The Impact of Teambuilding:103 Studies on 1500 Teams

Group of professionals engaged in a teambuilding activity.

Have you ever wondered about the effectiveness of teambuilding activities for sports teams and professional groups? The question often arises: Are these activities genuinely beneficial or just a mere waste of time? Dive deep into the findings from an expansive meta-analysis of 103 studies encompassing over 1500 teams.

Read more: The Impact of Teambuilding:103 Studies on 1500 Teams

The Popularity and Purpose of Teambuilding

In recent years, teambuilding activities have gained significant traction. Typically, experts in the domain curate these programs, ranging from survival challenges in harsh terrains to casual team parties or group sports sessions like boxing or padel. Such endeavors aim to bolster team cohesion.

Rinus Michels on True Teambuilding

Renowned football figure Rinus Michels opined in his book that external activities serve as prerequisites. Michels defined teambuilding as a strategy for teams to improve their attacking, defending, and transitioning dynamics. He astutely noted that a mere weekend retreat wouldn’t necessarily translate to enhanced in-game performance. However, interpersonal interactions during such events can indeed facilitate the football learning process, leading to a more cohesive team effort during training sessions.

The Value Derived from Teambuilding Activities

Researchers from the University of Central Florida and the US Army Research Institute conducted a comprehensive meta-analysis in 2009. They re-examined data from 103 studies, focusing on four pillars: Collaborative Knowledge (Cognitive Outcomes); Team Trust and Satisfaction; Practical Collaboration; and Productivity. Interestingly, teambuilding exercises, whether survival tasks, sports, or casual outings, positively impacted all these pillars. The most significant effect was seen in mutual trust and satisfaction, while the least was on collaborative knowledge.

Key Elements in Teambuilding Activities

So, what truly matters in teambuilding events? Researchers underscored aspects like Role Clarity, Relationship Building, Goal Setting, and Problem Solving. Among these, establishing clear roles and goal-setting emerged as pivotal. In 2019, software company Nulab surveyed its employees on their teambuilding preferences. Events with alcoholic beverages, sports activities, and holiday parties topped the list, while ice-breaker questions, workshops, and personality tests were least favored.

Guidance for Effective Teambuilding

Multiple studies echo Michels’ sentiment – teambuilding is integral to coaching in sports like football. Here are some actionable insights from these research findings:

  1. Involve the team in choosing activities.
  2. Engage in dialogues about individual roles and collective objectives.
  3. Ensure every team member understands their role.

Not every team activity may be apt for discussing these topics. However, with informed choices, teams can maximize the returns from their teambuilding endeavors, fostering a stronger collective will to excel.


Teambuilding activities, when executed with intention and insight, can be potent tools to foster cohesion and drive collective performance. It’s crucial to tailor them according to team preferences and the desired outcomes.


Klein, Cameron & DiazGranados, Deborah & Salas, Eduardo & Le, Huy & Burke, Shawn & Lyons, Rebecca & Goodwin, Gerald. (2009). Does Team Building Work?. Small Group Research. 40. 181 – 222. 10.1177/1046496408328821.

Michels, R., Hickey, J., & Hickey, M. (2001). Team building the road to Success. Reedswain.

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