It's easy to lose sight of the little things in lacrosse amid all the instruction, practicing and games. But as Coach Gafner, lacrosse coach and author of CoachGafner.com, points out, sometimes those little things go a long way in making a better player. Here are five things Gafner thinks players need to consider as they work to improve their lacrosse performance:
As you enter this season you have to have the right attitude. You have to be willing to learn and ready to listen. If you have the right attitude, you will do a lot more of the small things without knowing it. I have one player on my team last year that had the best attitude. It took me over a year to realize that it was his attitude that was the reason for his improvement.
If you are willing to put in the hard work, then the results will show. A part of your work ethic is practicing the right way. You need to be aware of the time you have to get better and use it well. I understand you have a lot going on with your life, but when you make time to practice or have practice, use that time to the fullest.
Last year at the start of my season the guys on my team wanted to goof around a lot. I didn't mind it sometimes. But they didn't want to goof around during a drill or a time when we had to be productive. Some of the biggest improvers on my team last year were players that had a great work ethic. So, adjust your work ethic to make the most of this season.
Ability to Understand the Game
A problem with a lot of new teams or teams that aren't on the east coast or teams that aren't successful is they just don't understand the game that well. Everyone that plays lacrosse should always be learning about the game.
That goes for coaches too. To understand it, you have to learn why teams do things. For a lot of newer and unsuccessful teams, they don't understand the right way to play the game because they don't have the talent or personality to play lacrosse the right way. So, the first thing to do to understand the game is to ask questions to other coaches or players.
After that, watch a lot of lacrosse games to analyze what the teams are doing and why. And if you do understand the game pretty well, you need to help your teammates get a better grasp.
This is another area that you can always improve your game by being a better communicator. It is easy to think for yourself, but to play team defense takes a lot of work and communication. This communication develops on the practice field and translates to the game field the better you are at it.
I also think you need to work on your communication with your coaches too. If you don't understand something they want you to get, talk to them about it when they have free time. They will help, because they are teaching you something for a reason--which is to improve your game and help the team win.
If you communicate with your teammates off the field, your team will get better faster. Keep the communication lines open so that your teammates know they can call on you for help, too.
Don't Take Things Personal
Trust me--a good coach should tell you things that are going to make you mad. But, do not take it personal. As a coach I do want the players to like me--that's how I get them to push it when practice is rough. But some players need to hear things about their game.
For example, I always tell players to scoop a ground ball with two hands. We had a couple of kids I will yell at about this. I hope they didn't take it personal. I was just trying to make them and the team better. This is a good thing to know: you kids might think us coaches are out to get you but we aren't. We just want to help.
Try to improve in these five areas and I know your lacrosse game will improve greatly. But, you have to bring the same passion to these five tips, if you want them to work.