Losing? It’s not them. It’s you.
Is your team struggling? Have you had rough season after rough season and they aren’t getting better? Are you studying the game and throwing out new drills but still chasing the W? Lacrosse is full of technical, mechanical, strategical concepts and rules. It’s a hard game to teach. But here’s the bottom line. If your team was driven, motivated, united and hungry they would eventually find a way to put that little ball into their opponents net if they have even a little bit of knowledge about the game.
Everyone has a bad season or a rebuilding year or two. But if you’re on year 3 or 4 of misery then it’s not skills or your players that are failing you.
Here’s what you don’t want to hear. It’s not the team. It’s not your lacrosse knowledge. It’s not because they didn’t work hard enough in the off season. If you’re struggling year after year, I have news for you- you don’t hold the market on entitled teens. You don’t have more difficult parents than the rest of the world. Your players aren’t less athletic. Believe me- no one can avoid the array of personalities and athletic abilities that come with every team.
It’s your coaching.
“Wait!” You say. “I tell them that we’re a family. I tell them to play together, to get along, to work harder. To focus, to practice more. They just don’t listen!”
You can’t tell your team to have great culture, to battle til the sound of every whistle and every horn. To leave their hearts and souls on the field and to love each other as teammates. You can’t tell them to want to work in the off season or come to practice excited to learn and appreciate being pushed when they are tired. You can’t tell parents to support you, to be positive, to cause less drama.
You can’t tell them to do it, you have to build it. Even though I see it every year. The coach emails everyone stating that the team will act as a family and there will be no conflict. Good luck with that! That doesn’t work- You have to make a culture that allows that to form. You have to create and nourish an environment where greatness takes root and and thrives.
How? I thought you’d never ask 🙂
1. Create an environment where trying new things and attempting to improve on weaknesses is not only safe, it’s celebrated. Consistently. We are often good at this sometimes but then forget other times when important games are on the line.
2. Replace pointing out mistakes with pointing out victories. Write the mistakes into your practice plan by creating drills to work on those skills. Give specific instruction – keep your head up, get lower, etc. But make the correction in no more than one sentence and keep your body language patient and relaxed.
3. Facilitate getting to know each other better activities on a regular basis. I love Jon Gordon’s hot seat where players share a hero, hardship and highlight moment.
4. Take an interest in each player beyond their ability to play the game. Show them their value is beyond their performance so they don’t get hung up on a bad game or performance.
5. Give hand written encouragement notes to at least 2 players a week. Encourage them to do the same for each other.
6. Celebrate every victory. No matter how small.
7. Let them think for themselves. Avoid the over coaching, over talking, over game scripting and allow their minds to read and adjust to situations.
8. Ask them how they could fix it before trying to tell them how. It builds confidence.
9. Assure your parents through any conflict how much you value their child and offer positive feedback on what they are doing well
10. Bring a positive outlook and a smile. Your players are a reflection of you.
11. Read up on culture building, mindset development, and positive coaching! It’s game changing!
You want to become the powerhouse you think your players can never become? Build a unified, driven, caring, safe atmosphere and watch their unmet potential become reality.