True laxers know the game requires intense mental strategy and physical strength. As you prepare for a game during practice, bring your mental toughness to each session, just as you do for your body. Consider these lacrosse that’ll put you in a winning state of mind.
Visualize Your Wins
Michael Jordan didn’t play lacrosse, but the world's greatest basketball star knows about mental preparation. According to the book “For the Love of the Game: My Story,” one of Jordan's methods of playing involved sitting on the bench. He would visualize himself dribbling, dunking and passing, which helped him to see himself as the winner he would be.
In lacrosse, take the time at the beginning and end of each practice session to sit and visualize yourself playing across the field. Incorporate ideas and techniques you have learned and honed during practice, like the shot-turn if you are a goalie. By connecting muscle and mind, you create muscle memory that will help you automatically move into the scoring or defensive positions when on the field. By moving faster, both physically and mentally, this can be the difference between being a mediocre lacrosse player in New England, and a rising super star.
Stay in “Pollyanna” Mode
Be “Pollyanna” when you play lacrosse, which means to keep a positive outlook on the game. Focus on visualizing the positives of scoring a goal or taking successful shots. Avoid any negative thinking. It will adversely affect your mood and attitude, as well as shrink your self-confidence. Aim high with your mental preparation, striving to be the best player that you can be. By giving your self a personal goal of greatness, your mind will be set to push your body when the going gets tough.
Mental Warm-Up Routine
Just as with any physical activity, you need to have a mental warm-up routine. In lacrosse, a holistic training session and practice should include mental warm-ups along with your strength training and speed drills. Some Northeast lacrosse players find that listening to fast-paced music helps to energize the mind before a game. Other players feel that having solitude and silence helps them to prepare, especially when it comes to mental preparation. Look for the mental warm-up that works best for you by trying different techniques prior to games. Along with whichever mental warm-up routine you apply to your personal game, incorporate visualizations of your shots and moves as part of your mental warm-up.
Get in the Game
When you are in the game, it is time to focus. Avoid thinking through your moves and plays at this point in the game. Even though you are going to be spending a large percentage of your time alone on the field, you are still part of a team. If you are constantly turning your focus to what you should be, could be, or need to be doing rather than actually playing, you are short-cutting yourself and your team. According to New York State head coach Brooks Sweet, "Players have to approach every one-on-one and two-on-two drill as if they were down by a goal with two minutes left in the game.”
The mental prep you did during practices and your warm-up session will put you where you need to be for the actual game. That is why it is so important to follow through with the previous tips regarding mental preparation. Keep your focus on the current game, moving forward and making defensive or offensive corrections as you play. Your coach and fellow teammates will most likely address any game play concerns or mistakes they have during practices, which will be the time you can use to improve your shots and handling.
These are just a few ways to boost your mental toughness for the game. For more ways to improve your game, visit the lacrosse tips section of our blog. Play on!