Times are certainly unclear at the moment, but it is always good to stay prepared for when you get back on the field. Here are some tips to make sure you are ready for when that day comes.
Get In Shape
When fitness is not an issue, it’s one less worry for you. Prepare now so that when the coach says, ‘get on the line’, you can step up and say, ‘bring it, coach!’ If you’re not sure what you should be doing, reach out to your coach for a plan. You can’t be ‘in shape’ if you’ve run 3 times before practice starts. Practices are typically 2 hours…you’ve got to get your body prepared for that and it takes time.
Check Your Gear
New cleats? New stick? Break them in now, not the first day of practice. Coaches don’t like to hear things like, ‘I have blisters. I can’t run.’ ‘I keep dropping the ball because my strings are tight.’ You should also have a back-up stick that you feel comfortable with.
Like fitness, your stick work is incredibly important to your success on the field. Is there something you need to work on? Shooting? Non-dominant hand? Ground balls? Work on those things now so that you are confident in drills and gameplay. You want your teammates to trust you with the ball.
Go the extra mile (pun intended!). Work on things outside of practice. Coach says to do 10, you do 15. Run through a line, don’t slow up before the line. Warm-up correctly—don’t just go through the motions. There are no short cuts to excellence!
It’s easy to have a positive attitude when things are going well. Can you be positive on the tougher days? Your attitude is totally in your control and it’s your choice as to whether you are going to be a positive force. On those down days when your shot is off, you don’t feel 100%, etc., find ways to shine. Focus on other areas of your game, cheer for a teammate, thank a coach. When you dwell on a negative it takes you out of your game and you end up making more mistakes. Coaches want you to focus on the next play!
This includes talking and listening. The team that communicates on and off the field is a team that will go far. You may not be friends with everyone on your team, but you do have a common goal. In order to reach that goal, it is imperative you all communicate respectfully and effectively (it’s not just up to the seniors). Keep your communication clear and concise. Listening and trusting your teammates is also vital. If someone tells you to slide, YOU SLIDE! Communication with coaches is a bit harder sometimes, but best to develop those relationships early in the season. Ask for feedback and be ready for constructive criticism. Remember that you also receive feedback from your coaches EVERY day.
Know Your Role
Understanding and accepting your role on the team is incredibly important. Whether you are in the starting line-up, the 3rd sub in, or a player on the bench waiting to get in, knowing your role is crucial. Don’t like your situation? Do something about it. Be the most supportive of your teammates (enthusiasm always begins on the bench), stand close to the coaches so you’re hearing what’s going on (become a student of the game), be ready to go in at any point in time (have your goggles, mouthguard and stick at the ready). Are you a starter? Don’t rest on your laurels…there is always someone who wants your spot. Did you get taken out? Listen carefully to the coach for the reason why you came out and cheer for the person that took your spot.
Team First Mentality
It’s always about the team. Once you start thinking about yourself more than the team, you’ve lost. Your decisions on the field will impact the entire team. When coaches say, ‘take a smart shot’, what they mean is, you are shooting for the whole team. If it’s a low percentage or rushed shot, it could result in a turnover and now you’ve lost possession. If you take a yellow card out of frustration, you’ve now put your team at a real disadvantage, and it could affect the outcome of the game. You’re not perfect and you’re going to make mistakes, but with a TEAM FIRST mentality, you will limit those mistakes.