A good friend of mine from college recently took over the head coach responsibility at a Charlottesville area high school. This past Saturday I went out to take in his team’s first game. It was a beautiful Saturday morning. JV lacrosse is fun to watch because there is less pressure on the players and a lot of them are just learning the game.
My buddies team went up early and the score was 4-0 at the end of the first. What ensued for the remainder of the game was a gradual melt down by the opposing team. The leader of the meltdown charge was their goalie, poor #14.
Emotional control is huge as a goalie. When the score began to rack up, #14 started doing something that I would advise no one ever do: Yelling at your defense. The goalie was clearly frustrated that his defense seemed to forget how to break-down and play body. They were letting the offense dodge right through and get close one-on-one shots on the keeper. I’m sure most of you have experienced a day like this; I know I have.
The question you need to ask yourself is “How can I best communicate my frustration to my defense?” Yelling at them after be ball hits the back of the net is surely the easiest thing to do, but far from the most effective. Here are some tips:
Control Body Language
When the goal goes in, shake it off. Grab the ball and toss it to the ref. There is no need to smash your stick against the pile or in the case of #14, throw your stick up in the air. Keeping control of your body language communicates to your defense that you are in control of the situation and you are going to respond positively.
Timing is Everything
If you have something constructive to share with your defense, huddle the up after the goal or during the next time out. Trying to share a point as the person is walking away never goes over well.
Keep Your Message Constructive
Put the past behind you and focus on how you are going to move forward as a unit. Like it or not, they are your teammates and you are going to have to find a way to make it work.
The next time your defense just isn’t in the game, remember that take a second and think about the best way to communicate your message. The “count to 10” rule can come in handy here, too. Here is to a better game next time!