Runner’s World has recently featured an experiment, examining the effects of competition on performance, conducted at the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, by Christopher Ring, Maria Kavussanu, David McIntyre, and Andrew Cooke, who is now a lecturer at the University of Bangor.

In this experiment, young adults completed a handgrip endurance task during individual and team competition, while measures of enjoyment, anxiety, and effort were taken. Compared to individual competition, team competition increased effort and performance. Importantly, participants enjoyed the team competition more, and this increased enjoyment explained the superiority of team competition on influencing performance. Finally, anxiety also increased in team competition but did not have a negative effect on performance.

These findings are important not only because they indicate that being part of a group can confer the greatest benefits to sport performance but also because they underline the significance of enjoyment during the task. The full link to the study, which has been published in the latest issue of the Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology and also won the University Graduate School Poster competition for Andrew Cooke a few years ago, can be found on the Runner's World website.