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Sports Psychology - Forming Storming Norming and Performing

Updated on July 27, 2012

Bruce Tuckmans Forming-Storming-Norming-Peforming Theory

Anybody in a Sports Team either as a player or coach should read this, it gives a good insight into Teams and could really help you to understand your own team and the proccess its going through, ive seen this proccess in my own Football team and its interesting to see that it is an actual phenomenon.

Established in 1965 this theory worked to identify the process in which a team must go through, to go from being a group to a team and necessary stages it must go through in order for development to occur.

The forming stage is where members of the group come together and establish initial agendas, often a big social aspect is present during the forming stage as it is spent getting to the know the rest of the group, whilst forming interpersonal relationships amongst it, individuals will be assessing and forming opinions on the other members of the group, what they may bring to it and whether they themselves belong within it. During the Forming stage the members are evasive of conflict and in a sporting sense are more preoccupied with themselves and their own performance and whether that will be acceptable to the group. Initial leaders will rise at this stage.

The Storming stage, the group will now most likely have further subdivided into one or more groups within a group often referred to as cliques of members which formed interpersonal relationships during the forming stage, initially afraid of making a bad first impression or rocking the boat, opinions that were formed during the Forming stage can now be shared amongst the cliques and then ultimately aired to the whole group, this will often lead to conflict as views on the team of one clique may clash with that of another and often the direction and methods of the leadership will come into question, this is often a painful process of problem identifying and can be damaging to morale if too much time is spent within this phase and some teams never do make it past this phase, a shift has now occurred as where during the Forming stage the players were preoccupied with themselves and their own performance the team now becomes focused on the performance of others and the team as a whole collective.

The Norming stage, Now that the problems have been identified and solutions put forward, the team can now proceed to operate in one image and co-operatively resolve any conflict that arose during the Storming phase, this will often involve some degree of compromisation. This should result in increased Group Cohesion and satisfaction. The roles seemingly taken during the Forming stage may change or be established, albeit re-established confirmed, New leaders may emerge in wake of the storming phase and work collaboratively or replace the old leader depending.

Performing stage, with all conflicts now resolved and roles established the team now becomes a functioning unit and can reach the achievement of their shared goals, in contrast to previous stages the performing stage is more independent as contingencies and strategies on how to deal with certain situations have already been established in previous stages and everybody is aware of the roles they maintain.

There is no set time refrain that a group will spend in each stage, It will depend on the groups maturity and tolerance of each other amongst other factors, some teams never will make it past the Storming phase and only a select few make it the performing stage, it is quite possible to revisit stages, commonly as a reaction to changes in personnel or as a reaction to recent performances of the team, within Sport this is mainly due to one of two things, a team even in the performing stage will most likely be forced to change their dynamics at some point, especially since the human body has biological restrictions, most team sports based athletes are forced to retire around the age of 30-40 years old, therefore other personnel must be brought into the team to replace them and this can push a team back into the Storming phase as new roles are established and leaderships challenged and the team must once again find a common plan and overcome conflicts in order to be singing off the same hymn sheet. A string of poor performance and results which endanger the team’s chances of hitting their shared targets is more often the case for even a team without disruption from new members to revisit prior stages, in order to re-address problems, establish new ones and new strategies to overcome them


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