Fostering Team Development

Floorball team development is one of the most difficult and crucial aspects to any successful team.  While there are always players who stand out on teams in the end it is the collective team that wins and loses games.

However, being able to navigate the development of players from year to year can be quite the challenge if you’re not fully aware of what’s going on in group development and how to navigate it in the right direction.

It is widely known that there are multiple stages of group development.  These stages were first proposed by Bruce Tuckman and are the basis for group development.  Effectively teams or groups of people will go through a variety of stages grow, face challenges, tackle problems, to find solutions and deliver results. The stages are forming, storming, norming, and performing. Forming the group is the beginning of the season where players and coaches are still trying to figure each other.  As the team progresses through the season there will ultimately be conflict in various forms (storming).  In working to resolve conflicts the group has thus created new norms in which to operate and understand each other.  An example would be players knowing where each other are on the court and relay passes instinctually.  Now the team can begin to fully perform at their peak with everyone fully understanding their role on the team.  When players and coaches know and understand these phases they will be better prepared to recognize them as they happen and respond accordingly.

One thing people don’t know about me is that while working on my Master’s Degree I was employed as a team building instructor at George Williams College in South East Wisconsin.  I was fortunate to work with a variety of people from all sorts of backgrounds from corporate groups, schools, and sports teams.  The group that stood out to me in my time there was working with an elite volleyball club.  It was memorable for a number of reasons, but mostly that we were doing high and low ropes development in January and February where the temperature hovered below zero.  Needless to say being able to pull a team together while outside in 0 degree weather all day was a challenge.  While the athletes never touched a volleyball the entire time they were with us we were able to challenge them in various ways in order to bring out the stages of development.  In the end this form of training became a useful tool for the players and coaches to recall upon later on in the season.  At the time I know some of the players didn’t fully understand what was going on or why, and likely didn’t want to be there, but hopefully were able to recall the experience and use it later on.

While many sports teams focus on the development of the player there are many who forget to develop the team as whole.  Part of the job of a coach is to develop humans who will learn, grow, fail, and succeed.  At times this process may feel uncomfortable it is important to not shy away from it.  While I’ve won many games, and been part of many different experiences in my life the things I remember are the teams I was part of whose experience transcended simply winning.

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