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Miracles on Ice; Stages of Team Development

Miracles on Ice; Stages of Team Development

October 27, 2023

In the realm of sports, we have found that the journey of a team often mirrors Bruce Tuckman's stages of development. As we delve into the captivating story of the USA Men's 1980 Olympic hockey team, famously known for the "Miracle on Ice," we'll uncover how their remarkable journey embodies Tuckman's stages of team development, showcasing the power of unity, growth, and triumph against all odds.


The film "Miracle on Ice" skillfully depicts the forming stage of team development, a pivotal period during which Coach Herb Brooks led the U.S. men's hockey team in preparation for the 1980 Winter Olympics. Inspired by Bruce Tuckman's model, this stage involves the team's initial gathering, acquainting with each other, and defining individual roles within the team. 

Coach Herb Brooks faced a daunting challenge in forging a cohesive team from a diverse group of college players. The team members hailed from various backgrounds and played for different college teams, each bringing their unique playing styles and systems to the table. As the forming stage unfolded, uncertainty gripped the players, as they were unfamiliar with each other and uncertain about their roles within the team. 

Leadership and team dynamics were also prominent challenges during the forming stage. Brooks challenged the players to rise above individual ambitions and embrace a collective identity as the U.S. Olympic hockey team. He emphasized the paramount importance of teamwork, underscoring that their success hinged on their ability to work cohesively as a unit. 

At the core of the forming stage, Coach Brooks played a pivotal role in cultivating team cohesion. As a central figure, he guided the players through their initial struggles and instilled a shared vision of success. Brooks' unwavering commitment to his coaching philosophy and steadfast belief in the team's potential infused the players with confidence and motivation. 

In an iconic scene from the movie, one player speaks up with frustration, expressing doubts about his place on the team. He admits that he's finding it hard to adapt to Brooks' strategies and feels overwhelmed by the pressure. Brooks listens attentively and then delivers a heartfelt response. He shares a personal story from his own playing days, recalling a time when he faced a similar crisis of confidence.  

Brooks explains that he had to learn to trust his teammates and the system, and it ultimately led to his own success as a player. With sincerity, Brooks assures him that every player on the team has been chosen for a reason and that each one of them brings unique skills and strengths to the ice. He urges them to put aside their individual worries and focus on supporting one another as a team. 

As the forming stage progressed, the players gradually adapted to Brooks' coaching style and wholeheartedly embraced the team-oriented approach. They recognized that to attain success at the Olympic level, they needed to put aside personal differences and come together as a united and determined force. 

The forming stage sets the foundation for the team's development journey, as they progress from a group of strangers to a united force with a shared purpose. Through the guidance of Coach Herb Brooks, the U.S. hockey team overcame the challenges of the forming stage and embarked on an unforgettable and historic journey toward achieving the "Miracle on Ice." 

In the movie "Miracle on Ice," the storming stage of team development for the U.S. Olympic hockey team was a critical period marked by internal conflicts, challenges, and the process of overcoming adversity. Under the leadership of Coach Herb Brooks, the team experienced significant struggles and tensions as they sought to come together as a unified and formidable force. 

During the storming stage, the U.S. team faced several obstacles that tested their cohesion and determination. One of the primary challenges was the clash of different playing styles and egos among the players. Assembled from various college teams, each player was accustomed to different strategies and systems, leading to disagreements and conflicts on the ice. 

Coach Brooks' coaching methods intensified the storming stage. He implemented a rigorous and demanding training program, pushing the players to their physical and mental limits. His unorthodox decisions and relentless pursuit of excellence created additional tension within the team. Players were unsure of their roles and questioned Brooks' approach, leading to a sense of uncertainty and resistance. 

One of the most memorable moments during this phase occurs after a particularly tough game, where Coach Herb Brooks takes the players back to the ice for an exhausting and grueling skating drill. As they skate, Brooks yells "Again!" repeatedly, pushing the players beyond their physical limits.  

The players' frustration and exhaustion are evident, but Brooks remains unyielding, determined to instill in them the belief that they are not just playing for themselves, but for the United States of America. It is during this intense moment that Mike Eruzione, the team captain, finally breaks the silence and utters those powerful words, "I play for the United States of America."  

This pivotal moment signifies a turning point in the storming stage, as the players begin to unite under a common purpose and understand the significance of representing their country on the international stage. It marks the beginning of their transformation from a group of individuals to a cohesive team, ready to face their greatest challenge in the upcoming Winter Olympics. 

However, as the storming stage progressed, Coach Brooks recognized the importance of addressing the team's internal issues to achieve success. He realized that a united team, playing with a common purpose, was vital to overcoming the formidable Soviet Union team in the upcoming Winter Olympics. 

Brooks took deliberate steps to bridge the gaps between players and foster a sense of camaraderie. He organized team-building exercises and bonding opportunities, encouraging playe1rs to work together and trust one another.  

The turning point in the storming stage came when the players began to recognize that their individual success was secondary to the team's collective achievement. Brooks delivered a powerful speech in the locker room, emphasizing the significance of unity and selflessness in achieving greatness. This motivational created a sense of purpose and determination. 

As the U.S. team entered the Winter Olympics, they had successfully navigated the storming stage and emerged as a united and resilient group. The challenges they faced during this stage not only strengthened their bonds but also solidified their commitment to playing as one cohesive team. 


As the U.S. Olympic hockey team progresses into the norming stage in "Miracle on Ice," the players begin to overcome their initial conflicts and form a cohesive unit under the leadership of Coach Herb Brooks. The intense training and team-building exercises during the storming stage have started to bear fruit, and the players are developing mutual respect and understanding. 

During the norming stage, the players start embracing their roles within the team, and key figures like Mike Eruzione, the team captain, and Jim Craig, the talented goaltender, step up as leaders both on and off the ice. Their examples set the tone for a sense of unity and shared purpose among the teammates. 

Coach Brooks' unwavering commitment to team building plays a crucial role in guiding the U.S. team through the norming stage. He continues to emphasize the significance of teamwork and conducts trust-building activities, such as off-ice bonding sessions and team dinners. These efforts help the players establish personal connections and build trust, which proves essential for their success on the ice. 

As the U.S. team progresses further through the norming stage, they become more receptive to Coach Brooks' coaching philosophy. They come to realize the significance of discipline and commitment in achieving success at the highest level of competition. Brooks' emphasis on collective sacrifice and the greater goal of defeating the Soviet Union resonates deeply with the players, instilling in them a strong sense of purpose and determination. 

During the norming stage, the U.S. Olympic hockey team begins to hit their stride, securing early round victories against Czechoslovakia, Norway, Romania, and West Germany. These wins serve as a testament to the team's growing cohesion and unity, as they execute Coach Herb Brooks' strategies with precision and determination. The players, who were once divided by individual ambitions and collegiate rivalries, have transformed into a tightly-knit unit with a shared purpose. Each victory becomes a milestone in their journey from a mere group of individuals to a formidable team. 

The confidence of the U.S. team soars as they continue to progress through the Winter Olympics, setting the stage for the historic showdown against the mighty Soviet Union. This ultimate test of their teamwork and resolve is where they will truly prove the strength and unity they have developed during the norming stage. The U.S. players now firmly believe in themselves and their collective abilities, ready to face their greatest challenge in the unforgettable "Miracle on Ice." 


As the U.S. team advances into the performing stage in "Miracle on Ice," they are poised to take on their greatest challenge yet - facing the formidable Soviet Union team. Having successfully navigated the norming stage, the players have solidified their unity and determination, ready to showcase their exceptional on-ice chemistry and teamwork. 

Throughout the performing stage, the U.S. team demonstrates seamless coordination and executes Coach Brooks' strategies with remarkable precision. Their relentless work ethic and mutual understanding are evident in every game they play, earning them respect from their opponents and fans alike. 

The defining moment of the performing stage comes in the showdown against the Soviet Union during the Winter Olympics. The Soviet team is considered unbeatable, having dominated international hockey for years, while the U.S. team is seen as massive underdogs. However, fueled by unwavering belief in themselves and their collective abilities, the U.S. players surprise the world with an awe-inspiring display of skill and determination. 

Led by Coach Brooks' strategic brilliance, the U.S. team outperforms the Soviet Union at every turn. Their improved teamwork and discipline on the ice, honed through the forming, storming, norming stages, become evident in the pivotal game. The victory over the Soviet Union becomes known as the legendary "Miracle on Ice," a symbol of the U.S. team's journey through the stages of team development. 

This triumph over the Soviet Union is no fluke; it is the result of the team's continuous development and growth. Subsequent games, such as the gold medal match against Finland, further showcase the U.S. team's ability to sustain their peak performance and secure the Olympic gold. 

The performing stage of "Miracle on Ice" highlights the U.S. team's transformation from a group of individuals with conflicting interests to a united force with a shared purpose. The power of effective team collaboration under the right leadership is exemplified by the U.S. players' extraordinary achievements. 


"Miracle on Ice" not only captures the U.S. Olympic hockey team's journey through the forming, storming, norming, and performing stages of team development but also serves as a testament to the team's perseverance and dedication. Under the leadership of Coach Herb Brooks, the players overcome conflicts and differences, forming a cohesive and determined unit through hard work, trust-building, and a shared sense of purpose. Their historic victory over the Soviet Union immortalizes them as one of the most celebrated and unforgettable teams in sports history.