Predator vs. Prey Mindset in Lacrosse

You have a choice each moment on the field, at school and in life. Are you going to be the Predator or the Prey?  Are you on the prowl, or are you constantly fearing for your life? When you think about animals in their natural habitats, there are always two types of animals: Predator animals and their Prey. These two groups of animals have key differences:

Prey animals have evolved to protect themselves from predator animals. They have adapted by developing eyes on the side of their head or further apart than predators. This is to improve peripheral vision so that they can see everything that is going on around them. It is their best way to avoid the predator animals.

On the other hand, predator animals have eyes much closer together because they don’t need to be concerned with the world around them. They need to have tunnel vision to attack their prey.

We can use this analogy in lacrosse to see that we have a choice. Are we a predator or a prey athlete?

The Prey is concerned with everything around them. How good is my opponent? What will my teammates say if I make a bad play? How does my shot look? If we lose this game, who will we play next in the tournament? If we lose this game, will we be out of the playoffs? What will my friends think of me?  Most importantly, the answers to these questions don’t matter! The predator’s mindset does not allow these thoughts to cultivate in their mind.

The Prey is worried about external factors which are things they have no control over and won’t help them.  Thinking about loss or failure in lacrosse is the most common prey mindset. Most likely the player does not want to disappoint coaches, friends, family, or themselves. It causes players to get tight and tentative, and play “not to lose”.  Maintaining a predator mindset throughout the game is not easy, but it can be done! Work on your self-awareness by recognizing prey mindset thoughts and snuff them out! Replace prey thoughts with predator thoughts and your actions will follow. Many people believe they have to have the ability to play aggressively in order to have aggressive thoughts.  The fact is, many lacrosse players need to begin with the aggressive thought in order to perform aggressively on the field. The old adage, “fake it til you make it” applies here!

A lacrosse player behaving like a prey athlete would play very reactionary lacrosse.  They would continuously be reacting to their opponents’ moves or getting caught on their heels. If you fall into this mentality, you will feel like you are constantly running, and your opponent is always one step ahead.  Instead, you need to be the one in control right from the draw, making your opponent work! Become an expert at recognizing it and turning your predator mindset on right away!

A Predator lacrosse player does not care to look around at these external factors. He/She makes decisions based on what they believe is best regardless of others. They focus on the things they can control. They put forth a full effort and are aggressive regardless of rankings, seeds, score and outcome. The predator lacrosse player doesn’t look ahead, doesn’t look around, doesn’t look back. They focus solely on the task at hand, the team ahead of them, and what they need to do.

During the postseason you have the same choice. Are you predator or prey? Are you going to look around at what other people are doing? Fans? The crowd? Other teams in your league? Predictions/Seeds/Rankings? That is a Prey mentality.

Be the lacrosse player who acts like a Predator. Focus on what you have to do to be successful. Tune out your opponents results, rankings, predictions and all the hype. Use tunnel vision, stop caring about what is going on around you. Focus all your energy on competing aggressively from start to finish. Do everything you can to be the best player, attacker, defender, and competitor on the field.