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Dealing With Division In Teams


  • Is your team stuck in transition?
  • Is half your team wanting more and the other half is happy the way things are?
  • Are you trying to keep everyone happy but stuck in fear of losing people?
  • Are you exhausting yourself trying to keep people motivated?
  • Do you feel like you’re dragging some people along?


It’s not easy and it’s always scary when a team starts to transition. It happens and is a natural progression as athletes reach personal goals and are awakened to the desire to succeed in a way not yet experienced. And while some paddlers are happy and content with the team goals they can feel pressured and unappreciated when they don’t share this desire. But to be clear; being recreational compared to competitive is not about winning at races but rather the level of commitment to train and pratcice that sets a team mandate. A goal is independent of the mandate once the direction of the crew has been established. It is the process of training and team development combined with the expectations in practices that dictate a team mandate.


As coach, our job is to provide the training and process for the team to reach its mandate. Without a clear mandate our roles can be confusing and create discord among paddlers as well. So the first step to take when teams are experiencing this divide is to revisit the vision and mandate (often a mission) of the group and work together till majority agree. It may mean some paddlers leave this team to find teams that meet their level of paddling while you may also attract new paddlers looking for what your mandate offers. It can be unnerving and it can also be exciting.

I won’t pretend to know which way to go but here are a few tips to help you along:

1. Have a team meeting to create or revisit your team vision and mandate.

2. Get your members to vote. Put this decision in the teams hands to make them accountable to the outcome.

3. Create a season plan according to the mandate that clearly outlines the expectations moving forward.

4. Develop a process of training or skill development if required.

5. Have a system to measure the teams progress and adherence to the mandate and vision.

Clear direction and a plan to get there will create a vibe of confident expectation from all members!


Cheryl Roose

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