Blog is BACK! Topic: Recovering from Mistakes

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve written a blog, my apologies. There isn’t a real reason outside of well, the nature of life and getting too busy, letting other things take priority. BUT, I’m back, and aiming to write about topics that will help you the most so please keep sending in questions!

This first one I get asked about a lot. How does one recover from mistakes?

In my opinion there are two situations to attack this for goalies. There’s the in game mistakes, and getting over those, and then there’s the overall mistakes. The overall mistakes occur when we can’t get over the in-game mistakes that lead to spiraling in our heads and later on overall bad games. These can also apply to life. We mess up something big and have a longer period of time to think about and recover from the overall mistakes.

Game Mistakes

Game mistakes as described are the ones that happen in the game and need to get past in the moment. They’re the ones when you kick yourself for biting on that fake, or throwing the ball under pressure to the other team leading to a goal on an empty net. These mistakes require you to get over them quickly. There isn’t much time to debrief on how to really improve in these situations until halftime or a timeout with a coach so you need to utilize tools to help you refocus on the present moment. 

  1. Affirmations. Affirmations are positive words you say to yourself after the mistake to refocus. It can be “you got this” or for me combining affirmations and directions has been helpful. I’ll think, “See the ball. You got this. See the ball. You got this. Drive.” It will come with knowing your tendencies more to find what works for you. Most of the time with me, I miss shots because I don’t wait and lose sight of the ball when I move before the release of the stick or I’ll wait too long and not drive hard enough with my hands and leave them behind my feet.

  2. Breathing. Using numbers to breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, breathe out for 4 seconds.

  3. Tension/Release. Tense up body parts and relax them. Start with face, scrunch up as much as possible, and release. Move to traps, and arms squeezing the fists.

  4. Movement. Stretch, step outside the crease and come back in when you’re ready. Create a physical routine when you mess up that allows you to reset. I used to punch my pocket and just get right back in my ready position before the draw is even set up. It communicated to me, my teammates, and opponents that I was ready.

Remember, the goal here isn’t to make the negative thoughts go away, but rather bring you back to neutral so that you can focus on the ball and play in front of you.

Overall Mistakes

These mistakes happen when you can’t get over the little ones and it’s how the dreaded bad games happens. As I mentioned, getting over the overall mistakes after lacrosse games is how you can also get over mistakes in our lives.

  1. Factual analysis. What actually happened? Not how you felt about it. In X’s and O’s, what happened in the game or situation? From this you’ll gather positives and negatives, and likely you’ll find a pattern.

  2. Learn from the negatives and patterns. This is where you can bring in a coach or teammate and see how you can create a plan on how to work on it. Come up with the drills you need to do and what you need to make them happen. Are they drills you can only do in a practice setting? Are there ways to break it down so you can do them on a smaller scale with less?

  3. Plan it out. You have the tools to make it better, but now the tough part - when will you execute. When will you be able to work this into your schedule? How often does it need to be done? What else might you need to move to prioritize making yourself better? This is why it’s tough. There are only so many hours in the day, and improvement requires sacrifice. It doesn’t matter if it’s on the field or off of it. You’re going to have to put yourself in uncomfortable situations and prioritize the plan.

  4. Emotional analysis. How did you feel during the situation or game? What was going on in your head throughout different points? Was there a specific moment when things shifted? Start paying attention to this in games. If we can find the moments we struggle most, we can target these moments to insert the in-game strategies to help recover in those moments and create different outcomes.

  5. Emotional plan. How will you change what you did last time? You might not find the immediate solution for you, but through tweaking and testing this you’ll put yourself in the right direction to find the strategy that works best for you!

The last point of all of this is the most important. Constantly test and practice these principles to see what works for you. So many people expect mental strategies to work with a snap of the fingers, and it’s simply not the case. You have to practice improving your mental game as much as you practice your game physically. Use physical practices as your testing ground and work on it every single time you’re on the field. I guarantee you’ll start seeing improvement after a week or two if you do! If you have any questions feel free to reach out!