Group Development and Group Dynamics

Working as part of a team is an integral aspect of sport, business and any performance environment (education, military and performing arts). If we can function effectively as  team then we will maximise our chances of winning and being successful.

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” - Aristotle

The difference between a group and a team is the interaction between the members of the team who depend on each other to achieve the goals they collectively have. A group will interact with each and communicate over a period of time to develop a collective identity that is different from other groups.

So a group could be a supporters group of a football team and a team could be any sports team.

Teams can be further split into Interactive and Coactive teams. These are:

Interactive teams require members to work directly to achieve success.

Coactive teams achieve success in their respective events/games to achieve overall success.

Stages of Group/Team Development

Tuckman proposed a stages team development (Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing, see diagram below). If you are aware of the key characteristics within in each stage and what to look out for then you can implement strategies to assist your team to move quickly through each stage and get as close as you can to PINNACLE PERFORMANCE, giving your team the best opportunity to be successful and maximise chances of winning.

Stages of Team Development Diagram   


This is a great clip from the American Football film Remember the Titans.  This film is a great example to highlight the different stages of group development.


The forming stage is where team members first meet and they familiarise themselves with other team mates (think back to your first day at college!). Team members will compare themselves against each other and assess each team member’s strengths and weaknesses. Individuals in the forming stage will identify whether they belong in the group and what their respective role in the team will be and after role identification individuals will start to form interpersonal relationships which will be tested.

There was another American Football example which was a Channel 4 programme on the preseason training camp of an NFL team (Cincinnati Bengals).  This programme was called Hard Knocks.  This was a 4 part series that clearly highlights the Forming, Storming and Norming Stages of the Tuckman's Stages of Group Development.  There are lots of players fighting for spots on the team and the coaches have a difficult job to get the squad from 90 players down to the 52 needed at the start of a season.


This stage is categorised by resistance to the leader and their rules they have implemented within the environment. This resistance occurs when team rules are made and developed. There is also infighting between team mates (e.g. social/emotional and even physical can occur in the storming stage as roles within the team are established (e.g. joker etc). Within the storming stage coaches need to communicate openly and objectively about rules, expectations and responsibilities and implement strategies to decrease stress.

Coaches can do this by using the PINNACLE PERFORMANCE Team Development Kit.  Click on the button to find out more.


In the norming stage the resistance and hostility seen in the storming stage is replaced by solidarity and cooperation as a sense of unity forms. Individuals work together toward common goals and group cohesion is increased as members pull together and build team unity as roles in the team are stabilised and accepted so instead of competing against each other the team strive for task effectiveness. Within the norming stage coaches should reinforce effort and performance and highlight member’s unique roles and responsibility.


This is the stage where the team channels their collective energies for team success and are achieving PINNACLE PERFORMANCE. The role within the team are well defined.  Great examples are the LA Lakers basketball team of the early 2000's and the Chicago Bulls basketball team of the late 1990's.  The interpersonal relationships are stable and individual success is respected as the primary goal is team success.  This links to task and social cohesion.

To help achieve this check out the PINNACLE PERFORMANCE Team Development Kit. Click on the button below.

Steiners model of group effectiveness

Steiner proposed a model to demonstrate group effectiveness. If you are involved with a team you can highlight actual productivity against potential productivity against things that can reduce and inhibit group effectiveness.

So the Steiner’s model looks like this:

Actual productivity = potential productivity – losses due faulty group processes

Potential Productivity refers to a team’s best performance when everything in the team is taken into account (e.g. player’s ability, knowledge and skill as well as how difficult the task is) (Weinberg and Gould, 2007).

“The abilities of individual team members do not always serve as good predictors of how a team will perform” - Weinberg and Gould (2007)

Faulty group processes can be further spilt in Group Motivational losses where team members may not be putting in 100% effort or Coordination losses where timing between team mates is off or tactics or strategies are inappropriate.

Ringelman Effect

The Ringelman effect suggests that as group size increases, the individual productivity of the people within the group decreases. As a result Social Loafing can occur where people may not put in 100% effort in because the group size is big and they feel they can hide away.


Weinberg, R. and Gould, D. (2007)  Foundations of Sport and Exercise Psychology (4th Ed.).  Champaign, Ill: Human Kinetics.