10 Mental Mistakes Lacrosse Players Make

1.Getting involved in the hype or fan mentality by looking up statistics of yourself and other lacrosse players or teams. Once the season ends, then you can decipher the statistics.  During the season, you should always just focus on improving your skills and yourself.

2. Associating with negative people will slow you down and taint your progress during the season. Keep your distance from them as much as you can.  Avoid listening to people that encourage “excuse making”. They will make excuses for themselves and even for you, such as “that girl/guy was the best player on their team. You would have won if she/he hadn’t scored all of their goals” or, “we’ve had a really tough week in school, how does the coach expect us to play well in the game today?”

3. Making any particular match or tournament “special.” All matches and practices are important, but nothing is ever more special than others. Making a particular match or tournament special adds pressure. Treating everything the same helps you stay consistent.

If you have ever felt particularly tight in a game and can’t seem to shake it, most likely you went in with a mentality believing that game was more important than others.  The key is to recognize this BEFORE you enter the game, so that you can change your mentality. Most likely your nerves or intensity level is too high, and you need to bring yourself back down.

4. Believing ANY opponent you face is unbeatable. Nobody is unbeatable and there are countless examples of when the underdog succeeds – David and Goliath, The Movie “Miracle”, etc. If they can do it, you can do it too.

We always expect to see the greats in the finals of NCAA’s but there are years when an underdog beats out a number 1 team!  This happened in 2019 when Northwestern beat out a top ranked Maryland on the women’s side to take the Big 10 Championship.

5. Getting hung up on the past or worrying about the future. Focus on the present and being your best in the moment.

In a game, it is very easy to allow emotions from previous goals to affect future goals or plays.  Perhaps you just competed hard in a physical and fast moving game that went into overtime and the end result was a loss. The emotional frustration of losing that game is often far higher than a game with a tough game that was against a better team , however the two games count the same even though you exhibited far more effort in the closer, more physical game.  It is important in these moments to refocus yourself and get back to your baseline emotional state before the next game.

 6. Do not ever say the word Can’t under any circumstance!

Upon first trying a new skill, it is easy to throw up your hands and say you “can’t” do it.  Remove this word from your vocabulary! Always break down what you “can’t” do into much smaller easier tasks.  For example, if you are changing from using your dominant hand to using your weak hand, be sure to break it down: Start with partner passing, then move into moving around, then build to challenging yourself with a defender and finally continue to practice and play with your weak hand. 

7. Dwelling on a setback or loss. The best way to get over a loss is to learn from it. Since the mistake already happened, use it to your advantage and grow from it.

Keep a journal or log of your games.  Write down 3 things you did well, and 3 ways you can improve.  This strategy will keep you from black and white thinking like games were either all good, or all bad.

8. Focusing exclusively on winning or titles. Improving yourself is most important! Also note when you reach new milestones or personal achievements – they are just as important as a win.

Maintain a “growth mindset” with your lacrosse game.  Work on becoming the best lacrosse player you can be.

9. Competing not to lose. Not losing shouldn’t be your goal – always play to win and achieve your goals.

Playing “not to lose” is a sure fire way to come off the field disappointed, even if you win. 

10. Using extreme self-talk that puts extra pressure on you. Avoid words like  “must,” “should,” or “need to.” Instead, say “I want” and “I choose” because they frame things in a more positive light.  In fact, anything that feels like you are adding pressure to yourself is likely to negatively affect your performance!

Category: TennisJuly 11, 2018

Updated 3/21 2020 (lacrosse)