Tryouts are a pivotal part of lacrosse, as these couple of days could determine whether you make your desired team or not. To perform your best, the things that you do leading up to the tryout are crucial.
Below, I have compiled my top seven checklist items that you should strongly consider doing the night before your tryout. Keep in mind that there is no magical substitute that will replace the months of hard work and practice that you should’ve been doing in preparation for the tryout. However, these tips will accentuate the various strengths at your disposal so that you don’t fall short of your true potential.
Play Wall Ball for 20 Minutes to Fine Tune Your Stick Skills
My number one tip for you is to engage in a short wall ball session the night before the tryout.
This additional practice isn’t meant to skyrocket your stick skills. Only weeks of wall ball can truly accomplish that. It is purely meant to give you that confidence boost and clear conscience that you need heading into the tryout.
Your mind can either act as the greatest enemy to your success, or the greatest ally. Much of this has to do with self confidence. Going into the tryout, if you genuinely believe that you’ve done everything within your power to succeed, it’ll be difficult to fail. Having peace of mind puts you ahead of the competition by a long shot.
I remember heading into my first tryout, I could feel the butterflies fluttering in my stomach because I hadn’t picked up my stick whatsoever the week before the tryout. Even though I had played in several recreational leagues in the months leading up to the tryout, I still doubted my abilities simply because I hadn’t taken the time to get in a short wall ball session to calm my nerves down.
In just 20 minutes, you could gather a high volume of throwing repetitions under your belt. All it really takes is 200 repetitions to get into a rhythm and feel somewhat at ease with your stick.
If you’re in dire need of a fresh wall ball routine to implement, check out Paul Rabil’s wall ball routine below! It certainly worked out for him, so you can bet that’ll work for you.
This may seem like a small thing, but I would caution against skipping over this practice. Trust me, it’ll do wonders come play time.
Refrain from Any Physically Taxing Activities, Like Running or Lifting
Furthermore, it’s important that you abstain from any unnecessary physically taxing activities the night before the tryout.
Contrary to popular opinion, practicing as hard as you can the night before the tryout won’t do you much good. At this point, you either have the skill to make the team or you don’t. One night of practice will not make up for weeks of skipping over your lacrosse training.
Many lacrosse players fail to realize this. They beat themselves silly by picking up their lacrosse stick for the first time in months and forcing themselves to partake in intense lacrosse drills for hours on end. When they finally hit the hay and wake up the next morning, their legs are like jelly because of how sore they are.
So rather than head to the fields and beat yourself into exhaustion with an intense shootaround, do your 20 minute wall ball session and head home. There’s no need to do anything else that’s too physically demanding. The last thing that you want to do is walk into the tryout already fatigued from the night before. You want to have fresh legs for the tryout so that you can perform your best.
Foam Roll and Static Stretch to Improve Short Term Mobility
Mobility is absolutely key to success in lacrosse, particularly in the lower legs. With the emphasis on pure speed and change of direction, your body needs to be nimble enough to move fluently on the field.
Researchers have found that a combination of foam rolling and static stretching is the most effective strategy to increase range of motion, rather than implementing each one strictly on its own (source). Obviously, the positive effects of foam rolling and static stretching only last temporarily if you do it the night before the tryout, but even a small, temporary increase in flexibility can make a difference.
For example, extending your leg a bit farther out on a juke is crucial to really selling your defender on a dodge. By taking the extra time and effort to foam roll and static stretch, your muscles will be limber enough to gain that extra edge so that you can play at peak performance.
In addition, foam rolling results in something called self myofascial release. Fascia is found throughout the entire body. They’re essentially the tissue that holds you together since they keep muscles, organs, and other soft body structures in place (source).
Self myofascial release has a number of benefits, with the most prominent of which listed below (source):
- muscle relaxation
- promotes tissue recovery
- reduces the effects of soreness
- represses trigger point sensitivity and/or pain
- increases range of motion
If you don’t have a foam roller, a lacrosse ball can achieve the same effect (source). Personally, I prefer to use the lacrosse ball for self myofascial release of my upper body, particularly in upper back and shoulders, but it can be as equally effective with the lower legs as well.
Although multiple foam rolling sessions (or lacrosse ball massages) over a span of weeks will yield the greatest benefit, doing this the night before the tryout is not a bad idea whatsoever. It never hurts to prime your body for any sort of upcoming physical activity.
Drink 32 Ounces of Water to Be Fully Hydrated
Next up, you need to make sure that you stave off dehydration. As an athlete that will be taking part in strenuous physical activity, you should be drinking at least 32 oz. of water the day before the tryout (source).
Keep in mind that caffeinated beverages, energy drinks, or sports drinks don’t contribute to this number. Only pure water contributes to the 32 oz. daily quota. In order to make it as easy as possible for you to reach this number, make sure that you bring a water bottle everywhere you go.
The reason that this is so important is because dehydration can have a significant impact on your performance. I didn’t realize the magnitude of the effects of dehydration until I came across the following statistic:
During my high school days, I had trouble drinking enough water to stay hydrated. For this reason, I held myself accountable with a strict rule to stop and take a drink at every single water fountain I passed by in between classes. This may seem a little excessive to most of you, but it definitely forced me to stay hydrated.
Organize Your Lacrosse Equipment and Athletic Clothing
Another helpful tip to best prepare for the upcoming tryout is to take the time to gather all of your lacrosse equipment and change of clothing the night before.
There have been plenty of times in the past where I’ve shown up to a practice or game only to find that my lacrosse stick was missing. Other days, I’ve shown up to a lacrosse outing and realized that my change of clothes was nowhere to be found. As a result, I’ve had to borrow gear from teammates or worse, go all the way back home to retrieve my stuff. Needless to say, my lacrosse coach was none too happy.
This probably just happened because I’m naturally a forgetful person, but regardless, there’s still a chance that this could happen to you. For a tryout, it’s important that you do everything within your power to ensure that things go smoothly. By taking the extra fifteen minutes to go through your equipment bag and pick out a change of clothes, you’ll eliminate a lot of unnecessary stress from your day.
If you haven’t noticed already, you have to keep tabs of a considerable amount of lacrosse equipment. For your reference, I provided the following checklist of essential items for tryout day:
- Shoulder Pads
- Arm Guards
- Lacrosse Stick
- Protective Cup
- Change of Athletic Clothes
- Bottle of Water
Arrange the Necessary Transportation to Arrive to Tryouts Early
Transportation is another issue you want to settle the day before the tryout. The last thing that you want to do is do everything else on this list and realize ten minutes before the tryouts start that you don’t have a ride. Again, this could be yet another headache come tryout day if you haven’t addressed this problem the night prior.
So if you’re a youth player, check with your parents to see who’s taking you. If you’re a high school player, make sure if there’s enough gas in the tank so that you can drive yourself. If you can’t drive yourself, get a ride with a friend.
You also need to clear up your schedule to make sure that you can arrive to the tryouts early, particularly if you’ve never been to the tryout location before. Google Maps can take you on some crazy routes. Also, I’ve definitely had my fair share of instances where I’ve driven to the wrong location because I typed in the wrong address. Leaving yourself some leeway is a smart idea just in case you’re directionally challenged like me.
Visualize What a Successful Lacrosse Tryout Looks Like to You
In the past, famous professional athletes have harped on the positive impact that visualizing what success look like. At first, I thought this was just a hoax. But after hearing out an overwhelming number of major sports figures who have made a habit of this, I had to try it for myself. The first time I did this the night before a game, I scored my first hat trick the very next day!
Which major athletes do this you might ask? Conor McGregor and Michael Phelps are among some of the most influential athletes that make use of this preparation strategy before every one of their contests. To learn of the exact benefits of visualization, I highly recommend watching the video below.
So before you go to bed at night, take fifteen minutes of your time to depict mentally what a successful lacrosse tryout looks like to you. Once you have a basic grasp of what you want to do on the lacrosse field, continue to relive that vision and refine it until you have a crystal clear picture in your mind of how to succeed. Don’t allow your mind to wander. Really hone in on what you want to accomplish.
Obviously, it’s difficult to quantify exactly how much of an impact this genuinely has. But if the top athletes in the world are doing it, it’s definitely something that’s worth your time.
Admittedly, this is an area of preparation where I was lacking during my playing days. I’m extremely curious as to what would’ve happened had I done this on a consistent basis. I suppose the only way to truly find out if this works for you is to experiment for yourself.
The Bottom Line – Don’t Overthink It! You’ll Do Just Fine.
At the end of the day, you shouldn’t stress yourself out the night before the tryout. So many athletes spend countless hours worrying about the little things they cannot control. Not only is this a waste of your time, it will hurt your performance for the upcoming tryout.
If you’ve performed even a couple of the tips above, you’ve already set yourself apart from the competition. You should go to bed and get a good night’s sleep knowing that you did everything within your power to succeed. Good luck tomorrow!