Every successful lacrosse career starts with successful tryouts. For many beginner players, tryouts are the first exciting and critical challenge because they know these couple of days determine their future with the team.
I recently wrote about what you could expect during tryouts. There are a few standard tryout activities coaches will test players on so be sure to read through that post as well. But apart from that and equally important, you need to prepare yourself both physically and mentally well so that you could give it what you got without falling short of your potential.
Hence, in this post, let’s talk about the 5 best things you need to do the day before lacrosse tryouts.
Never Skip Wall Balls
The secret to lacrosse is wall ball. I know you heard it a thousand times by now but believe it, become it. Do a quick and short wall ball session the day before the tryout. You don’t have to go all-in; just a 15-20 minute practice to maintain your feel for the ball as well as give yourself confidence.
Assuming you have done the hard part of the preparation which is playing wall ball as hard as you can for the past 6 months, this session should feel like a breeze. And this is exactly the point. This quick session is meant to give you the confidence and reassurance that you have done enough hard work and you are ready.
I noticed what separates great players from the rest is the confidence and clear understanding of their own capabilities. I touched on this idea in my post on how to improve your mental toughness, and it applies here as well. Great players know themselves so well that they know exactly how they are going to perform so they aren’t nervous.
The reason why players get nervous is that they aren’t confident about their own abilities. So having a wall ball session the day before acts as an indicator of how well you are going to perform the next day.
As far as the actual session goes, you don’t need to do anything fancy. Bring in as many reps as you could in 20 minutes with both hands. Don’t cheat your off-hand. This is a sport that you need to be ambidextrous in.
If you want to learn more about off-hand training, here’s how to train your off-hand.
Naturally we think we should rest the day before the tryout so we have full gas in the tank ready to go. Opposite to this popular belief, I do think you should do some moderate running/jogging the day before. Note you should only do a moderate amount, sprinting 5 miles the day before won’t improve your speed overnight.
There are two major reasons why this is helpful. First, we want to keep our body at a good level of intensity. It shouldn’t be too relaxed or too stressed. A 30-minute run/jog puts your body in the best condition. Another reason is it helps you to stay focused without slacking off. Something I never do is give myself an excuse to skip training even if the tryout is tomorrow. This puts your mind in the right mindset — you are ready to hustle.
Plus, I found running to be therapeutic that helps to calm down my mind. If you are very mentally stressed about the tryout, a 30-minute jog outside in the sun is the best way to clear up your mind.
Again don’t overtrain. You need your body to rest and recover to the best level possible. A fatigued body is the last thing you want to go into the tryout with.
Recover your body by stretching
Before writing this section, I did some research to see what the best athletes do before and after a game or a race. Almost collectively they all do these two things, stretching their body and icing their lower body. Let’s identify the benefits of both.
Stretching is the best daily activity to not only improve your mobility but also your flexibility. It goes without saying lacrosse is a highly mobile sport that involves a lot of running and a wide range of motion. Your lower body is constantly under pressure to make sharp directional changes and interval sprinting. Thus, regular stretching is a great way to relax your body and improve flexibility.
The most common way of stretching your body is using either a foam roller or a massage gun. If you don’t yet have one, I recommend you get one especially after the season starts. Foam rolling is essentially a self-myofascial release technique according to healthline. This helps to relieve muscle tightness, soreness, inflammation and increase your joint range of motion.
Watch this clip to start rolling out your muscle and body.
Alternatively you can also use a lacrosse ball to target your upper back and shoulders. It works even better than the foam roller especially in those difficult to reach spots. So my regular stretching routine consists of both the foam roller stretching out my lower body and the lacrosse ball targeting my upper body. Watch this clip below to learn how to use a lacrosse ball to relieve the neck and shoulders.
If you haven’t started doing regular stretching, I highly recommend you start doing it now. And as far as the tryout goes tomorrow, do a 20 minutes session before you go to bed. The next day you could already feel a difference in your body.
Watch what you eat and how much you drink
Personally I love to watch and learn what the world’s best athletes eat daily and before games. Over the years, I created and refined my own diet by taking lots of inspiration from the best athletes. One big takeaway I learned is what you eat the day before definitely has an effect on your performance the day after. If you want to go above a notch, you should be on a strict and healthy diet a month before the tryout starts.
Things you definitely need to avoid are highly processed food (anything fried), candy and simple carbs (white bread). For breakfast, you want to focus on protein intake, so definitely have some eggs, yogurt, milk or bacon. For lunch, you want to choose one source of complex carbs (brown rice, whole grain bread), one source of meat (chicken, beef, or fish) and one source of vegetables (broccoli, green beans or spinach). Similar to lunch, for dinner, you also want these three components, carbs, protein and vegetables.
At the same time, you need to stay hydrated at all times. It’s no longer a secret how important it is for athletes to stay hydrated the day before any intense physical activity. Your body needs water to function and maximize its performance. An astounding research shows, “with as little as a 3% fluid loss, athletic performance is hindered, pace decreases and perceived effort increases.” Source
So make sure you carry a big bottle around you the day before the tryout to get enough water in your system. A good habit is to drink a big glass of water after you wake up every morning.
Mediate and envision the tryout in your mind
If you read my post on building mental toughness, you would know I am a big fan of meditation. I meditate daily 5 minutes after waking up and 5 minutes before going to bed. Meditation has helped me gain so much mental clarity and improved my overall mental health. Espeically if you are in mental distress, meditation can help you find inner peace and calm down your mind. When you are stressed, your mind is constantly talking to you and reminding you of the “what if”s (what if you don’t make the team or what if you perform terribly). To cut through the noise, you have to embrace it.
Before bed, close your eyes and simply let your thoughts rush through your mind. Observe them and focus on breathing. As time passes, your mind will start to calm down and slowly the inner voice will soften. Now you have achieved the best mental state. To couple with this, you could also think through all the techniques one more time. Envision how you can do the best of your ability to finish all the tryout activities.
As we wrap up our discussion, I want to leave you with one simple message: enjoy the process as much as you can. Don’t overthink the result. If you can follow the 5 things I listed above, you will do a great job.