Natick Middle School Coach
National Team Coach for USA Women’s Field Hockey
Ainslee Lamb was head coach of the Yale University field hockey team from 1999 to 2003. In 2005, she became head coach of Boston College, where she coached for 10 years. Under her lead, the Eagles recorded a winning record and have received many accolades. At the end of the 2014–15 season, Lamb resigned her position as head coach. She is currently coaching Natick Middle School girls field hockey as well as coaching various national teams for the USA Field Hockey program including U17, U19 and U21.
A 1994 graduate of the University of Toronto, Lamb was a three-year field hockey letter winner, helped lead the team to a national championship in 1988 and earned All-Canadian honors three times.
Prior to college, Lamb was a member of both the 1990 World Cup team and Canadian National team from 1987-92, where she competed in the Junior World Cup, the Olympic qualifying tournament and two Four Nation Tournaments.
What She Gains Coaching Youth Girls
Amazingly enough, my proudest accomplishment is coaching middle school girls U14 field hockey. That’s been incredibly rewarding for me, but I do a feel an increased responsibility coaching those young women versus the national team level. When I reflect on the last two years, I think about those coaching opportunities with Natick middle school girls who have touched field hockey for the very first time. Relative to twenty years of collegiate coaching, I think that the culmination of my coaching experience came to the forefront with this young age group.
Young girls playing sport can teach us so much. The best example is “will to prepare” and “desire to win” are key intangibles that I want to instill in young athletes but at the same time, they teach us true perspective. It’s a real tribute to them that they have the ability to be very focused with their sport but also can also compartmentalize – certainly much better than elite coaches can. That’s what I’ve learned from them.
Why Coaches Should Ask, “What Are You Doing Well?”
One of the first questions that I ask all the teams and individual athletes I work with are: “What are we doing well?” I don’t know if I ever asked the athletes that I worked with at Yale or Boston College this question. The emphasis was on what do we need to work on, what do we have to fix, why are we not winning the game right now. More the doubting questions versus instilling these athletes focus on what they are doing well. Feeding them with what they are doing well ironically takes care of the things that are not happening on the field because they go back with such confidence on what they are doing well and they focus on those strengths instead of things that not allowing them to win the game.
I love that now. It’s the first question that I ask. My rule with my daughter is that she has to tell me three things she does well before I will have a conversation about things that we can do better. I think it’s really important that they feel confident about what they are doing, but girls need to learn to say things that they do well. Ironically, we sometimes are so critical and always expecting more of ourselves that even in individual meetings with the Boston College athletes and you ask the girls what are your strengths. They would answer, “I can’t really think of one.” And yet these young women are some of the best players in the country. I really like to instill in young women don’t be afraid to say something you are good at. The getting better and improvement conversations are then easier to have.
For more of Ainslee Lamb’s advice on coaching her daughter, advice to first time coaches, and retaining girls in sports, please read How to Coach Girls coming out March of 2018.