We Cannot Coach Ourselves: A Lesson in the Mental Game | Lax Goalie Rat

We Cannot Coach Ourselves: A Lesson in the Mental Game

I’ve always loved the mental side of the goalie position.

So awhile back I took some lessons with sports psychologist and mental game coach Dr. Rob Bell (also interviewed him here – great episode).

Working with him taught me a lot. But when I heard one of his lessons, it was a pure “ah ha” moment for me.

In this post I want to share that lesson and hopefully give you a very valuable tool and mindset when it comes to improving your own goalie mental game.

The lesson is this – we cannot coach ourselves.

Let’s go.

Coach Others To Coach Yourself

I think one of the reasons this lesson resonated so much with me is that I’ve studied a lot of Buddhism.

And in the Buddhism I’ve studied there’s an expression which goes –

When you light a lamp for someone else, it will also bright your own path.

If I tell a young goalie that she can NEVER give up, that same exact voice echoes in my head when I want to quit or stop.

If I share with a young goalie that we’re going to let in goals, but its not about the setback, it’s about the comeback (another great lesson from Dr. Bell).

Guess what happens next time I make a mistake in my life?

The “next shot mentality” I was teaching that young brick wall is still living in my head and I know how to move on from that L.

I’ve seen this first hand in my own life over and over.

Since I’ve started working with lacrosse goalies teaching mental toughness, my own mental game has increased dramatically!

Since I’ve started teaching young goalies the intricacies of this position, I’ve actually become a way better lacrosse goalie myself. Better than I ever was in college. Just wish I could go back for another 4 year run!

This idea of coaching or helping others to get the very skill you’re searching for is counterintuitive to many.

How can I fill someone else’s cup, when mine is empty? How can I give away what I do not possess?

But understand this important lesson – when we focus on helping others, we’re actually helping ourselves.

Who can you light a lamp for today? Remember, it brightens your own path too!

It doesn’t matter if you’re not confident. When you encourage a teammate and remind them to be confident today. Tell them all the hard work they’ve put in is gonna pay dividends.

Guess what? You’re lighting your own path of confidence too.

What would you tell a struggling goalie?

Many times when you think you don’t possess a mental skill. You actually do, it’s just that its so hard to coach yourself.

I remember doing a Zoom call with a young goalie. He was upset because his team lost a game and he didn’t play very well. He felt responsible for the loss and felt bad that he let his team down.

How many goalies out there can relate to that? 🖐

I asked him – what would tell another young goalie who had a bad game?

He said – well, I’d tell him it’s just one game and that if he keeps working hard he can get back on the winning track.

I was in disbelief. I couldn’t have said it better myself. He knew the answer.

A lot of times goalies already know the answer, but it’s so hard to coach yourself.

It’s easy to tell a goalie – no problem, get the next one – it’s hard to tell yourself the same thing.

Because we’re not meant to coach ourselves. We’re meant to coach others. We’re meant to BE coached.

Which do you think is more powerful:

  • Telling yourself – Hey Damon, you’re a great goalie. You gonna kick some butt today.
  • Getting a text message from the captain of the team: Hey Damon, you’re a great goalie! You gonna kick some butt today.

Don’t know about you all but that second one would make me feel way better.

We’re not meant to coach ourselves.

All the Greatest Have Coaches

I’m a coach myself so it’s easy for me to say this – there is no greater or more important person in society than a coach.

Everyone needs a coach! Everyone should be a coach.

Novak Jovacic just won the French Open. Many consider him the greatest tennis player of all time.

He has 84 career titles and 19 Grand Slam championships.

Guess what? He has a coach. A few of them.

I’ve always had coaches in my life. Then when I moved into online business and one day I realized I’ve been playing this game alone for 5 years. I hired a coach (well a few actually) and it took my business to a new level.

The greatest athletes all have coaches because they know the important lesson I’m trying hammer home in this post – we cannot coach ourselves.

In my previous job I worked with a lot of online business owners. Some even had a background in athletics and understood the importance of a coach.

Yet when they switched arenas – from sports to online business – they forget that we cannot coach ourselves and struggle in online business because they’re trying to coach themselves.

It’s no surprise all the greatest have coaches. We’re not meant to coach ourselves.

You Tell Yourself Bad Things

If we were meant to coach ourselves, why would we tell ourself negative things?

Think about that.

As goalies we often tell ourselves things so bad, we wouldn’t even share them with our worst enemy.

“You suck, you’re the reason we lost today”.

Even if you’ve never coached a day before in your life, would you ever tell a goalie that? No.

Would you ever tell a teammate that? No.

Yet we have no problem telling ourselves that.

Why? I think you guessed it – we’re not meant to coach ourselves.

It’s hard to forgive ourselves after a bad play. It’s easier to give grace to teammate who made a bonehead move.

But my picking up a teammate and giving them grace, we’re picking up ourself and giving grace to ourself too.

Everyone Should Coach and BE Coached

Remember back when I said that lighting a lamp for someone else brightens your own path too!

The main point there is everyone should not only BE coached but everyone should BE a coach too!

Many young goalies often hit me with an objection when I tell them that.

But Coach Damon, how can I coach someone else when I don’t know much myself?

Doesn’t matter if you’re not expert, you can still help another goalie.

But seriously Coach Damon I don’t know enough to coach…

Then study something. Learn something. Read an article on LaxGoalieRat. Watch a video on my YouTube channel.

And then teach another goalie that thing you learned. That goalie will appreciate the effort and at the same time you’re lighting your own path. +

Coach Damon on Video

I hit record on my camera and filmed this same message for my YouTube channel.

I hit on lots of the same points as this post however doing it live is always a little different:

Conclusion + A Quick Exercise

To give away what we want to possess in ourselves. That is the secret to mental toughness.

Human beings are not meant to coach themselves.

We’re meant to coach others. We’re meant to BE coached.

Having the ability to coach yourself is so rare that even the best athletes in the world don’t rely on it. So why should you?

When we help others with something we’re struggling with, we light our own path too.

When I coach other goalies in the mental game, my own mental game increases. The lessons I coach live in my head and positively affect my own life too.

Who can you help today?

Here’s the exercise. Pick a mental skill you’re struggling with.

Text message or email a friend, another goalie, teammate, colleague, or classmate. Send them a message that helps them with the very skill you picked.

Quick example – let’s say I’m struggling with the “next shot mentality” and moving on from giving up goals.

What message or coaching point could tell another person to help them move on from mistakes?

Mistakes happen. It’s not about the setback, it’s about the comeback. How we respond makes winners! Something cool I read today.

In doing that we’re lighting our own path too.

Until next time!
Coach Damon

PS – While we’re on the topic of mental health check out this campaign that Brad Gigliotti, friend of the program and creator of 6×6 Goalie Academy in Michigan is running. Goalies Matter!

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P.S. - Whenever you're ready, here are 3 ways I can help you:

1. Lax Goalie Rat Academy - The Lax Goalie Rat Academy is a premier membership program that gives you the tools and skillset to level up your goalie game. Technique, drills, mental game, lacrosse IQ and direct coaching from Coach Damon to turn your goalie into a leader and a confident save machine. Join 400+ goalies inside.

2. Lacrosse Goalie Super Mom/Dad - Some call lacrosse goalie the hardest position in sports. That's not true. It's the goalie Mom or Dad. I put together this course specially for the parents who know nothing about lacrosse but still want to help their son or daughter be the best they can be. Learn how to train them but more importantly learn how to support them on this emotional rollercoaster.

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