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Four Stages in Building Chemistry

Team chemistry is not stagnant but always changing. Throughout the course of a season, a team will often go through a number of stages before, hopefully, fully meshing into a strong, high-performing unit. In order to help guide your team to this ultimate goal, it’s important to know how to recognize the different stages of development.

According to an article on the Championship Coaches Network, there are four stages of team development: Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing. Not all teams will automatically progress from one stage to the next, but this is the general progression to expect during a season.

Forming:

This occurs at the beginning of each season as freshman and transfers join the team and returning players bring new experience, knowledge, and expectations. This period is both exciting and full of uncertainty, as players are trying to get to know each other and figure out their roles. Some returning players may be hoping to take on more of a leadership role while new players may not even be sure if they will make the cut. At the same time, everyone will be learning a lot about each other, as the players get to know the coaches, coaches get to know the players, and the players get to know each other.

Storming:

After the initial forming stage, players start to more closely interact and compete with one another. Personalities may clash and things can get tense as certain players fight for the same spot. This can lead to a lot of conflicts between players, coaches, and staff. But according to the Championship Coaches Network, it’s not your job to avoid conflict, but rather to channel it into healthy team development.

While this stage may be difficult, it’s also necessary to go through. It can help to talk to your team about the inevitable conflicts before they occur and to explain how to manage these situations maturely. Once a team gets through the storming stage, they are on their way to truly bonding. If your team seems to be stuck in this stage, it’s important that you address any of the issues that are holding back your development. If players are in continual conflict, talk to them and give them the tools to resolve it and work together.

Norming:

When your team starts to mold into the standards you have laid out, they will enter the norming stage. Articulating these rules and expectations of conduct is important, as they relate to how players act in practices, the classroom, the weightroom, at home, and with their friends. If you want your team to conduct themselves with a certain work ethic and attitude, you will need to make these expectations clear. This will help establish a productive and successful environment for everyone to work in. Once proper behavior becomes second nature, your team will be ready to move onto the fourth and final stage.

Performing:

Reaching this stage is the ultimate goal. This can only be done when every member of a team fully embraces a team-first mentality and buys into the vision of the coach. If certain players are stuck on worrying about playing time or not getting picked over other players, the team can never reach its full potential. If you find your team is struggling to make it to this stage, it can help to mix things up and go back to the storming stage so you can hash out any lingering conflicts. This may seem like a step in the wrong direction, but it’s necessary to get everyone on the same page. Once you’ve overcome internal conflicts and gotten everyone moving in the same direction, you’re ready to perform at a high level. 

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