It’s finally time: time for your lacrosse season to begin. Time for the line drills, one on ones, and groundball battles with your teammates. Time for conditioning tests, those shuttle and distance runs that will push you harder than you ever thought possible. Time to see who’s been working and who’s been rolling out of bed, tweeting something like “Time to grind. #NoDaysOff,” and heading to the couch to watch cartoons.
Let’s say you fall in the first category, and you’ve been training like never before. You worked your off-hand, your footwork is on point, you name it. Think you’ve got everything taken care of? Think again, because there’s always something you look back on and say you wish you’d addressed, something you wish you’d known earlier.
And that’s where this piece comes in: if you find out now what you’ll wish you’d known later, you’re bound to be better off this season. With that in mind, I asked some the best players in the game this question: knowing what you know now, what would you tell yourself right before high school tryouts began? Here’s what they had to say:
Goalie, West Genesee Wildcats, Rochester Rattlers
If I could go back into high school tryouts, there are a few glaring things I would make sure to emphasize to my young, stubborn self.
1) It is no one’s fault but yours. Humility will encourage your teammates and establish yourself as a leader. Never blame someone for something going wrong on your end. Take responsibility and learn.
2) Be a leader with respect. Don’t sacrifice the improvement of the team for the worry that you won’t look “cool”. Real leaders step up and take charge of their teams, even if it isn’t the cool thing to do.
Midfield, Libertyville Wildcats, Chesapeake Bayhawks
Ideally the major issue for me is to develop leadership skills and become the best person you can be by giving it 100% at everything you attempt. Leadership skills are the most important characteristic to develop as a young adult. They teach you responsibility and how to work with others. Being named captain of my H.S. lacrosse team meant to me that I was in charge of and responsible to what ever happened with our team. I took that role as if I had to watch all 25 kids on my team and make sure everyone was doing their deeds to be the best that they could be on and off the field.
You cannot go through life at only 50% because you then will only get 50% of what you want. You have to be willing to go above and beyond your expectations in order to strive and be successful on and off the field. This starts with a hard work ethic towards academics, because being able to play a sport is an honor and a privilege that your mom/dad are allowing you to do because of how hard you work. Without academics you cannot have athletics.
Put the work in and set goals for everything you do, and never be satisfied after you accomplish them. Move on to the next big thing and keep pushing yourself to be the best that you can. I lived by this “practice makes perfect, but there is no such thing as perfection… practice, practice, practice” Lastly, be willing to give back to your community and thank the ones who have gotten you to where you are today.
Midfield, Friends School Quakers, Team STX (LXM Pro Tour)
If I could go back to my high school try outs and talk to the young, skinny, and awkward 9th grade version of myself, I’d have two main points to make. The first would be DO NOT COAST. Growing up as a player, and especially in high school, I had a tendency to coast through games and practice. I’d tell myself to go as hard as you can, for as long as you can. Don’t hold ANYTHING back, and leave everything you’ve got on that field, every time your fortunate enough to step on it.
The second thing I’d tell myself is to be assertive. Don’t go to the back of the line before a drill starts, be at the front. When you get to practice, put your gear on and be one of the first on the field throwing the ball around. At Hopkins I used to LOVE doing the first one vs one of practice (though it started with Coach Petro and Coach T making me, I grew to love it), and in high school, I didn’t have that mentality. I’d tell myself to be assertive in everything you do on the field, even if it’s uncomfortable at times.
Attack, Chaminade Flyers, New York Lizards
If I could contact myself back in the summer of 2007, I’d have a lot of advice for my rising high school senior self. I’m sitting here wondering: how would I dispense this advice? Would I call myself? That can’t work because I still have the same number. I could leave myself a note, but my mom used to leave me notes on the kitchen table reminding me to walk the dog and I know those don’t work. I think I’d just have a good old-fashioned sit down with myself. Let’s play out the dialogue. Can’t get any more real than that.
Present Me: What’s with the modified bowl cut?
Past Me: Our hair can’t touch our ears at Chaminade, remember the rules?
Present Me: Oh yea. Either way, that mushroom cut is miraculous. Anyway, I’m here for a reason. I want to give you some advice about lacrosse.
Past Me: Okay, like what? And when was the last time you went to the barber?
Present Me: 2008. But listen, you need to learn how to go righty. You won’t always get away with just a left. In college, every team will have scouted you for weeks. You need to be a jack of all trades. And you need to learn how to take outside shots.
Past Me: We still can’t take outside shots?
Present Me: Nope, that’s why I’m telling you. You also need to realize that laziness is the cool thing in high school, but hard work is the cool thing in college.
Past Me: What does that even mean?
Present Me: In high school, I thought it was cool to take things casually. I thought no one liked a practice hero. At the next level, though, the practice hero does more for the team than anyone else. In fact, the best teams are made up entirely of practice heroes, top to bottom.
Past Me: That makes sense. So I need to go harder in practice?
Present Me: You need to go harder in everything. And hit the weights. And lose the pregame McGriddle ritual. Or at least cut it down to only one.
Past Me: But I’m accepted into a college already. This is supposed to be my time to cruise and be a menace to society.
Present Me: You can cruise if you want. You’ll actually do okay for yourself. But if you want to outdo me, put your foot on the gas. Otherwise you’ll be typing a depressing blog post in 2013 when you could be watching Ice Age.
Past Me: That movie is pure.
Present Me: I know.
So there it is, some of the best advice from some of the best in the game. Whatever your goal this season – from making the team or becoming varsity captain, finally winning that title or keeping it right where it belongs, keep these lessons in mind and they’re sure to pay off. Good luck, and enjoy it. Now, it’s time to grind.