How to Tell If You’re Getting Better
By Coach Damon on July 12, 2020
What’s up everyone! Hope you’re doing well and surviving canceled lacrosse seasons. As things start to open back up it’s great to see sports returning, even if in a modified and limited form.
I got a great question from a young goalie sent to my Instagram account (you’ll following LaxGoalieRat on IG right? If not, you’re missing out on some awesome stuff).
Hi Coach Damon!
I’ve been reading your blogs and listening to your podcasts and their super cool! I have a question though…
I’ve been practicing for a while during quarantine at least 4-5 times a week an hour each practice usually by myself and sometimes with my dad shooting. How do I know if I’m getting better? I’ve put in a lot of work but I have no real way to see results because of my team not playing.
Great question. Let’s dig into that as the subject of this post.
Setting Goals to Achieve
Whenever I train I like to turn every drill into a mini challenge.
If you’re doing wall ball – how throws can you complete in a minute?
If you’re jumping rope – how many revolutions in a minute?
If you’re taking shots with your Dad – how many 100% power shots from 15 yards can you save?
If you’re at the gym – what is your 5 rep max?
Structuring the training in this method does two things – 1.) it pushes us to achieve more and 2.) we get a measuring stick on how we’re progressing.
I remember when I was studying engineering at Berkeley I would also bring a shortie and a ball with me to the library and play 10 minutes of wall ball during study breaks.
During those 10 minutes I timed myself for a minute at a time to see how many throws I could complete.
My goal was 60 in 60 seconds. And it took awhile to get to that goal. But eventually I did.
It’s possible to put in 4-5 hours a week of work and not get better because you’re not pushing yourself hard enough. I’ve seen this happen many times!
So set a mini goal for each exercise that you do you. Then work your butt off to achieve that goal.
When you accomplish that goal – congratulations!!
Now let’s set an even higher goal. This is the mentality and the process of the elite athlete (and the elite entrepreneur too – but that’s for another post).
Doing this as a team provides a whole new level of accountability and pushes everyone to get better.
Challenging yourself with mini challenges is a great method of determining wether or not you’re progressing. You’re giving yourself a measuring stick that also serves as motivation.
Trust the Process
Regardless of what you do, if you do it consistently and with the right technique, you will improve at it.
That is a universal truth throughout life.
Of course if you don’t practice with the right technique that’s another story. So make you do research or get a coach who help you so that all your practice is not done in vain.
It applies to learning the position of goalie in lacrosse and its applies to your career, relationships, studies, on and on.
One of the key components in a lacrosse goalie’s success is belief in what you’re doing. But you also don’t want to over think things.
At a certain point just remember to trust the process.
Trust the fact that if you go out there 4-5 hours a week and work your butt off you’re going to get better.
It seems that one of the biggest stumbling blocks in being a successful athlete is the tendency to overthink the process and second guess everything they are doing.
Listen to Your Body
As lacrosse goalies we’re training our body to be an explosive save machine.
After awhile of training you’re notice the drills become easier. After awhile of taking shots you’ll notice you’re able to explode to the ball quicker than before.
Even though we might not be able to face real competition right now, after a few months of training if you pay attention to your body I bet you’ll notice some improvements.
When taking shots with your Dad do you find yourself picking up the shot a little quicker?
When you’re playing wall ball does the stick feel a little more natural in your hands?
When you’re jumping rope or doing the exercise ladder can you go a little longer without getting tired?
These are all signs you’re getting better my man! Sometimes you just gotta look for them.
Make Your Weakness Your Strength
I was speaking with PLL Goalie of the Year Blaze Riorden on the podcast and he said he focuses on making his weakness, his strength.
At first I didn’t understand – so I asked him to clarify.
If you only practice things that are your strengths then it can limit your progression.
What Blaze does is work so hard on improving his weakness until its one of his strengths.
So if you’re only training things you’re really good at, reconsider altering your training to really focus on the elements of your game that need the most work.
It’s comfortable to train our strengths. If hand speed and hand eye coordination are my strengths then you probably love doing those drills. I get it – they’re fun.
But if you really need to work on strength in your legs, it’s not fun but it will turn your weakness into a strength and make you way better.
Then you’ll see exponential improvement!
There are certain endeavors in life – like say meditation – where it is extremely difficult to know if one is progressing, getting better.
Luckily for us, athletic endeavors do not fall into this category.
That is because in any sort of drill or exercise we can measure our results. Therefore, pick a goal and then work your butt off to achieve that goal.
Once you hit that goal. Celebrate! Then pick another goal and keep going.
It’s also important to have faith that if you’re practice with the right technique you will get better. There’s no reason to overthink it.
With enough training I imagine you’ll start to feel quicker in your body.
If you’re only focused on training elements of your game that are yours
Once competition opens back up and you’re able to get back out there with your boys will be the ultimate test however suffice to say if you’re putting in an hour a day of hard, focused training every week then you’re going to get better.
Until next time,
Question for you goalies and coaches out there – how do you determine if you’re getting better?