Tag Archives: decisions

Retaliation

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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.

Featured Image Credit – www.youtube.com

Cheers,
Gordon

 

Poor Decisions Part Two

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My Jeep

My Jeep

Today I managed to slowly drive my Jeep back home. I had to pay the consequence of leaving my car outside some stranger’s house for a whole day and trekking back to it the next day because I was convinced of my ability to drive on icy roads. I left you yesterday this tale of my stupidity. Now I get to delve into why I did what I did.

Ever since I was little I wanted to grow up. Trouble was my brain had different plans. “‘The teenage brain is not just an adult brain with fewer miles on it,’ says Frances E. Jensen, a professor of neurology. ‘[…] These are people with very sharp brains, but they’re not quite sure what to do with them'” (www.harvardmagazine.com). The most recent research on adolescent brain development indicates that the human brain does not finish developing until the ages of twenty-five to thirty. The law may say that I became an adult at eighteen, but my brain is still developing the critical processes of long-term planning and judgement. Two processes I wish I had used harder before I went driving yesterday.

Brain Development

Brain Development

The brain “is only about 80 percent developed in adolescents. The largest part, the cortex, is divided into lobes that mature from back to front. The last section to connect is the frontal lobe, responsible for cognitive processes such as reasoning, planning, and judgment” (www.harvardmagazine.com). The picture to the left shows brain development from age five to twenty. At age five the red and yellow parts of the brain contain huge amounts of gray matter. While the blue and teal parts at age twenty contain less gray matter. It seems counter-intuitive that a fully developed brain has less gray matter than a five year old brain but the secret is in the connections. Think of a five year old brain as a laptop without an internet connection. A lot of information can get “downloaded” into it but it can only search the information that it has on the hard drive. Whereas a developed brain is the same laptop with an internet connection. This laptop can “google” all the information it wants until it find the best way to do something.

The fully developed brain uses the multitude of connections within it to plan and judge on correct courses of action. My brain had one experience of driving on the snow, but my mom had dozens of experiences driving on snow and ice that she could draw from. This is why she knew I would probably get stuck while I thought if I just drove slowly enough I would own the road.

Now, I have shared with you my story of thick-headedness and I have explained why my brain just was not up to speed. How does any of this information help us coach young players? The answer is because adolescent brains are “elastic” in their development their brains can develop along certain paths.

“Kids who ‘exercise’ their brains by learning to order their thoughts, understand abstract concepts, and  control their impulses are laying the neural foundations that will serve them for the rest of their lives. ‘This argues for doing a lot of things as a teenager,’ says Dr. Giedd. ‘You are hard-wiring your brain in adolescence. Do you want to hard-wire it for sports and playing music and doing mathematics–or for lying on the couch in front of the television'” (www.actforyouth.net). I spent plenty of time in front of the television as a teenager. Quite simply, if there is a TV in your house your kid will find it, but I was fortunate that my parents kept me active. Running cross-country, joining swim team, engaging in martial arts, and playing lacrosse all challenged my brain with fine-motor skills and complex problem solving.

I am the person I am today because my mind was challenged when I was younger. Now all I need to do is make sure to file my latest driving escapade in a part of my brain that I can easily access so I avoid the same mistake in the future.

Cheers,
Gordon

Poor Decisions part one

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Much to my dismay, every day I grow older my parents get smarter. Even today at twenty-two years old I am still getting owned by their wealth of life experiences.

After three days stuck in the house during Atlanta’s most recent snowstorm the walls were closing in on me. I decided to leave the house and go to the bank and the grocery store. In my mind these were critical errands that needed doing. My mom disagreed. We both knew that the roads around the house were still icy but I was determined to travel on.

1998 Jeep Cherokee

1998 Jeep Cherokee

Convinced of my ability to drive slowly on icy roads I sauntered out to my car. The whole while my mother was probably thinking, “he has no idea what he is getting himself into.” I did not know what I was getting into. She did because she was born on Long Island, NY and knows how difficult icy hills can be.

On the third attempt I escaped my driveway and started towards my old elementary school on the way to the bank. All the while going about five miles per hour. I meandered down a slight hill while the back end of my Jeep slowly swayed from side to side on the icy road.

Turning left at the stop sign I had to go up. This did not go well. In fact it took me two tries to crest the hill. The whole while thinking to myself, “I’ve got this,” but of course what goes up must go down. Down was not fun. My foot pushed firmly on the brake as I imperceptibly slid down the hill. The grade was not terrible and the road leveled out but there was a second decline that was much steeper. I was never getting down that hill safely. My brain finally made the connection that my mom made twenty minutes earlier, “you have no idea what you’ve gotten yourself into.” I finally listened and pulled the car to the side of the road, popped the e-break, locked the doors, and walked home.

So now my beloved Jeep is stuck a half mile away from home and I might not get it back home until Saturday. All I had to do to avoid this situation was listen to my mom’s passive agressive way of telling me I should stay in. “Gordon, you know the roads are pretty icy” = “Gordon you are absolutely clueless and while I will not force you to stay in I will laugh hysterically when you realize how deep you’ve stepped into the #@$*.”

Fortunately my poor decision is not a total loss because I get to explain why I made such a poor decision. Check the blog tomorrow for Part Two of “Poor Decisions” for a little insight into the adolescent brain and how coaches and parents can use this insight when dealing with young players.

Cheers,
Gordon