Turning the other cheek, while incredibly difficult, is often the best answer when you feel wronged by another player. Watch the following video and see if the reaction by the defender is greater than the insult caused by the attackman:
Lacrosse, like every other sport, is a game of emotions. Good and bad emotions rise up on every sound of the whistle, and at higher levels of play the onus is on the player to behave like a good sport and not retaliate when slighted. Going back to the video above, lets look at a few different actions the defender could have taken:
- Inform an official during a dead ball that his opponent should be watched for unsportsmanlike behavior
- Walk away (a smart option, in my opinion)
- Resolve to get a great stick check against his opponent on the next possession (best option because it focuses the mind on positive action for his team)
One objective of youth lacrosse is teaching kids how to channel their emotions into something positive. I firmly believe that young players learn best through their mistakes, but only if they are called out on their mistakes in a way that creates positive action. Take for instance a young player who gets slashed during a game. This player decides to turn around and punch his opponent in the helmet in full view of the official. That player does not have full control over their emotions. He did not think through his actions, and as a result cost his team the ball, a three-minute penalty, and an expulsion for punching another player.
What counts in this situation is the reaction by the coach, who must now call his young player out on his behavior. The best line I ever heard was from a youth coach that said, “Johnny, I love that you play this game so passionately, but the official is always going to see you retaliate. I want you to promise me that if another player wrongs you that you come to me first, and let me handle it.” This statement is perfect for a youth player to recognize that they made a mistake, but also give them a tool to handle future problems on the field.
Notice also what the coach did not do to his player. He did not yell, scream, or berate his player in any way. He took a big negative that hurt his team, but turned it into something positive. Remember coaches, if your player retaliates against an opponent, don’t make the mistake of retaliating against your player. Coach him up, and give the young kid a tool to better handle a rough situation in another game.
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