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Castles by Ants – Episode 31: Competition Systems and Their Rules

An ongoing series about psychology in the world of sport.

If we are aware of management’s goals, we can start building a successful team along those lines. Every sport has its trends, and when planning for the long term, it is worth reviewing them for at least the past 10 years. On the other hand, building a club or national team requires more than just sports expertise. I have already mentioned international trends, but I would like to emphasise once again that regardless of the sport, there is a clear tendency to take a pass on the more individualistic, selfish characters – the Ruler and Individual — and give much more space and patience for the personality types that are loyal, hard-working, yet not so distinctive — the Expert and Supporter. Of course, I would state for the record here that it really matters what the goal is regarding final results! In addition to being objective, trends also raise interesting points about teambuilding. For example, according to our research, the personality composition of a team is clearly influenced by the particular sport and that sport’s tournament/competition system. What am I talking about, specifically? Let’s look at an example of a club and a national team. In the case of clubs, I think it can be said that the Champions League is one of the most important competitions. But the system of the competition is completely different in football and, for example, basketball. Traditions have remained strong in football, and to this day, the final is played by two teams, after a wearisome, one-year march. But the whole competition starts with group matches and then switches to a direct elimination system. While balanced performance is paramount in group matches, there is no opportunity to correct errors in the knockout system. The players’ form needs to be sharpened for that one match to keep the team moving forward. While in group matches, stable players can come to the forefront — Supporters and Experts — in the knockout system, those who play the main roles are those who can get the most out of themselves in a particular match (or maybe even just a couple of minutes in the case of strikers in football). Rulers are the most capable of this, while Individuals also having a chance. It is no coincidence that most football clubs, while obviously relying on the hard-working, loyal, good-natured team players, can by no means go on without the often lazy and self-interested athletes who deliver like “a bolt from the blue”. Thus, teams can only get to the top with a complex personality roster. But if all four personality types are present on a team, then conflicts are guaranteed. A team can only succeed if they do not try to eliminate conflicts altogether, but instead learn how to manage them!

Men’s Handball Champions League 2018-19, Personality distribution of the winning team, Barca Lassa
Men’s Handball Champions League 2018-19, Personality distribution of the winning team, Barca Lassa

Men’s Handball World Cup, 2019 Personality distribution of the winning team, Denmark
Men’s Handball World Cup, 2019 Personality distribution of the winning team, Denmark

European Men’s Handball Championship (2018); Personality distribution of the winning team, Spain
European Men’s Handball Championship (2018); Personality distribution of the winning team, Spain

Personality distribution of the Spanish team without goalkeepers
Personality distribution of the Spanish team without goalkeepers

2016 Rio Olympics, Men’s Handball; Personality distribution of the winning team, Denmark
2016 Rio Olympics, Men’s Handball; Personality distribution of the winning team, Denmark

In the case of club teams in basketball, the situation is already a bit different. Here, a twist has been added to the end of the Champions League called the Final Four. This has given clubs the opportunity to go without the Ruler type. While Ruler players can clearly decide the final victory in a one-match final played on a neutral pitch in football, the basketball Final 4 requires two days of peak performance, which is more typical of Expert players. But whatever the sport, we can clearly say that only heterogeneous teams are able to win in the end.

 


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Castles by Ants – Episode 30: Supporter and Expert Coaches