the graph below).
A trait of low cohesion teams in continual player turnover. As new players come into the team environment they spend time developing their shared experience - whether they realise it or not. As per the juggler analogy their individual skill development within the team environment plateaus.
A resultant dynamic of this is the perception that new players do not "come on" when coming into a low cohesion team. This perceived lack of skill development is often a result of the cohesion issues within the team, not a reflection of the players or coaches ability. In a similar way, the effectiveness of a team's academy is not necessarily a function of the academy system but the cohesion levels of the 1st team.
UK / Europe Tour
To coincide with the Rugby World Cup, GAIN LINE Founder Ben Darwin and General Manager Simon Strachan spent 4 weeks in the UK and Europe. The purpose of the trip was to meet with clients, engage further with the European sporting community and continue to develop our relationship with Prozone and their Performance.LAB platform.
GAIN LINE met with 11 Premier League and Championship football team Managers and Directors of Football, 2 National Rugby bodies, the League Managers Association (LMA) and was heavily involved with the Football Association Technical and Sporting Directors Discussion Forum.
Overall the trip exceeded expectations with very positive feedback on what GAIN LINE can offer sporting teams.
In November 2014 GAIN LINE's Ben Darwin was interviewed by Owen Slot of The Times newspaper. In the article Ben discusses the almost impossible task England had to win the Rugby World Cup and gave some insight into the drop in performance of Liverpool FC. Read the article here.
GAIN LINE is an operations and management consultancy with a unique perspective on success in professional sports. We believe great teams are more than just the sum of their parts; we believe great teams are the product of the linkages and connections within their playing group. As such, we help clubs build these linkages and connections with a view to sustainable, long-term success both on and off the field. As distinct from other firms in the industry, GAIN LINE places a strong focus on data analysis and quantitative research. This means we offer our clients solutions that are grounded in evidence and real-world experience.