Dealing with Anger as a Lacrosse Goalie
By Coach Damon on August 27, 2018
We all know a goalie who drops their shoulders or slams their stick against the pipe after giving up a goal. Perhaps that goalie is you.
Our emotions are a funny thing. Sometimes when a little white rubber ball flies past your shoulder it triggers an immense and uncontrollable rage.
Any goalie who has even an ounce of competitive juice will have to combat feelings of anger. Being able to maintain control is one of the most important tools an elite lacrosse goalie can possess.
Controlling your anger in an acceptable manner shows your team you’re a leader and it also helps your save making ability as anger diminishes an athletes’ attention, cognition, and fine motor skills.
So how does a lacrosse goalie handle anger?
How do you show your team that you’re still in control instead of succumbing to those feelings of wanting to yell obscenities, throw your stick to the sideline, and break the post into several pieces – in that order!
That is the subject of this week’s post – how a lacrosse goalie can control their anger.
Control Your Expectations
A lot of anger comes down to the demands that you’re placing on yourself when you step in the crease.
So as goalies we have to make sure we have rational and realistic expectations for what’s possible. Or else we’re setting ourselves up for trouble.
For example, if you’re expecting to keep the opposing offense to zero goals. Or make every single save outside of 8 yards. You’re setting yourself up for failure and when you fail to meet those unrealistic goals, anger is the result.
Lax goalies are going to give up goals. We’re also human and we’re going to make mistakes. So we must have a realistic expectation when it comes to giving up those goals.
Give yourself a little freedom to make mistakes without it causing a fit of rage or anger.
Lacrosse goalies do not need to be perfect to be All-Stars. Lacrosse goalies do not need to be perfect for their team to win.
There’s nothing wrong with having high standards, that’s actually a quality of elite goalies. But you’ve got to make sure you’re asking the right things of yourself.
Instead of being a perfectionist in preventing goals, be a perfectionist in things you have more control over like making sure you in the right goalie stance, seeing the ball, and making the right save movement.
You Are In Control of Your Anger
While anger and emotions sometimes seem like they overwhelming and subconscious, remember you are in control.
You choose what wolf you feed.
But it does take a lot of practice to develop the self-control to respond like a pro, and not an amatuer.
One coaching point that I’m constantly trying to preach is just how bad anger is for a lacrosse goalie’s performance.
In addition to hurting the team by showing a lack of leadership, anger is proven to hurt a goalie’s ability to make saves and it makes the goalie tense and reduces attention and fine motor skills.
Once a goalie understands just how damaging the anger and frustration can be for the team and their own individual performance, they’re usually more receptive to learning how to control that anger.
And it’s important to understand that while difficult, you are in control.
Practice Visualization to Help with Anger
I’m a big fan of visualization as a method to improve lacrosse goalie’s game.
When we’re doing our Walk the Line Drill we should be visualizing making saves. Seeing the shot come out of the shooter’s stick and reacting appropriately.
At the same time to help with our anger management, I want you to visualize giving up a goal.
What does it feel like? What’s your reaction?
Is your reaction professional or amateur?
Remember in the moments after giving up a goal, all eyes are on you and how you respond with your emotions and body language sets the tone for your team.
By actively practicing our reaction to giving up a goal we can start to control our anger when we actually do give up a goal during the game.
So in addition to visualization saves also visualize giving up goals and practice your reaction.
Have a Plan
If you know that you are very susceptible to fits of anger when you give up a goal. Have a plan to deal with that.
You should have a post-goal routine that you go through after each goal given up.
Before you ever step on the field, you must mentally practice how you want any situation to play out that leads you to getting your best results. This includes how you want the moments after you’ve given up a goal to play out.
So maybe your post goal routine is something like this:
- No body language reaction – no slumped shoulders, no palms up, etc.
- Analyze what went wrong
- Deep Breath – Breath in 2 seconds, Breath out 4 seconds
- Repeat positive affirmation – I’m a beast
- Onto the next play
So mentally prepare and have a plan to deal with giving up goals to help control your anger when that inevitable moment does arrive.
Remember you need to manage your emotions and anger, or they’ll manage you!
Accept, Accept, Accept
Sometimes the officiating is unfair. Sometimes the other team isn’t respectful. Sometimes the field conditions put you at a disadvantage to make saves.
Acceptance is part of sport. You have to accept that there will be injustice and realize that losing your cool doesn’t do any good at all.
In fact, most goalies get absolutely derailed when they’re angry and usually lose focus, causing them to perform at a lower level.
Plus, extreme rage could draw an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty which further damages your team.
So if your anger is stemming from the officiating or the state of the field or some other thing beyond your control, remember you must accept that.
Focus on the things you can control (your anger) and forget about things you cannot control.
Reducing anger takes some practice and it takes some effort but it’s absolutely essential if you want to be an elite goalie and a leader of your team.
Controlling your anger starts with having the right expectations of what it means to be successful. If your expectation is pure perfection that you’re setting yourself up to fail.
By having a plan and actively practicing how you’re going to deal with your anger when you give up a goal, we’ll be better prepared when that moment actually does arrive.
Good luck to all you raging goalies out there!
Until next time! Coach Damon
How do you deal with anger as a lacrosse goalie? Leave me a comment down below.