Every game in lacrosse is played to determine a result: who wins and who loses. This is the goal at the heart of lacrosse: to win.
We can have all types of goals as athletes in addition to winning as well. We can have a goal to be a starter, to win a championship or to be named an All-American. We also can have goals that are a result of challenges or setbacks, such as returning from injury, making the team or getting more playing time.
Goals are helpful in providing us a target to aim for. They provide something to work toward. Also, when goals are clear, we know when we achieve them and when we don’t, just like when we win or lose a game. The difficult part of goals is they exist in the future. Whether it’s winning, getting to play for the team we want, or any other goal we may have, the goal isn’t achieved right now; it happens in the future.
I have spoken with many athletes who know what they want but struggle with how to get there. They may be caught up in the past with things that have gone wrong or mistakes they’ve made that got them off-track, or they’re pulled into the future trying to figure out how to get to where they want to be instead of where they are. What’s difficult is the path to achieving our goals won’t always be clear in this moment. What we want is to have something in the present that we can focus on so that we can continue to move forward.
One thing we can access in any moment is our values. Our values are the type of player we want to be and the qualities that others perceive us as embodying, such as passion, perseverance, balance and hard work, to name a few. Values are different from goals in that values can be demonstrated right now and regardless of if we have achieved our goals or not.
Win, lose or draw, we can demonstrate dedication, drive, sportsmanship and more. Goals are a destination, and values are the compass by which we arrive there.
By bringing ourselves back to the present by remembering our values, we allow ourselves to focus on what’s happening now instead of what will happen in the future. To begin to uncover your personal values, ask yourself these questions:
▸ In five years, how do I want my friends, family, teammates, coaches and fans to view me?
▸ If someone asked those close to me what I am like as an athlete, what would they say?
▸ What qualities do your sports idols/role models possess that you admire?
By having a clear sense of the type of player you are, you give yourself the compass to provide direction in the pursuit of all your goals starting right now and into your future. The best lacrosse players recognize that worry, doubt, confusion, frustration, sadness and more will arise at some point.
What they’ve done is developed a clear understanding of the type of player they want to be and what values they stand for, so they can have something to focus on for when challenges occur on their way to achieving their goals.