I recently was talking lacrosse with another player and we shared the idea that “If you’re not getting any better every day, then you’re getting worse”. This is just an easy way to say that if you aren’t always trying to be a better player, you’re hurting yourself by wasting time. I think this is true, but I also think that there is any easy way to avoid wasting time by always getting better. The simple solution to this problem: Be creative!
Lacrosse is The Creator’s game, and while that refers to a God-like being, there is a creator in all of us. Each player must create with their play, in order for a team to be successful. The best way to create? Be creative!
But How Can I Be Creative?
Being “creative” is looking at what is, and seeing could be. When you are running down the field on a fast break you see teammates, defenders, and a goal. All of these pieces and tools for your creativity. You can pass, shoot, dodge, or any combination of those to create; but, if you can’t see the many options in front of you and decide then you’ll likely lose the ball and be running back on defense. Pull it off and you might end up having a play like this in your repertoire.
Each play is a chance to create, and as a player, you need to recognize your chances to create in order to be a better player. This recognition comes directly from training and practice. That means that the more that you have a stick in your hands the better. The more familiar and comfortable that you are with your stick, the better you will become. Trust me. It’s not called “an extension of your body” for nothing!
Bringing Creativity into Your Training
While “training” sounds more like pushing plates and wind sprints than BTB’s in your backyard, it’s those BTB’s that are going to make you a creative player. It’s true that working out, lifting, and running will make you a better athlete; but, none of that will make you a better PLAYER.
Look at Kevin Durant who notoriously couldn’t even bench 185lbs at his NBA workouts, and was even slower than Greg Oden in sprints. He is still one of the top 10 basketball players in the world because of how good of a player he is. There is no doubt that he is a great athlete, but it is his creativity and skill that makes him such a good player. While he may not play lacrosse, the same philosophy applies when you consider what attributes will truly make you the best player. Remember, you’ll never be faster than the ball and there isn’t a squat rack or bench on the field. So you better have some skill son!
The time you spend practicing unorthodox passes, taking pressured shots, and fine tuning your accuracy is what will put you above other players. And jut because you might be in your backyard, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be working hard. Each rep should be a good rep. Again, back to not wasting time with getting better.
This point was stressed by one of the best collegiate players in the country, Sergio Salcido from Syracuse. When I had the chance to talk to him he said,
“I would say training is what has gotten me to where I am today, the backyard is what has allowed me to be creative and unique, and I always play every game and practice like it’s my last.” – Sergio Salcido
Now Sergio made some great points in this short statement that provide some key takeaways. First of all, he references how training was most important in his success. Like I said earlier, the more time you have your stick in your hand the better.
Next, he says how it was his backyard play that allows him to be a unique player. Now, this man arguably is at one of the best schools for lacrosse in the country with a legendary coach in John Desko. He has spent years learning under Desko, along with the experience he has gained from previous Syracuse players like Kevin Rice and Nicky Galasso. But Sergio didn’t credit this experience to his success, he pointed to the backyard. Where the best players get better.
He finally acknowledged that he never takes reps off. Each game, and more importantly each practice, he plays like it’s his last. That is exactly how you efficiently get better each day. I had a coach that explained if you take 10 yards off 10 times every practice then in a week, you’re 7 football fields slower than everyone else. Having that type of mentality and drive pushes players to greatness.
Watch More Lacrosse!
Watch the best players do what they do best. It’s just like research if you do it correctly. Each move that you see a professional or college player pull off is one more thing for you to try. BTB, one handed, rusty-gate, over the head, or no-look. These are all things you should try, but start them in the backyard. Brining moves that you aren’t confident with using to practice, or using them in a game, can be irresponsible and waste other’s time. Practice makes perfect, so don’t use a move until you are confident in your ability.
That being said, check out clips of Sergio and other players CREATING all over. Take Notes. Let us know what you think. Get better. And keep checking out Stringers Society for more!