This month’s edition of Sport Psychology rounds out the final stage in the Tuckman (1965) model of team development, the Performance Stage. This is the stage in which the team has come together around a set of goals and norms, allowing them to play as one unit rather than a group of individuals.
If you have been following the progression of the previous team development articles (Forming, Storming, Norming), you have probably noticed the linearity of stages that Tuckman (1965) developed. All the stages are completed in succession with each taking different amounts of time to complete. It is important for coaches and athletes to understand that developing a team that performs well together takes intentional practice and cannot be taken for granted.
The final stage of the Tuckman model is the Performing stage of team development. This is the stage where the team functions as a singular unit and finds ways to get the job done smoothly and effectively. Now, even though the team is operating at a high performance level, wins are not guaranteed. The result of winning is a combination of a number of variables other than team cohesion, such as practice time and effectiveness, game strategy, and others.
In the Performing stage, the team comes together to focus on productivity after having established a solid foundation of relationships between each other. Team members have become interdependent, motivated, and knowledgeable enough to take ownership in all minor conflicts that may still emerge. The leaders of the team will be able to address and resolve all issues that arise so that the coaches can focus on systems and tactics. Athletes will still disagree with decisions and structure but small types of dissension will be dealt with through means acceptable to the team and its norms. Everything is handled appropriately within the group.
During the game, a team in the Performing stage competes in a synchronized flow of movements. Each individual knows the boundaries of what is expected of them from teammates and coaches. Their understanding of the style of play the team has become second nature and they know who to work for in certain situations. Each athlete trusts themselves and each other to “stay in their lane” so that they play a team style of game rather than look for individual heroics. The play is fluid and purposeful.
Although team members are now competent, autonomous, and able to handle decision-making processes in the performing stage without supervision, they will still need to find ways to improve in all those areas. As playoffs approach, there will be a lot of fine-tuning needed to be added to training by the coaching staff and athletes in their individual roles. The progress and journey toward excellence never stops which is the beauty of competition. As one team improves, other teams find ways to innovate and rise above, adding to the evolution of possibilities in the human performance and sport. Remember, as a coach of a team in the performing stage, you can focus more on fine tuning team systems and tactics and less on team dynamics in order to elevate the level of your team's performance.
Want to learn more? Follow the articles below for the whole story!
Stage 1: Forming
Stage 4: Performing Case Studies
About the author: Brian Alexander is a mental skills coach who combines eight years of experience as an Olympic level water polo athlete, a master's degree in sport psychology, and business leadership training and coaching from The Ken Blanchard Companies to partner with athletes and performers of all ages and levels. "My passion is to empower others to succeed in life, athletics, performance, and daily activities. My personal mission statement is to be a genuine and honest leader who collaborates with and learns from others in order to find a mutual personal level of excellence physically, mentally, and spiritually."
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