I think it is safe to say that when someone asks the question, “why are you involved in lacrosse?” a popular answer may be “well, because I love it.” That is why I’m involved in this beautiful game. I absolutely love it, and I have a blast being involved in it. I love the speed, I love the skill, but most of all, I love the relationships and experiences it has given me.
But if love is at the core of why we are involved, then why do we let outside factors affect it so much? Why do we let scholarship offers, playing time, or wins and losses get in the way of enjoying every second we are lucky enough to play, coach, or watch this awesome game? Don’t get me wrong; I am an extremely competitive person. I always strive to be my best, and let’s not kid ourselves, winning is pretty great. But when an outside factor is driving our happiness, I think we set ourselves up for failure.
Let’s look at a college lacrosse season:
At most, a team can have up to 5 days of competition in the fall, 17 regular season games, 3 conference championship games, and 5 NCAA games. If a team is lucky enough to play for the National Championship, and have a few more weeks of practice, over the course of the school year they could have around 150 practices in the fall and spring seasons (very rough guess but we’ll go with it because it makes the math easier!). With those numbers, scrimmages and games account for only 20% of the entire year.
If a player is only concerned about being a starter or the playing time they receive, they are missing out on roughly 80% of their college lacrosse experience. Wow. I do understand that this may be hard at times due to our competitive nature as well as a variety of other factors outside of our control. So let’s make it simple and focus on three things.
- Be present.
- Have fun.
Being present sounds simple but we all know it is much harder than that. We all have distractions and it is very easy to get preoccupied with the future. But if we constantly look to the future we never truly enjoy the present. So when you are at practice, be at practice. If you focus on the drill at hand, the play at hand, it will allow you to be more engaged and ultimately, a better player and teammate.
As a competitive person myself, I know that improvement can be tricky. When we want to be our best, it is easy to strive for perfection. It is important to understand that improvement does not mean perfection. A lot of times, it means the opposite. In order to improve you have to be willing to make mistakes. You have to be willing to try new things. A lot of times it means getting worse before getting better. With improvement, it is also important to think small. Focus on one thing, in one drill, in one practice, to improve upon. It does not have to be an all or nothing mentality. As my friend Jon Gordon and I discuss, it is getting just 1% better every single day. If you can improve by 1% everyday you will not only help yourself, but more importantly, you will help your team.
Lastly and most importantly, let us remember that this game is FUN! So let loose, joke around with your teammates, and cherish the time that you have the privilege to be involved in this game. When you look back on your experience with lacrosse, you want it to be with joy, gratitude and love. It’s up to you to create your own experience so go ahead and create it! When the hard days come (which they will) try not to get bogged down in negativity or fear of what you can’t control, just ask yourself the simple question:
Why do you play?