10 Ways Parents Can Help their Lacrosse Player Perform their Best

1. Communicate you believe in them both verbally and nonverbally. Great parents believe in their kids and communicate it often. You can TELL them and SHOW them that you believe in them.

2. Verbally & Nonverbally communicate that you accept them, love them, and are proud of them NO MATTER WHAT. Let them know that their happiness and well-being are more important than winning and perfection. If you focus on their happiness and well-being, it might increase their success rate because they are enjoying themselves while playing lacrosse.

One of the toughest things for a lacrosse player is dropping a ball or making a bad pass and looking over at your parents or coach and seeing a “look” of disappointment. Try your best to maintain a neutral or positive facial expression.

3. Praise their performance, and not their outcome. Compliment any skills they did particularly well or a new skill that they finally mastered. For instance, if your athlete has been working on their shot, and you can see a positive change in their game, be sure to praise them for that, even if the team lost.  If you only praise your kid when they win, it teaches them that winning is all that matters, and by default losing disappoints you. 

4. Don’t assume your child wants to hear constructive criticism. Ask them first if you can offer some. You can simply say, “Would you mind if I told you what I think?” This gives your kid a sense of power in the conversation and prepares them to hear some criticism.

5. Avoid always talking about lacrosse at home. Instead, let your kid bring up the topic of lacrosse. That way, you know they want to and are open to talking about it. This results in your home being perceived as a place of peace, positivity, and mental recovery, especially after a hard practice, game, or tournament.

6. Be positive and supportive at all times. Most of the time that is what your kid wants and needs. 

7. If you read news articles about other players or see rankings of other teams, don’t discuss it with your child. They don’t need to know if the highly-skilled opponent that beat them at the tournament ended up winning the whole tournament. It’s just not necessary and puts salt in the wound.

8. It’s really important to know your role. The players play, coaches coach, officials officiate – and as a parent, you should parent. Try to avoid overlapping these roles. Let each adult and athlete involved play their role and it will be more enjoyable for everyone involved.

9. Don’t make a particular game or tournament “special” and avoid “hyping” up certain games. This adds extra pressure on the athlete when they adopt this mentality from you. The goal is to treat all types of competitions the same, so that a “more important” game or tournament won’t psych out your player too much and they can stay focused.

10. Finally, when in doubt of what to do, just give your kid some space. This might be hard to do, but most of the time it is the right thing to do. If your kid’s team just lost an important game, give them some time to process it. They need some time alone so they can understand what happened and how they should move forward.  You can ask them, “Do you want to talk about it?” and if they do, then they will. If they do not want to, don’t push them. Just tell them, “I know you’re upset right now, but I want you to know that it will be ok and I am proud of you.” 

In a team sport like lacrosse, it is important that kids learn how to deal with a loss.  Give them some time to process what they could improve on in addition to what they did well. 

Note: These tips are important to remember because even athletes at the highest levels are aware of their parent’s judgements and critiques. We all want to make our parents proud. Know that your role in their sporting career is really important, and most of the time you need to be their biggest fan instead of their biggest critic