As we approach the Spring season, it’s easy to let our excitement take over and forget about what got us to where we are. I’ve got FIVE basic rules that every player can follow, and I am willing to bet that if you follow these guidelines you’re going to experience a fantastic 2014! We’re hoping that everyone has a great Spring, and we hope this list assists you in getting it done.
1) Don’t Just Play… IMPROVE
It’s easy to go to practice with the team, play in games, and do what is expected of you. It’s much harder to put some pressure on yourself to do more, and then actually follow through on it. If practice starts at 4pm, get out there at 3pm and put in the extra work shooting, working on ground balls, or doing one-on-ones. If YOU put in the extra time, you will notice improvement in your game. If your TEAM puts in the extra work, you will all notice improvements, and your squad will win more games. If you LOVE lacrosse, you should be looking for ways to practice and play more. The opportunity is there, so grab it by the horns. More shooting, more wall ball, more time with a stick in your hands. Make it happen.
2) Figure Out Your Pocket
It’s easy to upgrade your shaft or head, simply by shelling out some additional dollars. But is this really going to help your game in any tangible way? Probably not. But there is something else you can do, which is much cheaper, and will help a lot more… get your pocket set up NOW! Your pocket is the most individualized piece of equipment you own. Make sure you can shoot with it. Make sure you can cradle and pass with it easily. Make you sure you can catch and scoop up ground balls. Then make sure you have a back up head that is strung up the exact same way. If you can’t pass the ball well, you can’t play well. Get your sticks in order ASAP!
There are so many resources out there now for Stringing from the LAS Tutorials to ECD’s database to StringKing’s UString project, and beyond. Buy some supplies, get on YouTube, and teach yourself how to fix, maintain, and string your stick. It’s a huge part of the game that EVERYONE can control for themselves. Know it, learn it, live it.
3) Never Put Your Head Down
We don’t dodge with our heads down because that is when we get hit hard, but that’s not what I’m talking about here, even if it’s a good point. Mike Daly at Tufts doesn’t mind when his players shoot the ball and the goalie makes a save on a good shot. Goalies make saves. It happens. Daly does mind when a player puts his head down and sulks after a play doesn’t go his way, and it’s one of the better pieces of advice I’ve ever heard.
If you make a bad play, and put your head down to sulk for two seconds, you have just wasted two seconds where you could have been trying to make up for that bad play. Goalie makes a save on you? Don’t put your head in your hands… TURN AROUND AND RIDE! Get the ball back. Score the next goal. Make a feed. Pick up a loose ball, or play good defense. The worst thing you can do is wallow in your own momentary failure… there is more lacrosse to be played!
4) Learn The Golden Rule, And Use It
Do unto others as you would have others do unto you
If you were a coach, would you want some kid giving you a hard time? If you were a player, would you want some coach picking on you incessantly? If you were a ref, would you want players, coaches, and parents screaming at you? If you were your own teammate, would you want to play with a ball hog, or someone who is always talking trash?
Hopefully, the answer to the above questions is an emphatic “NO”. Assuming that is the case, keep all of this in mind when you play. Lacrosse is a game, and there is something more important than playing well or winning… and it’s called sportsmanship. If we really wanted to see a “war”, we’d go to Syria and set up lawn chairs. We don’t actually want to see that. We want to see a hotly contested, intense, and honorable GAME. Honor the game above all else (this means above yourself, your team, winning, etc) and you’ll be just fine.
5) Have Fun
We often hear the phrase “But I was just having fun!” used as an excuse to rationalize bad behavior. So when we talk about “having fun”, some distinctions need to be made. It’s not about just YOU having fun. It’s about creating a fun atmosphere to play in. This means that your parents, coaches, teammates, and even the refs should have fun. It also means your opponents should have fun too.
How do two teams play a game, where one loses, and everyone has fun? If you’re asking this question, it means you’re probably doing it wrong. Wins and losses are important, but they aren’t everything. I’ve lost some games in my day that were fun games. It bummed me out to lose, but I also recognized that the game was played hard, both teams gave it their all, and sportsmanship was on display… this gave me a sense of enjoyment, even if I personally didn’t play that well.
The above attitude made it easier to get back to work the next day, and it helped me focus on Rules 1, 3, and 4 even more. Maybe it even gave me greater clarity on how my pocket needed to be set up… all I know for sure is that Rule 5 is the hardest one to truly follow, but the rule with the biggest potential payoff.