Do you want to have an impact on your team? If you’re reading this, the answer is probably yes. Well, whether you are the star player, a role player, or even the third string goalkeeper, there are a lot of small things you can do that will have a big impact on your team.
Fill emotional tanks. Be the exuberant one on your team. Find the bright side. Always acknowledge the effort your teammates make, even if they were unsuccessful. Be encouraging. Give out high fives. Tell an older player what you admire about her. Tell a younger player about the potential you see when you watch her play. Say thank you to your coach and tell him or her how they made you better today. SMILE at your coaches, teammates, officials, and opponents.
Do the dirty work. Move the goal cages before practice. Help collect the balls after a drill. Warm-up the goalies. Arrive early or stay after when someone wants to work on their stick work and needs a partner. Set the pick. Clear the lane. Make the pass. On or off the field, it doesn’t matter. If something needs to get done, go ahead and do it. Don’t wait to be asked to do it. And don’t wait until volunteers are called for. If you see something you can do, jump in there and get it done. It doesn’t need to be the glamourous work. Everyone appreciates the player willing to do the dirty work.
Be the “First Follower.” When your coach, a captain, or a teammate has an idea, get on board and support them. It’s really hard to lead with followers, so don’t leave your leaders hanging. If someone asks, “who’s with me?” be the first to answer “ME!” If you aspire to someday be a leader on your team, you first have to learn how to follow. This is good practice. Support your leaders, so that when it’s your turn, people will support you. For more about the “first follower” concept, check out this video of Derek Sivers’ TED talk on the subject.
Include everyone. Make sure you are the one who expands the group, not the one who closes it. If you’re going for ice cream after a win, invite EVERYONE, not just the seniors, or the starters. Making a pre-game playlist? Get suggestions from all of your teammates, not just the ones who like the same music you do. If you’re on the field and your team scores, high five everyone. If you’re on the bench, same thing – don’t just turn the person next to you to celebrate, include everyone.
Focus on your teammates’ positives. Everyone on your team brings something to the table. Find it. Celebrate it. Keep the focus on what they do well. Don’t be that player who bashes her teammates or complains about them. And don’t be the teammate who listens and condones someone else doing it. Every single person involved with your program has something to contribute. Keep the focus on that positive they bring to the table and not on the negative and your team chemistry will improve. You choose what you think about and focus on, and believe it or not, you can influence your teammates. Choose to focus on the best things about your teammates and others will follow. Your team will be closer and will play harder for each other. You will win more games and have more fun playing. There is no downside to being positive.
If you have read this far, you’ve probably noticed that all the things listed above have nothing to do with how good a player you are. They have more to do with what type of person you are, or what type of person you choose to be. If you’re a younger player, or not one of the best players, doing the little things will make you more valuable to your team. And if you’re a stud lacrosse player, well, do the little things and you will also become the most popular player on the team.