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By Kate Leavell | @KateLeavell
Life really is just one big lacrosse game. If you grow up playing this sport and learning its lessons, then you’re on your way to navigating the great big world out there. This could apply to almost any youth sport, and should be the focus of parents, coaches, administrators and players—using sports to build confident, socialized, prepared adults who are ready for the gauntlet of obstacles and choices that lay ahead when they go out on their own.
There are more than 16 lessons that I've learned from lacrosse, but these are the most important.
1. Life is a series of cuts. It’s all about making choices, changes of speed, and changes of direction. When we stop moving and stand still, our progress stalls and we can’t protect the ball.
2. We need awareness at all times, to know what the people who are with us are doing, to know what our opponents are doing, and to learn how to work with both of them for the best outcome.
3. Integrity and sportsmanship make the game more fun to play, but aren’t always easy, especially when the other team doesn’t practice them. Keeping those qualities despite what others are doing builds character and feels pretty good at the end of the day.
4. Anticipating is always better than reacting.
5. The first one off the line has the opportunity to get the prize, but the person who is in the best position usually comes up with it. Attacking goals smarter, not just faster, and with the best effort pays off.
6. Falling down is inevitable. Failing to get back up stops the game.
7. Injuries and health problems happen, rest and recovery is essential, but prevention makes for a much better season/life.
8. Mistakes and failures teach us the best lessons, and those lessons stick with us the longest.
9. Consistently watching film/reviewing our habits can show us what we are doing right and where we need to improve.
10. We don’t have to just follow plays, we can make decisions based on each situation. Adjust on the fly, try something new, never be afraid to drop the ball—it’s part of the game.
11. My role on the team is not the same as everyone else’s role, but I can do my part to the best of my ability and make a difference.
12. My encouragement and positivity can change the entire outlook of the team around me.
13. The refs don’t always see the fouls that we think we see, but we have to continue to move forward. Focusing on the past never changes the call.
14. Sometimes people on the sideline don’t know what they are cheering or booing for, so we have to focus on the task at hand and let the background noise be just background noise.
15. It may feel like one person is scoring all of the goals, but the game can’t be played alone. Without the team around them, even the strongest player would have to forfeit.
16. When the season is over, the memories are almost never about the scoreboard, but rather about the journey and the relationships.
So, what lessons have you learned from your lacrosse playing experience? Did one of the lessons I mentioned jump out to you? What did I miss? Let us know in the comments section.
Kate Leavell is a national coaching education trainer for US Lacrosse, as well as a high school varsity and NCAA Division III women's lacrosse coach in metro Atlanta, and a certified strength and conditioning coach.
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