Give a nice warm welcome to our good friend Ron over at Girls Lacrosse HQ for this superb guest post!
We know you are busy thinking about the never-ending list of academic responsibilities, social life challenges, money, travel, living situations and so much more. But lets face it, when the love of the game runs deep, lacrosse is going to be on your mind.
In this article we will help you identify the most important areas of the game that you should focus on while being a lacrosse girl in college. Additionally we will discuss some off-field strategies that will keep the game at the top of your priority list while pursuing a happy college life.
Whether you are a returning college student or a freshman about to embark on your college journey, there are things that are critically important that should be kept in the forefront if you want to keep the fire burning for lacrosse throughout your college years.
Maybe you were recruited and about to jump to the next level or maybe you thought your girls lacrosse career ended in high school. No matter what your situation is, if you're like most of us who have loved the sport for so long, the game is going to be on your mind.
But in college, the game changes doesn't it? After all, isn't this when we stop calling it “Girls Lacrosse” and start calling it “Women's Lacrosse?” If the name of the sport matures at this stage, we should probably be taking a more responsible look at the way we approach the game in our lives, shouldn't we?
Here are 5 tips that can help insure that lacrosse continues to grow in your life.
1. Nutrition and Health (It's not just about logging hours at the gym )
FEAR THE FRESHMAN 15, IT'S THE REAL DEAL
This is the most simple concept yet probably the most difficult to deal with in your day-to-day life as a college student. Meal plans, vending machines, late night snacking, fast food, alcohol and so much more. This all seems obvious but this problem will sneak up on you slowly.
College is also about having fun and all of these contributing factors to weight gain by themselves are part of the the great experience of college and probably should be part of your experience but when put together in excess can pack on the pounds. The weight gain comes when you don't make a choice to say no often enough.
The best plan for avoiding the weight gain is to have a plan for eating and stick with it. Write down your intentions and stick to them. If you plan your meals for the day, you will likely not plan to overeat. However, if you have no plan, you will likely eat more impulsively. Just be real with yourself i.e. today I know I am going to want Chipotle because I walk by it on the way home so therefore I'm going to skip my meal plan dinner tonight. Enough of these small victories will equal minimal weight gain if any at all.
If you are on the team then your team workouts are enough. End of story. Trust your coaches to keep you in shape and use your down time for recovery.
So if you are not playing for a team during college, fitness will be your responsibility so train responsibly. Try to maintain a consistent workout schedule and schedule downtime. Try not to workout to lose weight but rather to stay fit for the purpose of doing fun and active things. Going on a 5 mile run on Sunday because you are trying to burn off Saturday's pizza is not a good strategy.
How do you know if you are over-trained? Pay attention to the signs your body gives you letting you know that you are recovered. If you fly right by and ignore these signs, you might find yourself over-trained after it is too late. Fitness expert Ben Greenfield provides 25 tips to detect with laser-like accuracy if your body is ready to go again.
If you hit your targets for the week and you are still really itching to do something, try working on your mobility with some kind of movement practice like Yoga, Pilates or advanced stretching using the principles of the book Becoming a Supple Leopard.
GET SOME SLEEP
Sleep is something we all know how to do instinctively but too many things pull us away from this necessity in life. Lack of sleep can be attributed to conditions such as immune system failure, diabetes, cancer, obesity, depression, and memory loss. If you're like me, I just want an easy reference to follow and the best one we have found is a book written by fitness and nutrition expert Shawn Stevenson. This book was an absolute game changer and really exposes what sleep amateurs most of us are.
You probably won't be surprised by the obvious tips like getting more sleep and not drinking caffeine late in the day but there are some that will be very tough to swallow like eliminating screen time before bed. As the author puts it in his book “get your friends out of your bedroom.” Blackout curtains, blue blocking glasses and sleeping cool are a few of the ninja tips laid out in his guide.
You can reference worth the $10 to have a copy for reference.
MY BODY IS A TEMPLE
So why does college bring on the biggest flood of new and harmful substances to the body? Freedom! Freedom is an interesting thing; it's what we would kill for yet it has a chance of killing us. Ironically freedom is also what nets us the freshman 15.
So how do you avoid trashing your body temple? Balance. It's about avoiding the excesses. If you don't participate in anything that can be harmful to your body then great; but let's assume you do. We instinctively know when our bodies have had too much but we tend to ignore the messages when we are “having fun.” When you are in that moment, just say to yourself I'm all done just for now instead of I'll never do this again or I have to stop. Giving yourself this permission to fly off the handles again will save you from feeling like you have to squeeze it all in at once. We all know about FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) but nobody is saying you have to go home. What about just switching over to the old water in solo cup trick? Additionally, if you decide that you are all done for now, you will likely avoid the depression and guilt that comes with knowing that let yourself go. Get a couple of these wins under your belt and you will be building up some serious will power.
And remember one key thing…Nobody…I mean NOBODY should feel like they can tell you what to do with your body temple. You are the master and keeper and Chief Decision Maker of this temple.
MIND OVER MATTER
As Andy Puddicome asked during his famous TED talk about mindfulness, “so with that in mind, I'd like you just to take a moment to think, when did you last take any time to do nothing? Just 10 minutes, undisturbed? And when I say nothing, I do mean nothing.” Pretty deep huh? And challenging. I mean when we are scrolling and swiping and tapping, we think we are doing nothing but in fact that is causing the mind to go in every which way. The purpose of this article is not to wax poetically about the values of mindfulness but rather just to call your attention to how powerful mindfulness can be in your life.
We purposely ended this section with mindfulness because it can help with all of the previous health concerns in your life. Each good decision you make about your health requires not just one monumental decision to change your ways but rather many small decisions as you are constantly bombarded with during challenging situations. Mindfulness is the key to being present to make those decisions wisely.
So do you need to sit in the lotus position on the top of the Himalayas to properly meditate? Of course not. Guess what passes as a perfect form of meditation? Take 10 minutes and hit the wall. Wall ball is just the right mix of Lax, fitness and meditation.
2. Stay in the Game (Especially if you aren't playing on the school team)
You didn't get recruited so lacrosse is a thing of the past right? Wrong, there are many ways to keep in the game long after your high school days are over.
JOIN AN INTRAMURAL PROGRAM OR START YOUR OWN
If your school doesn't currently have an intramural program already, you can easily start one. In fact, you may even attract a player who gave up the sport back in Youth Lacrosse or maybe even someone who has never tried it.
TRY TO WALK ON THE TEAM
What is the worst that can happen here? You won't make the team and you'll get a few good workouts. This is a no-brainer and you should attempt this every year you can.
FIND A MEETUP
There are likely to be other Lacrosse players in your area who want to keep the game going in their lives. Once again, if this doesn't exist, start it on your own. You can find or start your own meetup or even post an interest ad on Craigslist.
COACH YOUTH LACROSSE IN YOUR COLLEGE TOWN OR AREA
There is no greater tribute you can pay to the game of Lacrosse than to pass on what you've learned to the next generation of players. Do a quick google search of the youth lacrosse programs in your area and send out a few interest emails. Try and get the email of the league director because they will check their emails more frequently and likely respond quicker. Also, the league director is the one who will be the most motivated to act on your offer. This will be a rewarding experience that you won't regret.
BECOME AN UMPIRE AND EARN SOME EXTRA MONEY
I know, you almost passed out when you read that. Until now, you thought Umps were cyborgs or synthetically produced beings who come to games to ump and then go back in their recharging pods.
If you can get over the fact that umps are real people and that you could become an ump, you can find out how to become one over at US Lacrosse. You will learn the finer points of the game like never before and most likely earn more money than working in retail or fast food.
3. Grow Up, Would Ya (Well, maybe not all the way up)
Enjoy your new freedom as an adult but remind yourself about the great responsibility you have to stay mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually healthy.
Hopefully mom stopped carrying your bag some time in high school but doesn't mean you've cut the umbilicle cord yet. Your first couple of years in college are supposed to be a transition into “real” adulthood but there are plenty of shinanigans that can catapult you back a few years in maturity. There is no shame in being a bit immature as long as you have the awareness of what areas you can improve upon. The key here is to tackle a few easy things to start building up your skills. Some examples are:
– Get a job…if you can. If you are playing in a program, you might be prohibited
– Become a mentor – either in your academics or as a youth lacrosse coach. Organizations like Big Brother/Big Sister can be a wonderful experience.
– Get a routine – whether it be working out, studying, employment, volunteering or anything else. Make sure it's a regular part of what you do. It really helps to write it down and put it where you can see it every day.
– Keep a calendar of appointments and be on time – even for social activities.
– Get some, keep some or enhance some kind of spirituality in your life. Whether you are a religious person or not, spirituality can be very healthy to your mental well-being and keep you on the path to maturity.
4. Are you hanging with the right people? (Your friends define you)
It is important to be at least mindful of who you keep for company. Let's get the obvious stuff out of the way. I hope you aren't choosing to hang with people who are always putting you in tough, peer pressure ridden, awkward, dangerous or other types of situations that you don't really want to be in. I hope that is obvious but we have some more subtle suggestions.
Don't just hang with your Lax crowd or the same group of people constantly. It's OK to have your core group but try to venture out as much as possible. As Jim Rohn famously said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with” and yes there are lots of great people out there beyond your inner circle. Broaden your horizons!
You've come all this way to a college with thousands of people you've never met before and you choose to hang with the 5 most similar people in the whole school? Bridge out, explore, meet someone who you would never meet at home.
With all that said, please don't go in the other direction and reject your Lax roots. Maintain your lacrosse relationships because that will more than likely keep you in the game.
5. Stay connected with the game electronically (Lax on your phone)
Of course we will shamelessly plug GirlsLacrosseHQ.com for all the latest and greatest info but there is so much more out there. Find your favorite sources for the latest news on the game. Inside Lacrosse has a Women's section of the site that is a great resource.
Get involved in an online forum like the SubReddit on Women's Lacrosse on Reddit.com. You might have to comb your way through some goofy stuff now and again but it's a great way to get your passion flowing on the sport. My suggestion is to post something that could start a bit of an argument or heated discussion like maybe helmets in the sport of girls lacrosse. This isn't to be argumentative but rather to keep that passion flowing. Also, this is a great way to keep up with the hot topics in the sport.
Keep your US Lacrosse membership current. At the very least, you get a free magazine out of the deal. Also if you choose to take the path of being a coach or umpire, you will need to keep this current.
Make sure you are following the leading influencers on social media. Start with the Official Lax Girl on Twitter. With over 16k followers and over 47k posts, I would say she is pretty much THE influencer when it comes to the sport of Girls Lacrosse. She has great posts and has a vibrant way of bringing excitement and fun to the game.
Above all make sure that you are enjoying every minute of being a lacrosse girl in college. The time will fly by and if you don't dedicate some time to staying around the game and keeping healthy, you may regret the time lost.