So I just finished up another US Training weekend in Baltimore. Since getting back to the west coast, I’ve had some time to pause and reflect on my journey as a goalie. I’ve come a long ways since the softball player turned lacrosse goalie as a High School freshman, I only wish I knew then what I know now. Below are 5 things I would go back and tell myself with the knowledge that I have now!
1) Hard Work Always Pays Off. Always.
I’ve always struggled with the little idea in the back of my head of “What if?” Frankly, I think we all do. What if I do all of this hard work and I don’t see results? What if I run every day and I don’t get faster or more in shape? What if I study hard and still fail the test? For some reason as humans we have this negative perception that if we work hard, there’s still some chance for it not paying off.
Well, one thing that I’ve learned is that hard work always pays off. It may not happen today, tomorrow or in a week or a month, but habitual hard work ALWAYS pays off. You will get faster, stronger and more fit. You will LEARN (after all, isn’t that the ultimate goal, not some score on a piece of paper) and you will achieve your goals. The key here is consistency and patience. As the old saying goes, “No one ever said it would be easy, they just said it would be worth it.”
I’ve personally gone through my own battles the past year. I’ve finally committed myself to working out hard, almost every day, and getting my diet on track. Now no, I don’t eat chicken and veggies every day, I do have slip ups, and sometimes I go days (gasp!) without working out. I didn’t get faster over night, but you know what? Compared to 6 months ago I am stronger and more fit. I’m not where I want to be, yet. But I am getting there, and I am improving. The process is what we should be constantly evaluating, not the result. I know that my hard work will pay off, and you should have that belief, too!
2) No One Else Is Watching. No Really… No One Else Is Watching.
One of the hardest things to get over as a player is messing up. We think that the world is watching us. When we let that goal in, throw that ball away or do something silly, we think that everyone knows and is judging us. We’re so focused on ourselves that we fail to play to our highest potential.
But think about this… when you’re playing, do you get angry when your teammate misses a slide? Or when they miss a ground ball? Maybe momentarily at best, but you certainly don’t remember it for the rest of the game. Well guess what? Your teammates are the exact same way. Everyone else is generally too concerned with themselves to care about your mistakes. So why do we let ourselves care, when we know that we wouldn’t care if it was someone else?
Perspective is key. We all make mistakes. Don’t let your own mistakes snowball into more because of some misconception that the world is watching… because they’re not!
3) Play Free- Remember, It’s Just a Game
Often times when I’m super nervous or worried about something, I like to play a little game of “What’s so bad about that?” It helps me keep things in perspective, after all lacrosse is just a game. Many things in life, actually, really aren’t as important as we make them out to be. A way to remove the stress and nerves is to identify what’s really at the root of your problem. Example from this past weekend of mine:
Situation: 1st shot of the game
Worst Case Scenario: Not making many the save
What’s so bad about that?: Look bad in front of teammates (who may not think I am as good as I believe I am to be) and coaches (who may not think I’m good enough to make the team)
What’s so bad about that? Teammates might not want to play hard for me any longer, Coaches may cut me from the team
What’s so bad about that? I no longer can play on the US team
What’s so bad about that? My identity as a person no longer exists
What’s so bad about that? I have to redefine who I am
As you can see… this get pretty extreme pretty fast. But even the end result… isn’t really that bad. I’m not dying, I didn’t lose my friends, I still have my job, family etc. I simply, wouldn’t be able to play on the US team. Now yes, that sucks. It does change my world a lot. But, in the grand scheme of life, it’s not the end of the world. Here are few things to think about:
Chances of my teammates/coaches not thinking I am as good as I think I am after ONE shot? Or even one drill, or one practice? Slim. Everyone makes mistakes and I have yet to meet a goalie that has a perfect save percentage (or shot percentage, have perfect slides, etc). Keep this in perspective and pick the ball out of the back of the net and move on. There’s nothing that says you can’t make the next save just because you let in the first one. You control your future.
Getting cut? I still have my pro team, adult leagues, coaching opportunities, etc. Just because ONE avenue closes doesn’t mean that lacrosse can’t still exist in my life. Just to be clear, I wouldn’t be the slightest bit happy if I got cut BUT I know that I would still survive and move on. Humans are resilient, trust even in the worst case you’ll find your own path.
So, knowing all of this, having this information and perspective, I can remove that stress. If I let the goal in, so what? I’ll get the next one. Knowing the absolute worst (and wildest) outcome can help you remove that stress. At the end of the day, it is just a game. So HAVE FUN.
4) Nerves Mean You Care
Going off of my last point, one of the craziest things I have noticed is that the nerves I had in tryouts as a freshman in high school, still exist at the National Team level. Even though I’ve been playing on and off for almost 20 years, I’ve been on the team for 5 years, I still get nervous. I hear the word run test and I get tight. But you know what? That means I still care. I still get a thrill out of the sport. It isn’t just something I do to pass time. The nerves are a good sign for me. Feeling those butterflies in my stomach before a big game is a sign to me that my body is acting how it should. The day I don’t get nervous and my body doesn’t react that way is the day I will retire. Embrace those feelings, it means you’re on the right track!
5) Failure Is A Success
Last, but not least, I’ve always found it hard to get over failures. Whether it’s getting cut from a team, receiving a bad grade on a test, or anything else in life, it’s hard to move forward. One thing that I’ve learned throughout my years of playing though, is that every failure is a success. It’s a success in the sense that you have added more information to your arsenal. You now know what doesn’t work, which is almost more powerful than knowing what does work. Sometimes when you’re successful, it happens by accident or you overlook the process that you took to get there.
Failure on the other hand, requires you to observe and really dive into what happened. You are forced to be aware of your actions and figure out the WHY behind your “failure”. All of this is awesome because the more you know, the more likely you’ll succeed. One of my favorite Michael Jordan quotes reflects on this exact process, “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
So, next time you let a goal go in, or don’t do as well as you had hoped, realize that while it may be a failure, it is merely a step on the road to success. Use it as a learning tool, as a success in your books. That’s one less failure you have to endure before you can be the best you.
I hope you are able to capitalize on these 5 thoughts sooner than I was able to! Remember, everyone is a beginner at some point, but you have the ability within yourself to reach your highest potential and be whoever you want to be!
2Lacrosse Founder and Owner
Hope this helps, and remember, if you have any questions, send them our way by submitting a question to our Question Bin- HERE!