Q. Lisa, my team and I were just in a tournament and we knew we could beat all the other teams but we ended up losing… and with bad scores! It seem that some girls were just not trying hard. I tried to talk to the team but a few athletes didn’t want to take it seriously. Our team needs help if we want to win but I don’t know what else to do. Some advice would be appreciated!

A. I hear ya. Underperforming is so frustrating!

I suggest you try the role of ‘leader by example.’

You went for a direct approach to leadership–asking them to try harder–and noticed that some of your teammates didn’t respond as you had hoped.

Sometimes players feel bad about losing and don’t want advice from teammates.

Your best bet now is to ‘be the way you want them to be’.

This means that you do not pressure your teammates in any way – either when you talk to them or in how you THINK about them.

Instead, model the things you would like to see from all your teammates.

For example:

1) Get to the rink 30 – 45 minutes before practices and games.

2) Do your best to attend all team activities.

3) Push yourself to your physical limits during every drill in practice.

4) Be vocal and only positive during games.

5) Spend time with all of your teammates, not just your closest friends.

6) Set a goal to do ONE thing in every game that will help your team win. For example, you can refuse to make a bad pass…tell yourself that you would rather keep the ring (and get checked!) than give it away in a bad pass.

Just by doing this, you are inviting your teammates to follow your example.

Also, be sure to encourage all of your teammates – particularly the ones you feel are not showing the effort that is needed to succeed. Remember, the word encourage means to “give courage to”. When you give away courage, it spreads like wildfire.

Often if an athlete is ‘slacking off’ it’s because she feels scared or not important on the team.

Encourage these teammates with your words and also with high fives and smiles.

Catch ya,
Lisa B.