By Emily Gibson | @egibson32
Kevin P. Tucker
It’s one of my favorite times of the year—summer lacrosse season. With 17 years of summer tournament experience as a player, coach and event volunteer, I’d like to think I have some wisdom to share with all players. While I am a jack of many trades (a master of none), I am not in any way, shape or form a medical professional, so consult one who is for the most specific and best advice for your playing needs.
Here are a few tips to help with pre-game, in-game and post-game play.
Before the Game
If you haven’t already, be sure to sign the Compete with Class and Honor the Game pledge. Everyone’s doing it.
Hot weather usually causes people to feel less hungry than they might be normally. Get a feel for how much you should eat at the start of your day and before any other games you may have that day. Consistency was key in my experience as a player and later as a coach.
Look for sweat-proof sunscreen and apply regularly. Obviously it is a good move for your health in general, but it’s also smart because sunburn can seriously affect your mobility. It might also hurt more if you fall.
Make sure you’re starting the hydrating process days before playing. Don’t skimp on the water, especially the night before and the morning of games.
During the Game
Be sure to actually follow the aforementioned sportsmanship pledge you signed.
It doesn’t hurt to wipe away some sweat and re-apply at halftime.
Don’t be a hero (see what I did there?). Ask for a sub if you need one to rest and hydrate. You might be hurting your team or yourself if you push too hard.
- Chill out
Ask your parent or team parent to bring ice-cold washcloths in a cooler for the sideline. These help cool you down especially around your neck, on your wrists (palm side), behind your knees, and on your feet and ankles.
In addition to sub breaks, don’t forget to hydrate at half time and timeouts. Also, talk to your coach before the game to see if he or she can work with the other coach and officials to arrange scheduled water breaks throughout the game. As an event volunteer, I’ve seen the major positive impact it has on everyone involved.
This is the time to try your behind-the-back pass or simply work on your non-dominant hand. Want to try out a new position? Now’s the time. Get creative and have fun with it!
Be sure to get all of your teammates involved on the field. If you’re looking to be recruited, coaches will recognize unselfish play, teamwork and good field awareness.
Regardless of the outcome of the game, celebrate the hard work you and your teammates put in at practice leading up to the game and also the collective effort on the field. This can include a cheer, an ice cream, something else entirely or all of the above.
- Camp out
Avoid hanging out in the air conditioning in between games for long periods of time. It makes it hard to adjust and can end up hurting you. Cool off outside in the shade instead.
ALWAYS pick up your trash and your belongings. I would always say to my teammates and players, “Leave the field cleaner than you found it.” You will not only build a good reputation within the lacrosse community, but also with those in charge of the event.
Remember that heat messes with your appetite. Eat small, but nutrition-packed snacks in between games and slightly bigger meals for longer breaks in between games.
Not you, silly…your gear! Lay out pads and socks out in the sun to air/dry them out. If you can, bring multiple pairs of socks. You’ll thank me later.
Hopefully your coach is running you through pre-game and post-game stretching. Regardless, do a little light stretching on your own to stay loose.
Hopefully you recognize this important theme by now.
Spend time hanging with your teammates (in the shade). The more you get to know each other and connect off of the field, the better your chemistry will be on the field.
Show your parents you appreciate the opportunity to play summer lacrosse. It’s a privilege, not a given. Thank them every chance you can.
Hopefully some of these tips will help you this summer. When in doubt, follow these nine habits of highly effective lacrosse players. Share any other tips you have found to be useful in the comments section.
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