In this article, we will share some great insights from Bryce on mental preparation, strength & conditioning, the recruiting process, and advice for young players wanting to play and have success at the next level.
Bryce is a midfielder for the Lenoir Rhyne Bears (NCAA D2) heading into his Junior season. Last season, Bryce helped lead his team to a SAC Conference Championship and an NCAA D2 Final appearance for the first time in program history.
Bryce was named First-Team All SAC and First-Team All American in his sophomore campaign. His achievements in the sport thus far are impressive to say the least. But I think what many readers may find more interesting is that Bryce is a self proclaimed "late bloomer" to the sport.
Bryce’s Weapon of Choice:
Bryce uses our OBSIDIAN-135 shaft as being an offensive minded midfielder, he needs a shaft that is lightweight yet also sturdy and reliable.
Q&A with Bryce:
When did you first start playing lacrosse?
I didn't really get around to playing lacrosse until I was 12, even though my pops wanted me to play a lot and was probably the main person that tried to persuade me, but I was a big baseball guy for a long time. I sort of considered myself a late bloomer to the sport because there were a lot of kids that I played with that started in grade school, often as early as 1st grade.
What is your favorite thing about the sport of lacrosse?
The movement and the flow of the game along with the fact that there is no one mold of a proper lacrosse player. There's many players of different shapes and sizes. You can be 5' 5", but if you beat somebody off the dodge, you can be just as effective or more so than someone who is 6' 5". You can be smaller and still get the job done.
What are some of the things that you've done to kind of help develop your lacrosse skill?
Watching film of players like Nakeie Montgomery, Chaz Woodson, the Bratton twins, Hakeem Lecky, and Kyle Harrison, and then going out on the field and trying to model what they were doing was definitely a big key to helping develop my skills. I would often ask myself questions: how can I replicate that? Or if I’m trying to put someone on their heels and turn their hips to get a step, what is the best way to do this? Then I would practice putting a couple different moves together to help accomplish this. I would drill these moves in over and over until they would become second nature.
What are some things you are doing in the weight room this time of the year to help prepare for the season?
For fall ball, we are currently in the weight room 3-days per week. Each session is a full body type workout with a main lift and additional accessory work focused injury prevention. For the main lift, the focus is typically on explosive movements such as Clean Pulls, Push Presses, Squats, and Deadlift Variations. We'll just be a little lighter than usual, but we're trying to get the weight up fast. I think that focusing on lighter weight and moving the weight as fast as you can, really in terms of training your muscles to be explosive. The people who go to the weight room just to lift or just beef their muscles up, they're not really able to move. So that's why I think as an athlete, especially as a lacrosse player, the explosive movements that our strength coach has us doing really helps us develop as athletes.
For Injury Prevention and Accessory work, we do a lot single-leg work (i.e. Single Leg Squats, Bulgarian Split Squats, Lunges, etc.) and Romanian Deadlifts (RDLs) to help build up the muscles around the knee and the back of the knee to help with lower body injury prevention such as ACL tears, etc.
For injury prevention on the upper body, we do a lot of things like band pull aparts, scarecrows, and other banded exercises that work the delts, rotator cuffs, lats, and shoulders.
As our team gets deep into the spring season and playoffs, we dial back the lifting quite a bit, and shift focus on injury prevention and recovery to stay fresh. When we were starting to hit the conference playoffs on the NCAA playoffs last season, we hardly lifted at all. We were just doing a lot of stretching and a lot of lighter single leg stuff. At times during the season where the team was playing as many guys as possible, the team was still lifting, but more for maintenance, keeping us in shape and loose, rather than just pumping heavyweight.
With the success you and the team had last season (being named 1st Team All-American and making it to the NCAA D2 Championship Game) I can imagine that there are going to be a lot of targets on your back(s) this upcoming season. What is your approach to adjusting to that new level of attention and getting your mindset right coming into this season?
I don't think anything will change really. We've brought in a lot of good young guys and a lot of transfers. So I think our team composition is still just as strong as it was last year. So I'm not really worried about us against the competition.
At this point in the year, we're really just working on getting better as a team. Individually, as players, we are working on getting bigger, faster, stronger is what our coach usually likes to say a lot. So just working ourselves fundamentally so that by the time we get to the spring, that's when we can start focusing as a team and starting to go over game plans. I'm not too worried about the scouting reports or what they say. I believe in my team, I believe in the talent that we have and I think we'll fare pretty well this year.
What’s something that you're looking to improve individually for the upcoming season?
I'd like to shoot at a better percentage. I know my shooting percentage last year wasn't the greatest, I think it was just under 30%.
I'm going to try and bump that up to 40% this season. I did a lot of work this year with my offhand, so being able to become more two handed, which I believe will help in getting a better percentage
How do you prepare mentally when getting ready for games and practices?
I think mental preparation is probably the most important part about anything in life. I'm a firm believer in your mindset being the main focus of what happens in terms of your output. So I'm really keen on getting my mind right before anything else, because I feel like if you have a good mindset, everything else will start to click. Your execution will start to click, and your connection with your teammates will click.
Especially for games, I'll just go off by myself, away from a team and start putting mental reps in my head. I'll visualize myself on the field making plays and then once I get out there in the game, I replicated it.
It also really just comes down to practice and executing in practice. If you can execute in practice, then it makes it a lot easier to be able to execute in a game the same way.
Something I tell the freshmen a lot, especially last year when we were making that run, is to just do your thing. Just try your best to make the play and don’t be afraid to make a mistake. A lot of Freshmen coming from high school to college, they’re worried about making mistakes, instead of focusing on playing to their full potential.
I think having a team culture where the older guys who have been through the uncertainty and worry that the freshmen are going through, sharing their wisdom, and the freedom to make mistakes helps the development as a player.
How do you wake up for those dreaded 6AM practices?
It has gotten a lot easier over the years. I always tell myself and I tell the freshmen and the younger guys, the hardest part is waking up and once you wake up and get yourself going and just at least sit up and get out of bed, then you can do the rest of it a lot easier.
Usually for 6AM's, I'll wake up between 5 to 5:15 and then just give myself five minutes to just sit there and wake up and then I'll get up maybe yogurt or something, something quick. And that's all I really need.
Your dad Tony Reece, is an accomplished lacrosse player in his own right. How has your dad influenced you and helped you along your lacrosse journey and in life?
My dad is probably my biggest fan, even more than my girlfriend or my mother. He's been there since the beginning of my lacrosse journey. He's taught me almost everything I know. Like I said, it comes down to a mindset and that's what I really learned from my father; that having a killer instinct is what sets good players from great players from good players. The type of mindset and confidence that you cannot be guarded or nobody can go by you if you’re a defender.
My dad has really helped me develop my killer instinct through training, through going to tournament's through helping me develop as a player.
We did a lot of things that a lot of people don't know about in order for me to develop as a lacrosse player. He had renovated our backyard, cleared trees so there was space to practice, built a heavy duty backstop, and installed lighting so I could continue practicing at night. Any opportunity for exposure through the recruiting process, whether that be college prospect days, camps, tournaments, even though a lot of those things were probably money grabs, he still wanted me to go and try to get more exposure to colleges and I think that also helped me get better as a player. There were times when I would be out at a prospect day or tournament and say to myself wow, these guys are a lot better than me. But I would just go out there and continue to give my best and that’s really helped with developing perseverance and getting the most out of the opportunities and experience.
Walk us through your experience in the recruiting process?
Recruiting was pretty tough for me.I had played with the Duke's Lacrosse Club out of Pennsylvania, big shout out to Jason Christmas who was a coach for my age group and contributed to my growth and development as a lacrosse player.
With the Duke’s, I was playing with kids who were already committed in the coming out of eighth grade going into their freshman year of high school. That kind of stuff was really intimidating because being 14 years old playing with kids who are already committed to D1 colleges, thinking, wow, I got to figure out somewhere to go to college. That's what I was focused on, which I really shouldn't have been.
I was just trying to get an offer from any D1 school, but I never factored in how many of these schools had a winning record or how many schools even had a major that I was interested in. A lot of the recruiting process was unhealthy for me. I would reach out to schools. I would go to their prospect days, which were clearly just ways for them to gain money because you're paying upwards of $600 and they don't even reach out to you because there's like 400 kids there.
I didn't really enjoy the prospect days, but I did enjoy playing with Duke’s because even though a lot of those kids were better than me and they were already committed, I was still able to play with that kind of talent. I definitely think playing with them got me a lot better.
Lenoir Rhyne didn’t reach out to me until October of my senior year of high school. So it was really late compared to other kids that I played with. I went on a visit in November and at that time I wasn't really being contacted by a lot of other schools. A lot of the schools that I had been talking to, had disbanded. I was talking to Rutgers for a little bit, Jacksonville University as well as some other D3 schools, and NESCAC schools, but, all those guys, they ended up not following through or some relationships just got severed.
When I visited Lenoir Rhyne, I enjoyed it. My parents talked about the potential for me to take a PG year and take a fifth year of high school to try and see if I could get other offers, but I didn’t really want to go down that path. I had a good offer from LR and the coaches made me feel wanted there. That was the big difference between LR and the other schools I was talking to. They were just interested in me, and wanted me as a person.
The Coaching staff at LR really enjoyed who I was and wanted me on the team and seemed to get that vibe when I met a lot of the guys in the team as well. It worked out well. I really am a firm believer that everything will sort itself out.
What advice would you give a younger version of yourself or a young lacrosse player today who wants to play collegiate lacrosse?
I think just having more focus on developing as a player vs. worrying about recruiting and where I was going to go or who I said I was committed to. For example, working on my offhand back then vs. working on it more now after my sophomore year of college.
I would just tell myself or any other kid that's looking to be recruited to just work on yourself. Really, verbal commitments are verbal commitments. You're not signing anything. You're not locked in on anything. It's literally a verbal commitment.
So you can say you're committed somewhere and the coach gets fired or the coach leaves for a different job, and now you're in a whole different spot than you were two months ago.
Just worry about developing your game, developing your lacrosse IQ and everything else will just come after. That's something I wish I told myself, or I wish I knew while I was trying to be recruited as a youngster.
What’s some advice you have for a college freshman entering into their first year of college lacrosse?
Developing your IQ for the game is what will help set you apart. I know a lot of guys come from their high school and think they're the stuff, because they were First Team All State or First Team All Conference and they were the best player on their high school team, but when you're coming into a college playing against 10 other guys who were also First Team All State and First Team All Conference, it’s a bit harder to stand out. One way you can do that is by developing your IQ for the game. If your coach can’t trust you to play within the confines of the team system, then your individual ability may never come to light because he cannot trust you to make the right decisions on the field.
What are you currently studying at Lenoir Rhyne and what are your future career plans?
My major is multimedia communications right now. My passion outside of lacrosse is the movie industry. I like films, editing, and movie-making. That's really what I see myself doing outside of lacrosse.
I think it just comes down to entertainment. I just like being an entertainer. That's what I kind of bring to my lacrosse game. I just try to entertain and just try and have as much fun as possible. So I think it works out well that I want to be in the entertainment industry.
We hope you enjoyed this Q & A style post and were able to gain some knowledge and insights on how to apply some of Bryce’s advice to your game. Some key highlights from Bryce’s wisdom, we’ve summarized and consolidated below:
- There is no such thing as the “perfect mold” for a lacrosse player. Lacrosse is a sport where you can excel no matter your physical stature. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
- A great way to improve your lacrosse skills is to watch other players you admire and emulate (model) what they are doing on the field and apply to your game.
- When preparing physically for the lacrosse reason, it’s better to focus on developing explosiveness and injury prevention than packing on the lbs or going as heavy as possible. When in season, dial back the lifting, and start to focus more on injury prevention and light maintenance work to preserve your energy for the games when you need it most.
- Mental preparation is the key to success in lacrosse and in life. Get your mindset right first, and everything else will fall into place. Utilize visualization to help manifest the results you want to see in lacrosse and in life.
- If you are looking to play collegiate lacrosse, the best thing you can do is focus more on becoming a better lacrosse player over worrying too much about the recruiting process. Working on being the best student athlete you can be, will ultimately support you landing a spot to the program of your dreams.
- For College Freshman entering their first year of collegiate lacrosse. Remember you're not the biggest fish in the pond anymore. Set yourself apart and earn your playing by becoming a student of the game and get your Lax IQ up.
We look forward to seeing Bryce & the Lenoir Rhyne Bears continue their success this 2022 upcoming season.