From US Lacrosse, By Kate Hickman
Ringing in the new year means that the spring lacrosse season is around the corner. With that comes the pressure of your running tests and the return of that voice in your head, asking, “Will I make the team this year? Will I win the starting position? Will be selected as captain?”
As you make resolutions, specify some toward the sport you love. Two months is a perfect window to prepare for any major sporting event, so no matter where you see yourself now, you have time to get where you need and want to be. All you need is the right plan to get you there.
The first step is to set goals that will motivate and encourage you to work hard every day. Make sure these goals aren’t too lofty or too easy. Either extreme can hinder your improvement. Finding the perfect balance of challenging yet attainable goals is an intentional process.
Identify where you hope to be or what you hope to attain by the end of the season. Maybe it is to earn a starting position, to have a shooting or save percentage above 60 percent, to make all-county, all-region or All-American. Start broad and then work backward to define how to reach these goals. Setting long-term goals first will guide you in your short-term goals and daily preparation.
Enter each game (and practice) with specific, measurable short-term goals. These goals should center equally around your strengths and weakness. Avoid statistically driven goals like, “Score five goals,” by using percentage-driven goals like, “Shoot 60 percent.”
Short-term goals should also address weaknesses. Some examples: “Use my left hand,” or “Never turn my back to the ball,” or “Be vocal the whole game.” After each game, assess your performance on those goals and use that information to select new short-term goals for your next practice and your next game.
Always have goals that are not affected by the competition, the weather conditions or how well your teammates play. Eliminate the uncontrollable variables to set goals for each practice and game that you alone control. “I will sprint my hardest in every drill,” or “I will not put my head down when I make a mistake,” or “I will commit a hundred percent to riding.” Maintaining perfect effort will make other aspects of your game come together.
Set these goals, but realize sometimes wrenches will be thrown into your plan. Perhaps an injury or illness sets you back. It’s OK to put certain goals aside and revisit goals that are more attainable given such setbacks. Goals should be fluid, flexible and specific to the changing dynamics of your season.
Kate Hickman is the director of the Bay Area Lacrosse Club and founder of Balance Lacrosse. This post originally appeared in her monthly column from the January 2016 edition of Lacrosse Magazine.
Founder, Balance Lacrosse