A Coaches Guide for Getting Re-Inspired
Maybe re-inspired is the wrong word. Re-energized? Refreshed? Restored? It’s like when the season is over in May, and however good or bad it went – you need a break. Maybe you get away for a vacation before camps start. Maybe you throw your Krossover and its login information into the back of the closet and go outside and feel the breeze without wearing an athletic-inscribed jacket. Except – and here’s the catch! – we’re just starting April.
The grind continues. You wake up, you’re tired, your team is a bit tired, you crossed off another couple games last week, and you’re back at the desk preparing film for this week’s matchups. It’s like the movie Groundhogs Day, only with lacrosse involved (and thankfully for us in Florida, way less snow), so still way cooler, but a repeat of the usual suspects nonetheless. And while watching another semi-conservative man-to-man defense in front of another tall, righty goalie who is pretty decent low still qualifies as a HECK of a full-time job, the question looms: how do I keep this funky fresh for my squad? How do we fight to stay engaged even though we all share in a common goal that we are truly passionate about? There’s only so many ways to make transition drills fun in practice after all!
Below I’ve outlined some of the ways that I like to keep my staff and my team trudging up the mid-season mountain with a smile on our faces, and without too many energy drinks. Those are bad for you anyways.
- Spend time as a team, during lacrosse hours, and surprise them with no lacrosse. I know – you need to practice – we all do. But one day isn’t going to break your season. Throw them in the school pool, if you have one! It’s fun to watch them tread water as you toss lacrosse balls in for them to catch. Make sure you have a lifeguard handy – I have an All-American shooter who sinks to the bottom like a rock. Other ways: A Home Run Derby, Spikeball, Spelling Bee (seriously – the list of 8th grade words is ridiculous), Dodgeball, Ultimate Frisbee, Water Balloon Fight – I could go on forever. Keep it competitive, let ‘em draft their own teams before they know what the event is, and sit back and watch hilarity ensue.
- Coaches – Go Workout! I know, this one might not work for us all, but both my assistant and I are INFINITELY happier (thus, making for a happier team) when we walk out of the office for one hour and get our own sweats on. Tay likes to fight in some crazy boxing gym, and I go to OrangeTheory. We write on the dry erase board that we are out taking care of #1, and we do just that. When we come back to the office, we are focused, the endorphins are cranking, and things get done. We also tend to be more creative with our practice plans and jump around practice a lot more. It’s like living at home – if mama’s happy, everyone’s happy!
- Hit the Exchange, and watch someone’s else’s team for a while. Maybe they run a defensive system similar to yours, and you want to pull some creativity from that. Maybe it’s completely different, and you enjoy turning your brain off for a while to see something you haven’t been living day in and day out. Maybe you’re winless on the year and you just really want to watch some Maryland Terrapins or Stony Brook Seawolves action to keep your eye on the prize: good lacrosse is out there, and it’s always just right in front of you if you’re ready to keep fighting for it. The best way we have found to shake things up on the field is to throw in a ‘ripple’, a ‘tweak’, a ‘wave’ – here’s something different, it works with our style, now go out and have fun! They’ll never know you got it from a fully-funded squad in a different division – haha.
- Get a Better Feng Shui on in your life – I usually save this one for the end of the year. During the recruiting summer, I rip everything off the walls, I take all of the desks and electronics out, I clean it from top to bottom, and then I set up a completely brand-new office. But if you find yourself in a particularly perilous case of the every-day-drearies, go nuts in the room you spend roughly 80% of your life in in the spring. Change out some lightbulbs (ask for help/permission perhaps on this one). Throw something in there that makes you happy, get some cool new wall art, set up a basket with snacks that you can crush whenever you want (then: see #2). We got a fun rug and a game day countdown timer this fall that really just added to our space. When it’s feeling new, inviting, and fun – you don’t mind being there as much. And you’re much more productive. (Side note – others won’t want to leave either, which can make working difficult. Proceed with caution.)
- Play Lacrosse. Seriously, try it again. Last one, because this is getting long. But when was the last time you got out and played the sport you coach day in and out? If you’re older and a parent like me, you don’t have free time for that: you have your college kids, then you need to go home and see your actual children.
But to remember what it’s like to be a player again really is amazing. If your joints hurt, go out and play some wall ball like you did in college with the earbuds in. If you’re feeling up for it, grab your staff and hit the turf for a shoot-around, a quick pick-up game (complete with mini-sticks and a mini-net, all man-down style!), or some Power and Finesse where you can repeatedly look at your stick like it’s broken whenever you rip one wide. Don’t deny it – we all do it. You’ll remember huffing and puffing through a game in the midfield again and why you fell in love with the idea of coaching as a profession in the first place.
Hopefully, with some of these in tow, you can put the film-induced headache pain relievers away (hello, Tylenol!) and tuck that under-eye cream back into the bathroom cabinet where it belongs. If you’re winning – keep it up, coach! If you’re slumping – your team needs you, and you need to figure out how to right the ship. You took this job to change lives and to have fun doing it. Remember at the end of the day, this needs to be fun; even when it doesn’t feel like it. Instead of doing the same ol’ warmup today at practice, go out and throw a water balloon at your sassy draw control kid. Then show the team the bucket of the rest of them all filled up and ready, right behind you.
Bring it on, April.