U.S. Olympian Lauren Crandall: Using failure to grow and excel
By Greg Bach
Lauren Crandall is one of the U.S. Field Hockey Team’s most respected and successful athletes.
And the 2-time Olympian – she’s headed to Rio this summer to compete in her third Olympic Games – has an incredibly valuable message that all volunteer coaches and young athletes need to hear and grab onto tightly.
It’s all about meeting failure head on; not running scared from it.
It’s about embracing the lessons that accompany setbacks, struggles and disappointments, and emerging a better athlete – and stronger person – because of it.
“When I’m a speaker and I get introduced they’re like ‘She’s a 2-time national champion, 3-time All-American, 2-time Olympian’ and everything sounds so great like I’ve won everything in my life,” says Crandall, who has been on the U.S. national team since 2005. “And really all I want to talk about are my failures because failing and learning from my mistakes and picking myself back up and growing from that is what has allowed me to be as successful as I am.”
COACHES: DO NOT LET RESULTS DEFINE YOUR PLAYERS
Crandall captained the U.S. team at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, where the squad finished in last place.
“That was a huge failure,” she says. “It was the first time I captained my team in a big, world stage event and we finished in last place. You hit bottom but because you’ve developed character you don’t let a result define you. So you find ways to fall back on the character of who you are to pick yourself back up and you focus on writing a new script at the next tournament.”
What a wonderful message that coaches should be striving to instill in all their young athletes, regardless of the sport, or their age or skill level.
There’s always another game to play, a new result to chase and fresh goals to set.
Every athletic journey features fascinating twists and turns, big and small setbacks, losses and disappointments. So it comes down to how coaches frame their messages to their players when these are encountered along the way.
“I think the big focus for coaches should be, especially with younger kids, keeping it fun, keeping it high tempo and focusing on the moment you can control,” Crandall says. “It’s focusing on the process and being the best you can be at every moment during that process so that we always say the results take care of themselves.”
So regardless if something good or bad happened it’s getting players focused on what’s next, not stuck on something that occurred in the past – regardless if it happened 30 seconds or 30 minutes ago.
“You take that next moment and you focus the kids on that next moment and not necessarily on the result of what that last moment was,” Crandall says. “So if you get scored on, ‘OK, what happens next? What are you going to do because you got scored on? Or you scored a goal, what are you going to do now? You need to make sure you defend and go after it again.’”
Crandall looks back on her youth sports experiences with a big smile, because her coaches truly made a difference in her life in so many ways.
And her high school coach emphasized effort, not scoreboard numbers.
“My high school field hockey coach focused on the competitiveness of the sport so it didn’t matter how good you were or how well we did, it was just staying competitive every single day,” Crandall says. “Every drill we had was all about competition, which would kind of light the fire under you and motivate you. It was something that went beyond just ‘let’s win games.’ It was just about being the best that you can be at every moment.”
THE POWER OF FIELD HOCKEY
Crandall played a variety of sports growing up, but she didn’t get around to field hockey until the eighth grade, where she quickly fell in love with the speed of the game.
“It’s a great sport for girls and boys,” she says. “It’s one of the fastest field sports we have and it encompasses all of the best about team sports.”
The same can be said for Lauren Crandall: She encompasses all of the best about what it means to be a great athlete on the field, and an even better person off it.
Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and World Cup Champion Briana Scurry, author of MY GREATEST SAVE, on managing challenging moments and what young athletes in all sports can do to navigate them and stay focused on the present
Ryan Gareis, former University of South Carolina standout and current forward for the Houston Dash in the National Women’s Soccer League, on bringing energy, enthusiasm and a team-first mentality at all times
Orlando Pride midfielder Chelsee Washington, founder of 90/10 Performance Co., on helping young players manage mindsets and build confidence from within to perform at their best
Erica Suter, former soccer standout at Johns Hopkins University and author of THE STRONG FEMALE ATHLETE, on helping female athletes enhance confidence, reduce injuries, and boost performance