When I played lacrosse in high school I had to make sure I had shorts to change into before practice. There were a few times I forgot to pack shorts in my bag, and I wasn’t about to ask my teammates if they had extra shorts because I created this problem by not packing my shorts. Plus who wants to wear someone else’s shorts?
When I first made this mistake I tried to think of a quick solution other than running in my khakis. Then I remembered that I always kept a roll of duct tape in my car’s emergency care kit. I rolled the legs of my pants up to just above my knees and then wrapped duct tape around the rolled up pant leg so they wouldn’t roll down after a minute of running.
I geared up and practiced wearing rolled up beige khakis. Of course I was embarrassed and uncomfortable, but not as uncomfortable as I would be practicing without the pant legs rolled up. Everybody and my coach knew I made a mistake, but no one said a word about my peculiar attire because I was out there with a solution and not an excuse. Since then I’ve come to the conclusion that if there is a mistake or a problem that I am the cause of, it is better if I get out ahead of the problem. The only thing worse than making a mistake is not having a possible way to fix it. It doesn’t matter if it is a good fix, but you better have something.
In my senior year I again forgot my shorts, but I still had duct tape and I repeated the same procedure (this time with jeans!). A sophomore also forgot his shorts and tried to tell our coach that he couldn’t practice because he didn’t have shorts. I’m warming up for practice and coach yelled out, “The only player who can show up without shorts is Corsetti!” I had a good chuckle at that, but that illustrates the same mistake with two different reactions: I had a solution and could practice, while the sophomore had an excuse and could not practice.
I interact with kids of all ages throughout the season and I get a lot of the same questions:
- “Do you have any string?”
- “Do you have a screwdriver?”
- “I forgot something do you have extra equipment?”
What do I look like a Brine sales rep? A 100-foot length of string can be bought at Home Depot for a couple bucks. Add in one roll of duct tape and scissors and players can handle 98% of all equipment issues they may have without having to look to an adult to help.
I want kids to solve their own problems and then ask for help if they’ve exhausted the critical thinking skills they are developing. The only way they get a chance to solve problems is if we adults get out of the way. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve given a roll of duct tape to a middle school kid to tape up his butt end when no other tape is available, and the kid asks me where the scissors are.
What do you need scissors for? The scissors are for cutting string. Use your hands to tear the duct tape! Your hands are amazing instruments that are capable of manipulating objects. Need to rip duct tape? There’s an app for that called “Hands!”
Ok, vent over, but the point is valid. In order to fix something you need to be able to inventory the materials immediately available to you. One of my Mom’s favorite shows growing up was MacGyver. In each episode he solved difficult problems using his imagination, ingenuity, critical thinking, and elbow grease. In fact, MacGyvering something is being “creative in solving problems using household items.”
So young players out there if you make a mistake off the field or on the field don’t immediately look for an excuse to absolve yourself of your mistake. Instead, try to think hard about how to fix your mistake and then own up to it. Tell whoever is in charge that you screwed up, but then explain how you think you can best fix the problem. If you learn how to do this at a young age you’ll be well prepared for when you make a mistake working in your real-world job. Explaining to your boss that you screwed up is never a fun thing, but you can lessen the anguish by having a potential solution in your back-pocket.
Now watch MacGyver escape and beat the bad guys using some quick thinking!