By Cindy Wilson, Head Coach, Millersville University @VilleMauauders
“On your best days you learn confidence. On your worst days you learn persistence. There is always something to learn.”
One of my favorite things about sports, and more specifically, about lacrosse is that there is always room to grow and develop. X’s and O’s and wins and losses are important pieces of the game, but the life lessons that shape us are of even greater value. Whether you are a student-athlete just picking up a stick for the first time or a veteran coach, there is always something more to learn.
Confidence gives us the fuel to continue to grow. When we see success in something, we are motivated to do more. Think back to the first goal that you scored or the first ball that you caught. Did you have a moment where you realized, “I can do this?” This realization spurs us on to try bigger and better things – threading the needle on a feed, going for the interception, or working on your behind the back passes. We push our limits and reach new heights.
As a team, we talk a lot about how confidence comes from preparation. Just like fitness, strength, and stick skills, confidence is a skill that we have to exercise. If you know that you have put in the work and studied for a test, then you feel much more confident to take that test. When you step out on to the field, it’s important as a player or coach to feel confident that you have prepared yourself to be there. Trust in yourself that you’ve done the work.
While confidence certainly helps us to develop, perhaps persistence is an even better catalyst for growth. We are always going to face situations in life and sport that are going to challenge and surprise us. It is in these moments that we learn the most. When we are forced out of our normal comfort zone, we can truly learn what we are capable of. From getting beat on defense to a heartbreaking OT loss, there is always something we can take from those moments to help improve our skills. Success in those moments is not defined by whether or not we made the “right” decision, but instead by how we choose to respond to the situation. If you fall, it’s about getting back up again and being able to make the adjustment to move forward.
Sometimes these challenges might feel like a setback. For example, if you have ever been sidelined due to an injury. It’s tough to not have the ability to be out on the field, but we can take it as an opportunity to learn. Can we take something from it to make us better? Can you use this new perspective to be a student of the game and apply what you learn when you are back on the field? Can you help to push and support your teammates to give them the confidence they need as well?
Remember, there are always new things to learn. Don’t be afraid of it. Instead, embrace it. Push yourself to try new things and take on different challenges. By doing so, you are not only helping yourself but also pushing those around you.