"If your head is not the game before it begins, then you are already behind when the whistle blows." - Anthony Lanzillo
Very often, I will see lacrosse teams and players showing up at the last minute for a game or tournament, and even if they get there with some time to spare, most of the conversation taking place is not about the upcoming game or competition. Many coaches and players don't realize how important it is for the players to get their heads into the game before the whistle blows and therefore, find themselves not mentally prepared to play when the game begins. Here are some simple mental skills tools that can be introduced or incorporated into their game prep time.
Mark Your Territory
On game day, it's important that you get to the field early in order to give you some time to mentally prepare yourself to play. Walk around the field and look at the field from different locations. Take into consideration the feel of the ground and the weather conditions. Then find a spot to sit down and take one more look at the field - especially those places on the field where you might be playing that day. Take a few deep breaths, close your eyes and begin visualizing how you want to play your position and play with your teammates. Take at least 7 to 10 minutes to complete this exercise.
Taking the first two steps onto the field can set the tone for your performance and how you play in the game. For some lacrosse players, stepping onto the field for the start of a game can trigger their nerves, and create some anxiety and stress. For others, they may begin thinking about what could go wrong or that they are overmatched. Therefore, with those two steps that you take, have a verbal or visual sue that is empowering and provides a positive affirmation. With the first step, think "good day", and with the second step, think "good game". Or "I belong on this team" and "I belong in this game". Or "wouldn't want to be anywhere else" and "I love this game".
Game Time Vows
Before the game begins, make three mental vows to yourself. (1) NOW - Be Present - Have the presence of mind to be aware of what is happening at every moment. (2) WOW - Be Positive - Continuously remind yourself why you enjoy playing the game and what you admire about yourself as a person and lacrosse
Guest Post by Anthony Lanzillo
Anthony is a sports counselor and mental skills trainer. He has developed and presented mental skills materials to student-athletes at the middle school, high school and collegiate levels in such sports as lacrosse, football, soccer and basketball. Besides creating his own mental skills blog for athletes (Reaching Your Mental Peak), he is currently writing articles and posts for eleven different sports websites and blogs.