The season ended and I finally had time to sit down and reflect on our past season which was an amazing one. We finished 9-7, and for the first time in my coaching career there wasn’t a hint of relief that our season was over or that I would finally be able to have somewhat of a regular day to day schedule. I thought to myself – if we had one more month together, we would have done something amazing, I just know it. But instead we peaked a little too late in season and here I am writing this, hoping you can sit back and enjoy this article.
When I think back to the previous season I had in 2017-2018, we went through a lot of adversity – a popular term in athletics but it’s true. I was hired late as the new head women’s lacrosse coach. Start date was Friday, September 1, and we started fall ball season Tuesday September 5. There wasn’t a gap period to get to know each other before the first practice, not to mention classes were already in full swing. There was also promises made from the previous coach that unfortunately could not be honored by me as the new coach, and lastly there was a culture we needed to change. We finished the season 7-10, 5-3 in conference, and we really were just middle of the pack in our conference. When we had our player meetings for returners – we were honest, upfront, and realized the biggest issue was our confidence. Confidence in what our coaches were saying, confidence in our teammates, and most importantly, confidence in ourselves.
Heading into summer it was nice to get a break, get re-energized, and get excited to come back in the fall ready to take on the season. The team felt the same way, we were organized, worked hard in the weight room, and worked extremely hard at practice. The reason I attest to all of this is the team was seeing positive results because we spent time building their confidence. As a coaching staff we focused on pumping them up in everything that we did. We focused on celebrating every little victory and told them to recognize when they were not doing something because they lacked confidence in their ability or didn’t want to look “stupid” doing it.
To take us back at little, I thought about when I was in college or even high school and how I didn’t do some things because I didn’t want to be embarrassed if it turned out bad for me. I think how silly I was that it made me stand on the sidelines or be a spectator in some really fun events in my life. Now at the age of 30 I care less about validation and more about really doing whatever I want to do because I want to do it. I also think the way society “validates” your social standing is different now than when I was growing up and in college. I graduated in 2011, and Instagram was just getting popular since it had just been created in October 2010 – but now that’s all different. Kids seek validations in the number of “likes” they get on Twitter, Instagram, etc. If they don’t get 250 likes, they think they failed at a post. I have seen my team spend (honestly) more than 20 minutes trying to come up with the perfect caption for the post or ask others to come up with a catchy phrase to associate with their picture! It blows my mind because I thought it used to be if you get past seeing the names of people who like your photo, meaning 10 likes or more, that you posted something good. Now my team laughs at my most likes of 130, maybe 132? Dang social media is rough.
My point is – growing confidence is and was a very important reason why we were more successful than the previous season. Especially coaching females, I reminded them daily maybe even 4-5 times just how great they were as a person, as a female and player in our program. In individual meetings we talked about how to build their confidence in everything they do. In our team huddles, I reiterated to them how we belonged in every single one of these games – that we weren’t middle of the pack anymore. We spent hours meeting with our captains explaining to them that if they lacked confidence it would spread to the rest of the team. I told them wherever we walked, we held our heads high. If we went down in a game and I noticed heads being hung – I instantly called a time out and we discussed having confidence in our body language. It wasn’t to try to tie the game as soon as possible, but to be confident to close the gap by getting maybe two or three more goals before the half so that we went into the half down by two – not by five. When we went out for team dinners or had our banquet, I complimented how pretty they looked or if I liked their outfit choice or acknowledged how they did academically. It honestly goes a long way – and you will see the change in everything they do. When they give a presentation for class, when they try something new at practice, when they look themselves in the mirror, how they walk, talk and hold themselves – you will see their confidence growing.
So, grow it, watch it spread, and see the power of what even the littlest bit of confidence can do!