Up Your Game: The Mental Tune Up + Q&A w/ James Fritz

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Ohio at New York - MLL Week 15

Hey YOU! Do you REALLY want to get ready for the season? Well stop worrying about your body and focus on being mentally prepared for the 2017 season. I encourage you to develop a conditioning program for a mental tune up.

While many of you will understandably be working on your stick skills, spending time in the weight room, doing wall ball, and running through plays on the field, don’t forget about the mental game! Remember this. When you step onto the field, you are actually playing two games.

There is the game that everyone is watching take place on the field. And there is the other one taking place in your head.

Want to actually excel as a lacrosse player and elevate your performance?

Then you need to make time to develop certain mental skills that will give you the opportunity to play your best game. You want to learn how to play, and win, the mental game.

The Mental Tune Up

One tool that you can incorporate into your mental conditioning program is The Mental Tune Up.

2016 Florida Launch vs Rochester Rattlers

The Mental Tune Up is basically a simple and straight-forward process to showing you the most important questions that you need to ask yourself throughout the lacrosse season.

Just like someone who gets the engine tuned-up so the car runs smoother and more efficiently, the athlete should get a mental tune up so his mind is sharper and more effective.

Asking the right questions are essential to your development and growth as a lacrosse player. They will give you a strong mental foundation from which you can build up your concentration, composure, and confidence.

Florida Launch 2016

Yes, there are wrong questions. I have met a number of athletes who ask them all too often. They are asking questions about things they can’t control or questions that put them in a frustrated and negative state of mind.

There are constantly questions about other players, coaches, playing time, results of a game, refs’ decisions, and the weather. For the most part, they’re all wrong.

There are the also the “why” questions.

  • Why do I always make mistakes?
  • Why am I a failure?
  • Why am I not a better player?

And then there are the “what if” questions.

  • What if I drop the ball?
  • What if I miss my shot on goal?
  • What if the coach pulls me out of the game?

These questions walk a dangerous line and you have to be careful when you ask them. Naturally your brain will simply give you a straight and direct answer. Lacrosse isn’t a straight and direct kind of sport, now is it? It’s creative and ever-changing, suited for all shapes and sizes. Therefore, you want to ask questions that put you in a positive, productive and proactive state of mind.

In his book, Awaken The Giant Within, Anthony Robbins stated, “Questions provide they key to unlocking our unlimited potential.”

Ultimately make sure that you don’t ask questions that lock the door on your growth and development as a lacrosse player.

Opening the Doors

I would highly recommend that you start using The Mental Tune Up at the beginning of your season for at least the first 30 days. It is designed in a journal format where you are presented with a quote and question for each day.

  • When you get up in the morning, read the quote.
  • Around noon, or the middle of the day, read the question.
  • Then towards the end of the day, probably in the evening, take about 15 minutes to again read the quote and question, reflect upon the topic or theme, and then write down your preferred answer.

Atlanta Blaze vs Ohio Machine 2016

The answer to each question will help prompt you to focus on the essential elements of your mental game.

These questions will point you in right direction so that you can play with a sense of purpose, the right perspective, passion and perseverance.

Examples from The Mental Tune Up:

  • “Success comes when we wake up every day in that never-ending pursuit of WHY we do WHAT we do.” Simon Sinek – Start With Why

Why am I playing lacrosse?

  • “You get to write your life story. Will you be heroic or just someone trying to get by? Will you be the star or someone sitting on the end of the bench?” Bob Rotella – How Champions Think

What is my story as a lacrosse player?

  • “…what most people don’t realize is that growth accelerates at a greater rate when attend to the things we do well…growth is always more rapid when we train our minds to learn from our strengths first and then our weaknesses.” Craig Manning – The Fearless Mind

What are my personal strengths as a person and player?

  • “Peak athletic focus is forward-thinking and goal oriented.” Chris Berdik – Mind Over Matter

What are my goals for the upcoming season?

  • “Athletes practice physical skills on a daily basis, but they usually just expect mental skills to develop themselves. They don’t. The athlete must practice effectively to perform effectively – physically and mentally.” H.A. Dorfman – Coaching The Mental Game

What mental skills am I developing and practicing each day?

Q&A with James Fritz

Recently, I had a chance to talk to lacrosse coach James Fritz. He has run and operated Jim Fritz Lacrosse for the past 18 years. Also, he has coached at the collegiate level for 26 years. In that time, James has coached 106 all-conference players, 35 All-Americans and 7 Academic All-Americans.

As a coach, what kind of players are you looking for when it comes to the mental game?

JF: I think every coach is looking for mentally tough players, players who don’t let circumstances control their attitude, who don’t let mistakes stay with them but learn and move on.

I also want players who can hold themselves and their teammates accountable.

How do you help the players develop their mental skills?

JF: We do this in a number of ways. We will often in team scrimmages make a bad call or say “turnover” and tell the players to go the other way so that they can learn how to handle tough situations; and we include it in our team standards.

We spend time talking about mental toughness. We stress controlling what they can control. With mental skills, you have to stress it all the time. You can’t talk it at the start of the season and then not go back to review it.

What aspects of the mental game do you find some players struggling with?

JF: Getting over their mistakes. Letting outside influences affect their game. Handling being held accountable.

What do you want your players to focus on or think about when they are getting ready to play in a game?

JF: Focus on their game, what they control, and coming to the field mentally ready to go.

During a game, is there anything in particular that you instruct your players to do to keep their heads in the game?

JF: I remind the players that if they are not on the field, they are still in the game. We will talk to them and remind them to control what they can control and to not let officials, other teams, etc. take them out of their game.

We often, at the end of a game, take a time out to remind them to stay focused, not get pulled into anything, that we have another game next week.

If you would like more information about The Mental Tune Up, drop me an email at risson1954@gmail.com.