School is around the corner, and for many players, the jump from youth lacrosse to trying out for the high school team lies ahead. The difference between a youth team and high school team can be eye opening and stressful for players making the transition, here’s some advice from a high school coach on how to make the best impression and have a positive transition.
Time management can make or break your high school experience when you participate and compete in sports. Keeping track of your schedule, writing down assignments, studying and reviewing notes on a daily basis, and keeping track of all your equipment, uniform, and gear so it’s ready to go and you can always be prepared is a great start for success!
Make a choice about how you will represent yourself and your team by taking care when using social media. Your public tweets, posts, instagram, snapchats and even texts can cost you opportunities. When putting something out there for the world to see, think about how you would feel if it was sent to your coach, your parents or other people at school. Is it kind, positive, appropriate, encouraging, and respectful? If it’s not, maybe think about talking it out with a friend instead of declaring it on a public platform.
It’s not necessarily what you say to your coach, but how and when you say it. You may have to miss practice, or will be late, or have an injury or maybe you want to talk about playing time or how you are doing at practice. Those are all common issues coaches are used to discussing and they are probably more open to talk about them then you think. But it’s important to use the channels the coach gives you for contact and choose the correct time to approach them. When you’re upset, it’s not the best time to talk to the coach. After practice, ask for a time that would be convenient for the coach. Be careful with sending text messages, keep it respectful, and if it’s a long complicated issue or an important one, then a text is not the right choice.
Self advocate! Your coach wants to hear from you, not your parents. Your parents are a great source for talking through situations about your team, your experience, and your coach, but ultimately, it’s time to advocate for yourself and allow yourself to be pushed to become a better teammate and a better athlete through hard work and learning. Talk to your coach yourself, they will respect much more for it, and then if you feel you just can’t work things through on your own, ask your parents to talk to your coach with you present. Are you having a rough week? It’s ok to let your coach know that you’re struggling, we want our players to have a good experience and often we just don’t know what’s going on outside of practice.
Get your growth mindset ready to go! You are on the team to learn and to get better, not to already be an expert! Every day set a goal to learn something new, try 1% harder, help a teammate, and encourage someone. Don’t worry about being better than the players around you, put forth 100% at every task no matter what is going on around you, and you will succeed as the season goes on.
Say thank you when you get a correction from your coaches. They are giving you tips because they want to help you be your best, showing that you appreciate those opportunities to learn helps the coaches see your coachable attitude.
Take ownership of your behavior, mistakes, attitude and responsibilities. Try not to play the blame game, ultimately you are responsible for the choices that you make and there will be times that you make the wrong one. Coaches know you are still growing and learning, own your behavior and if you need to make something right then do it right away. Be prepared for consequences, and serve your time. If you’re late to practice or being a distraction be prepared to accept what comes with those poor choices.
Do the work. If you are struggling with a skill or not getting the playing time you desire, at the high school level you are going to have to work hard to earn your spot. That will mean putting in the time to condition yourself, eat properly, and work on your skills outside of the season and even outside of practice during the season. It also means that during practice you will need to stay focused and on task which can be tough when other players or things going on around the field may be distracting you.
Find a purpose in everything. You will have great games, great practices, and fun days at school. But you’re going to have not so great ones too and those are the times you need to dig deep and remember why you’re playing a sport 5 days a week when you’re exhausted and stressed out. Having your coach be hard on you after a full day of exams and while having a fight with your best friend, and coming down with a cold can feel overwhelming, but each struggle is an opportunity to learn how to handle adversity. Sports are one of the best opportunities for figuring out how to find success later in life, stick with it and ask how this current difficult situation can help you in the long run.
Work hard, compete, push yourself but don’t forget that life is all about balance and sports in high school are a compliment to life, not the main event. That varsity or JV team can be overwhelming when practices and games are in full swing, take some time to spend with your friends, family, your studies and other hobbies so that when you are playing you don’t feel burnt out. Keep your love of the game burning strong for a longer and more satisfying sports experience.
The most common factor that holds back a player is a lack of confidence. Believe in yourself, your abilities, your potential to become better and never hold back because you are afraid of doing the wrong thing. We expect you to make mistakes, and we are fine with that because we know we can help you with those. But we can’t make you try harder, that’s up to you! Be bold, be energetic and be your wonderful, unique self!