Tag Archives: lesson

Why Kids Should Take Care Of Fish

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I know what you’re thinking. How am I going to link caring for fish to lacrosse? Well, here I go:

I was in fifth grade when I started taking care of a few freshwater fish in a tiny ten gallon aquarium. My first fish was a little catfish that zoomed to the side of the tank and swam erratically against the glass when it saw it’s reflection. I named it Frisky.

As I got older I went to a twenty gallon, and finally a forty gallon aquarium through most of high school. I kept Frisky, the algae eater, Spot, and most all of my fish alive for a good six or seven years. I did this by reading up on how to keep a freshwater aquarium ecosystem running well. I changed the water regularly, kept the light on a timer, and did not overfeed the fish. At a young age I learned how to care for an entire group of small creatures that relied on me. I also learned that small mistakes repeated over time can drastically harm the tiny ecosystem.

The smaller the ecosystem the greater the impact of every change so it is important to make very small changes. This same principle applies to a youth lacrosse team of 18-22 players. If a coach wants to change many things at the same time the team’s players will not respond well. Say you want your players to throw better checks, break down better, have better footwork, and slide better. If you try to teach all of that at the same time you will fail. The team ecosystem will break down with the flood of too much new or different information. Instead, institute your changes gradually. One week just work on better footwork. The next, better checking. Over time your team will improve defensively because you broke down a big change – Better Defense – into a bunch of smaller, easily digestible, changes.

Another lesson I learned from fish is that you cannot introduce new fish into your tank by just pouring them in. When you get a fish from the store, the employee puts the fish into a small bag in the water it is used to swimming in. That water is different from your aquarium water in chemical levels and temperature. Imagine how you would react if a stranger picked you up from school, drove you a distance you couldn’t measure, and then left you at a new school in a different state. You might be a little shocked.

The correct way to bring in new fish is to float the bag in your water so the temperature equalizes. After fifteen minutes, pour a little bit of your water into the new fish bag so the shock is lessened. Then use a fish net to scoop up the little fish and gently deposit him in your aquarium. The fish will be less shocked, and you don’t have to worry about introducing a bag worth of store aquarium water into your aquarium.

Players must understand that they will not get better after one practice or one game. You can’t shock your system into learning anything. Just as coaches must be gradual in teaching new concepts, players must take a consistent approach to learning new skills. If you want to get better at winning face offs, you don’t try to master every face off move at the same time. Remember what Bruce Lee famously said, “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” Get really good at the basics, and then add to your skill set slowly and consistently. If you do that, the only person getting shocked by your skills will be your opponent.

The last reason I have for young players taking care of fish ties in with the main AYL message: Player Responsibility. We put a huge emphasis on players at every age level to be responsible for their gear and their practice off the field. Our staff does not like seeing players handing their gear to their mom or dad for the short walk to their car. It is your gear, you wear it, you carry it.

The trouble with responsibility is that kids have to be given something to be responsible for, and adults can never be sure how the kid will handle it until given the chance. That is why caring for one or more fish in a tiny aquarium is an awesome way to teach kids responsibility. You can get small aquariums for very cheap, and freshwater neons cost less than $2 per fish! If a fish dies the parent isn’t out a bunch of money, and neons are not tough to keep alive because they are hardy little guys.

The young player taking care of fish learns how to take care of creatures that are completely dependent on the young player for their survival. That is a huge lesson in responsibility for a kid, and if the kid fails early on you get a few more cheap fish and try again. Very little is at stake, but the kid learns how to be more responsible, and if they demonstrate the responsibility to take care of a few fish then they prove to the adults that they can take on more important tasks.

Alright! Fish to lacrosse link accomplished! I wonder what other obscure non-lacrosse related things I can link to lacrosse…

Cheers,
Gordon Corsetti

Earn Your Ending

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I had the exciting opportunity to watch the NCAA 2011 Wrestling Championships. The lead in to the championships was a wrestling/writing commercial, narrated by author John Irving. While it is specifically about wrestling, you could substitute the hard work it takes to succeed at any sport, and still maintain the narrative of success through dedicated training. Watch the video below and be inspired to earn your ending.

 

Cheers,
Gordon

This Too Shall Pass

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Many, many years ago there lived a rich and powerful king. He was the most dominant ruler in all of the land, and he was faithfully attended by his personal servant, Mono. Mono was an exceptional servant. Earning his service to the king by accomplishing every task assigned to him. This made Mono a very arrogant man. He believed that he could do anything so long as he applied himself in his duties. The king knew Mono was arrogant, and it amused him to play a small prank on his servant.

The entire kingdom was readying for the harvest festival, the biggest festival of the year. Mono was diligently preparing the royal celebrations when the king called him into the throne room. Mono rushed to the side of his king and the king commanded,

“Mono, my faithful servant, in all of your years of service you have never failed to do anything I command. So I command you to find a magical ring that makes a sad man happy and a happy man sad. I must have this ring in my possession before the harvest festival begins.”

Mono accepted the assignment with confidence, but the king was laughing to himself because no such ring existed. The king wanted to humble Mono by searching for a ring that he could not find.

My Precious

My Precious

So Mono went out of the palace and into the city searching every jeweler and questioning every ring-maker. All the salesman professed no knowledge of a magic ring with the power to make a sad man happy and a happy man sad. Undeterred, Mono left the city and traveled to the surrounding villages, but no matter where he looked the ring could not be found.

He searched for the next three months to no avail. Before Mono knew it, it was the night before the harvest festival and he made no progress in finding the magic ring. At a loss, Mono wandered into the poor district on the outskirts of the city. He walked down the streets aimlessly, wondering how his king could forgive him for failing his command. In deep though, Mono barely noticed the old man that walked in front of his path.

The two men collided and fell to the ground. Mono cursed under his breath and helped the old man up while apologizing for running into him, since he was troubled by difficult thoughts. The old man asked if he could help Mono calm his mind. Mono replied,

“The king commanded me to find a magic ring that makes a sad man happy and a happy man sad. I have searched over the entire kingdom these last three months and I have no idea where this ring could be. I must now go before the king and tell him I failed.”

The old man chuckled and said,

“A ring that does that would be magical indeed. Fortune made you run into me this night, for I know of such a ring.”

Mono was stunned and asked where the ring could be found. The old man sat down, grabbed a small piece of wood and a carving knife and began cutting the wood into the shape of a ring. When the ring was finished, the old man carved a small inscription on the outside of the ring and handed it to Mono.

Mono looked at the ring dubiously, wondering if he had been duped by a silly old man. Then he read the inscription and his face lit up in understanding. This was the magical ring his king commanded him to find! He excitedly thanked the old man and raced back to the palace. Hoping to be there in time for the opening ceremonies of the festival.

The king was preparing for the start of the festival, but his faithful servant Mono was nowhere to be found. The king chuckled, thinking to himself that Mono would finally be humbled by not finishing a task commanded to him. Then all of a sudden, the throne room doors burst open and Mono ran to the king’s side.

“My Liege, I found the magical ring that makes a sad man happy and a happy man sad!”

The king was stunned speechless. Mono handed the open-mouthed king the ring and told him to read the inscription. The king peered at the simple wooden ring and saw the carved words: This Too Shall Pass. Suddenly, the king became very sad. Because after reading those words he realized all of his power and riches would one day be gone.

This Too Shall Pass. It is a simple phrase that can humble a person during a moment of pride, or help a person through the depths of torment.

I want every player to sear those four words into their brains. Every win will pass. Every tie will pass. Every loss will pass. Do not allow an undefeated season make you prideful, and do not allow a devastating loss to consume your life. Anytime you feel too happy about a win or too sad about a loss, remember that everything passes with time.

The greatest lesson in youth sports is that winning and losing do not matter. What matters is the fight you give during those wins and losses.

If you want more information on winning, tying, and losing, check out these posts:

Featured Image Credit – www.tuborg.deviantart.com

Cheers,
Gordon