There is something very powerful about getting a group of people to work towards a shared goal. It can, however, be very challenging to make this happen – especially when groups feature individuals with many different approaches, beliefs and values. This is where a deeper understanding of teamwork theories comes in handy. Teamwork theories are organised ways of understanding certain circumstances, procedures, and behaviours. The Bruce Tuckman team-development theory identifies the process through which a team develops, as well as which challenges and possibilities arise throughout the steps of the given process. The Bruce Tuckman theory was carved out in the 1960s and consists of four main stages titled forming, storming, norming, and performing. Understanding these stages can also help physical education teachers and coaches better identify patterns within group behaviour and adapt their approach accordingly.

  • The stage of forming takes place when the team or group members first meet each other. Group members will initially attempt to avoid conflict in fear of giving a bad first impression. This stage is mostly important for becoming acquainted and learning to work together. Here, physical education teachers and coaches should focus on creating a good kick-off process to help set the tone for the goals and expectations of their classes and sessions.
  • The second stage is known as storming. At this stage, not only do the ideas and perspectives of different individuals emerge, but the disagreements and arguments regarding these ideas also begin to evolve. This stage challenges the goals set at the beginning and is a test of group members’ maturity and ability to compromise with others – which are two major necessities for successful teamwork. Therefore, physical education teachers and coaches should also be willing to compromise and adjust their goals and expectations at this stage.
  • The third stage is norming, which takes place when the group is ready to move forward with assigning roles and begin actual work and/or goal realisation. This stage can be a good time to discuss and revaluate how the group is functioning.
  • The fourth stage, performing, happens when the group or team begins to work as one cohesive unit efficiently and productively. There is very little argument or hesitation. The development process is complete when individual members are properly synchronised within their roles. The accomplishments and positive behaviours exhibited should be noted and celebrated, reinforcing the progress already made.
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