“Sport is where an entire life can be compressed into a few hours, where the emotions of a lifetime can be felt on an acre or two of ground, where a person can suffer and die and rise again on six miles of trails through a New York City park. Sport is a theater where sinner can turn saint and a common man become an uncommon hero, where the past and the future can fuse with the present. Sport is singularly able to give us peak experiences where we feel completely one with the world and transcend all conflicts as we finally become our own potential.” ~ George A. Sheehan
“How you think when you lose determines how long it will be until you win.” – G.K. Chesterton
There will be a time when your team loses a game and afterwards you will think to yourself, “if only I did this we would have won.” I assure you that every one of your teammates and your coach are thinking the exact same thing. I also assure you that just thinking about what you could have done will do absolutely nothing for your team in the next game.
I like Chesterton’s quote but I think it misses the mark. Simply thinking does not accomplish anything after a loss. You must think about why you lost and then do something about it. There was one game that I had my junior year that was absolutely abysmal. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong. For a full week after the game all I could do was think about how my team and I had screwed up, but I never did a thing to correct it. I never talked with my teammates or my coach. I didn’t try to practice on my own. All I did was sit and think. I was missing the critical step of doing.
When you lose you can’t focus on everything that you did wrong. Instead focus on two or three things that you can do on your own time to improve upon for the next game. If you missed one pass too many then hit the wall for an extra ten minutes each day. If you missed a ground ball get a friend to toss some quick grounders to you. If you committed a foul that led to a man-up goal for the other team then play that foul back in your head and see what you can do differently the next time around to avoid that foul.
Remember, it isn’t just thinking about what to do after you lose. What you do after you lose determines how long it will be until you win.
Yours in Lacrosse,
The saying practice makes perfect is simply incorrect. I’ve seen many players and teams practice and practice hard. Yet, even with their intense practices they collapse on game day. I’ve watched the game for so long that I can tell which team will come out strong after watching a team warm up before the game. One team will be uniform in their warm up. Crisp passing, effective communication, and an intensity for perfection is what makes these teams succeed against the team that just goes through the motions.
Perfect practice makes perfect. The individuals and teams that dedicate themselves to showing up at practice to improve their technique will succeed greatly over time when compared to the team that practices hard, but imperfectly. A solid practice has the following:
- Emphasis on technique above all else
- Focusing on the off hand equally or greater than the strong hand
- Communication between the defense and the offense (these are always the strongest teams)
- Intensity for the sake of perfection not for intensity alone.
The last bullet bears greater examination. Players at each level of the game should be capable of doing a passing drill without dropping five passes at minimum. This is how it goes: “We don’t get out of this drill until five passes are completed in a row,” or “Ok, you all got five passes now we aim for ten.” A good coach will keep going higher and higher until the players are so focused they will not dare drop the ball and they will put all of themselves into catching it. That is the level of intensity that should be cultivated in a practice. At the end of the day the players should know they put in some hard work to improve a small part of their game. It will never be perfect but by chasing that perfection a player or a team can get close to that elusive goal.
Yours in Lacrosse,