How Do I Get Her To Try Her Best?

lack of effort on the ice
The Mind Coach
Ask The Mind Coach is dedicated to the “mental” part of hockey from both player and parent perspectives. Shawnee Harle takes your questions and provides feedback based on her experiences and training. If you have a question to Ask The Mind Coach, email us!

“I am having a hard time getting my 6-year-old girl to try her best when she is on the ice. She says she loves hockey and is always keen to go, but as soon as she steps on the ice she seems to lose that love. She is a good skater but barely moves during practise or games. The coach — who is amazing — has tried her best to encourage my little girl with no luck. We have been careful not to make her feel bad by being critical, but everyone except my little girl is frustrated. Any words of encouragement you can offer that we can pass along?”

First off, it’s interesting that everyone but your daughter is frustrated.

What would happen if the coaches and parents let her drive the bus, as quickly or as slowly as she wants?  If she’s only 6, who cares how fast the damn bus is!!  Let her go at her own pace for a while until she feels more competent.  The most important thing is that she enjoys it.

Second, we need to help her see herself better. We need to increase her self-awareness.

Ask her these questions:

1. On a scale of 1-10, how fast are the skaters around you?
2. On a scale of 1-10, how fast are you?
3. How fast would you like to be?

If the scale doesn’t seem like the right fit, try FAST, KINDA FAST, SLOW. Where I’m going with this is she may simply be unaware that she barely moves during games or practices.  She may be enjoying the scenery😊.

I also suggest video taping her and then showing her the video and asking her about what she sees.  Again, this is an exercise in increasing self awareness. If there is no behaviour change after trying this, there may be a fear holding her back.

In other words, she may be aware of her speed, but afraid to go fast, afraid to jump into the fray.  Ask her if there is anything that makes her nervous when she’s on the ice, is there anything she’s afraid of, anything she’s unsure about.

Her answers will guide you from there.

IMPORTANT: All my suggestions are based on gathering information so you, her and her coaches are solving the right problem.  We don’t change behaviour by addressing the behaviour.  We must look underneath and see what causing/driving the behaviour.

Shawnee is a two-time Olympian with 26 years of elite coaching and leadership experience. She is a Mental Toughness Coach and helps athletes of all ages gain a competitive edge, get selected to their dream team, earn that scholarship, and compete with COURAGE and CONFIDENCE when it matters most. And because it take a village, Shawnee also works with their parents. Learn more at

More from The Mind Coach