Last night I was involved in my first type of competition since maybe February. I was playing volleyball with my team at Bangor park for the first night of summer league volleyball. I was so AMPED to get back into it. It has been way too long since I had any competition-related experiences. My adrenaline started pumping, my heart started racing, and it was just awesome! My arm was not hurting, everything was right on point. WOW!
There was a few people who could no longer be on the team due to various reasons, so we had to find ourselves a replacement. I never exactly met this kid, but from what I knew he listened, he was a competitor, and he could jump. What more could you ask for really?
I took a sport psychology class last semester and it really opened up my eyes into the mental game of sports. If you go to any competition, make sure you take a look at how different people carry themselves. Those who win probably act on a more confident basis. Those who lose are probably lacking confidence.
We are kind of jumping around here, but let's get back to the team's replacement. The only volleyball he has ever played is gym class volleyball. In other words, his volleyball IQ was lacking. However, his athleticism makes up for some of his minimal volleyball IQ. We started playing our first couple of games, and he made a few key errors right in a row. All of a sudden you could see his confidence drop all the way to the ground. He then started to make even more errors. I was starting to get the vibe that this kid is hopeless, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt. We ended up losing our first four games to pretty good teams. During our last two games something changed. Good things started to happen, we started playing as a team, and everyone's confidence went through the roof; especially the replacements. He started being aggressive, he realized he had a team around him who would have his back if he made a mistake, and his play improved significantly.
You see this confidence phenomenon all of the time in Major League Baseball. Hitters get into really big slumps every once in a while, and I really think it is nothing more than a mental thing. They end up getting into tough outs, they start to think that they're doing something wrong, they start chasing bad pitches, and then they dig their own grave. Instead of doing what they do best, they change their approach and make matters worse. Their confidence gets run over by a mac truck, and then they find themselves strolling along a long and bumpy road.
The point is that in anything you do, do it with confidence. If you find yourself in a position where you feel yourself getting into a slump, maybe just go back to the basics. In other words, go back to what made you into the person or athlete that you are today. The way that you carry yourself mentally could possibly be the difference between you coming in first place and you coming in fifth place.
Be mentally strong,