Introduction

Hey everybody, Coach Edwards here from LacrosseGoalieTips.com and I got a great question this week from Tom in Maryland. Tom’s a dad. His daughter is in junior high school and they took this fall off from her travel team for lacrosse and she’s playing field hockey. So here’s the question.

The Question

Dear Coach,

Thanks so much for your great answers. I really appreciate the videos and all that you do for the lacrosse goalie community.

Thanks Tom, I appreciate that.

My daughter is junior high school and this year to give her a little bit of a break, both mental and physical, we decided to keep her out of lacrosse for the fall. She is still playing field hockey and focusing on her studies, but we’re wondering if we made a mistake. As you know, lacrosse in Maryland is pretty competitive, and we’re now regretting taking her out and wondering if this did more harm than good. Thanks so much for your answer in advance.

Sincerely,

Tom

Well Tom, great question, and to be honest it’s one that I get a fair bit this time of year. It’s the fall and people are either playing or they’re not, and then this creates a bit of angst either way. I could probably find a question for you with the opposite approach.

Feeling Fantastic After A Break From Lacrosse

I want to let you know, when I was in highschool, I played three sports. I played soccer, hockey, and lacrosse. I was pretty much a goalie in all sports, although by the time I got to my sophomore year in high school I was athletic enough to play all positions, and sometimes I did.

When I came back to play lacrosse in the spring, after the hockey season and my luge season was over, which, for those of you that know, I was an Olympian in the sport of luge, when I picked up that stick for the first time, I had both a mental break and a physical break. What’s really cool about that is that I felt fantastic.

A couple of things. One, there was always that nervous feeling, like “Oh my God, am I going to remember how to even throw a lacrosse ball?” or “Am I going to be able to get in the cage and stop the ball?” But that was always answered pretty quickly. But a couple of things that happened that were really cool was first off, my strength level had improved from when I had had a stick in my hand last. And because I had a break, I could feel that improvement in myself physically, and that was really cool and really empowering.

Having a Chance to Be Motivated By Your Own Improvements

I remember when was in Lawrence Academy in Groton, Massachusetts, when the spring came around we played indoors in a hockey rink. At Lawrence at the time they had open sides, it was kind of cold in there, but they got the ice out, we’d play on the concrete, and they’d start rifling balls against the boards, and I would always remember that feeling. “Wow, I’m stronger. I’m stronger than I was last year.” That was really motivating.

I don’t think I would have had that had I played consistently. I think that’s a problem that a lot of athletes have. They don’t have any sort of mental break, both mental and physical, to feel those improvements.

The Number One Common Problem Athletes Have

When I had my business as a strength and conditioning coach a number of years ago, this was the common theme I saw across all athletes of all sports. Whether it was a hockey player, a lacrosse player, which when I moved to Canada it was really common, I even had a figure skating athlete who had never had a break and her body never rested so she ended up getting all kinds of crazy ovary problems.

All these athletes, all in all, had one common thing, which was they were all kind of mentally tired. I won’t call it burned out or overtrained because I think that’s a little overused, but they were just tired. Your daughter’s not all of a sudden going to forget how to play lacrosse, and the fact that she’s playing field hockey is great. It’s a whole other sport, you’re running outside, but the bottom line is it’s kind of a mental break.

Bonding With a New Team

She’s going to have a chance to focus on new friends. She’s probably going to have teammates on that field hockey team that she didn’t have on her lacrosse team, and that’s healthy too. That’s a big deal. I find all the angst that happens now inside high schools when athletes just play one sport and they get their sport clique, lacrosse players just play lacrosse, hockey players are just playing hockey.

But when I grew up, it was really cool because when you played soccer in the fall, you may play lacrosse in the spring with some of the football guys that you didn’t really get to hang out with in the fall. Socially I think it’s really important.

It’s Okay to Take a Break

There are so many benefits to not playing, and I think now in this sports-crazed environment that we’re in, that too many people are afraid to do what you’ve done, which is to say, “Hey, you know, okay, listen hon, let’s take a break. Go play field hockey, something you enjoy doing,” because I guarantee you that in the spring, she will come back physically stronger but mentally fresher and just excited to play.

That, I think, going into her junior year, is going to really carry it over into her game, and you’re going to see benefits that you didn’t think you were going to have.

Conclusion

Tom from Maryland, thank you so much for the question. This is a great question, and I would love to hear other parent’s comments to this below this post. Please feel free to chip in and give us your thoughts on what you’ve done. Maybe you’ve seen it either way. I have seen it either way but I really like this approach and I think more athletes need to do it and not be afraid of both the mental and physical benefits of taking a break, okay?

Tom, thanks again. As always, Coach Edwards here at LacrosseGoalieTips.com. Do me a favor – Facebook, share this, tweet it, leave me a comment below, that’s huge so that we can further this discussion. I look forward to your question in the months and weeks to come as we get ready for a very fast approaching spring season. Cheers.

 

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