Academic journal article Journal of Sport Behavior

Exploring Nonverbal Behavior in Elite Handball Players: Development of the Handball Post-Shot Behavior Coding Scheme (H-PSB-CS)

Academic journal article Journal of Sport Behavior

Exploring Nonverbal Behavior in Elite Handball Players: Development of the Handball Post-Shot Behavior Coding Scheme (H-PSB-CS)

Article excerpt

Matches in team sport competitions normally last at least an hour and involve many situations in which athletes attempt to score. These attempts can result in either success (i.e. score) or failure (i.e. shots that do not result in a goal). Based on the outcome of each specific situation, players usually show different forms of behaviors as a reaction to their attempts. In the context of shooting to the goal--which can be considered the most critical moment in the game--such behaviors have been labeled post-shot behaviors (Moll, Jordet, & Pepping, 2010). These behaviors can be verbal (e.g., shouting or giving feedback to a teammate) and/or nonverbal. The latter include cues from different channels, such as facial expressions, posture, gestures, or touch (see Riggio & Riggio, 2012), which in the presence of others can function as nonverbal communication messages (Richmond, McCroskey, & Hickson III, 2012). Burgoon, Buller, and Woodall (1996) argue that people tend to rely more heavily on nonverbal, compared to verbal, communication in times of stress. Competitive events are generally considered to entail many stressors for athletes (e.g., Mellalieu, Neil, Hanton, & Fletcher, 2009). Moreover, verbal communication is not always possible during an on-going match (e.g., due to size of the court, or noise level in the arena); thus the nonverbal part of the communication becomes even more salient. The focus of the present study will be on nonverbal behaviors in the post-shot period during team sport matches.

Several functions of nonverbal behavior exist (Baesler & Burgoon, 1987), some of which are highly important in the team sport context. For example, expressing emotions is one area of nonverbal behavior (Baesler & Burgoon, 1987), and Riggio and Riggio (2012) even stated that emotions are primarily communicated through nonverbal cues. Some of the channels mentioned above, for example gestures and facial expressions, are supposed to be specifically related to the display of emotions (Bull & Doody John, 2013; Kappas, Krumhuber, & Kiister, 2013). There is evidence suggesting that some emotions are predominantly communicated through specific channels: social status emotions through the body channel, survival emotions through facial expressions, and intimate emotions through touch (App, McIntosh, Reed, & Hertenstein, 2011). Expressing emotions is considered to fulfill an important function by quickly and nonverbally communicating social information in complex societies (Shariff & Tracy, 2011). In the sport context, the nonverbal behavior seen in the post-shot period may display the spontaneous expressions of joy of the player who scored, which is communicated to teammates through specific behaviors. However, at times, emotional expressions do not necessarily reflect spontaneous emotional states. As such, socially learned rules that dictate the management of affect display in social settings exist (cf. display rules, see Ekman & Friesen, 1969) and may at times modulate the spontaneous emotional expressions. In a team sport context, for example, a disappointed player might suppress her spontaneous emotional reaction (e.g., tramping into the court in frustration), as she knows that such behavior would not be accepted in this specific situation. Merging these two perspectives, a study by Tracy and Matsumoto (2008), comparing behavioral expressions of blind, congenitally blind and sighted winning judoka athletes, found that all three groups showed similar spontaneous behavioral expressions associated with shame and pride that are thus likely to be innate; however, it also emerged that the shame display is intentionally inhibited by sighted athletes in accordance with learned cultural norms.

Linked to the idea of (learned) display rules in the context of emotional expressions, it can also be assumed that nonverbal behavior might simply be the result of a learning process, without a player experiencing specific emotions. …

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