Is Your Head Stopping You From Playing to Your Potential?
Staying relaxed under big game pressure is key to playing the way you’re capable of playing.
Becoming a champion on the court requires any athlete to “pay your physical dues.” That is, there is no shortcut to reaching your goals. You have to work hard, build muscle strength, improve your quickness, increase endurance, and hone the techniques required to play at a high level. By making this kind of physical investment and working hard at it, you are moving yourself one step closer to your dreams in this sport. But you can’t just stop there like a lot of volleyball players do. To become a champion, you must also work on the mental side of your game.
Once you walk onto that court for an important try-out, showcase or game, the difference between playing well or poorly lies completely between your ears! When the game is on the line and the competitive pressure is turned up high, playing to your potential is all about how well you can execute mentally. That is, are you able to stay calm and composed under pressure? If you go into a game too nervous, you’ll play tentatively, make a lot of mistakes, and come out bitterly disappointed. Staying relaxed under big-game pressure is one of the secrets to being able to play your game the way you are capable of playing.
Control your concentration and you will more consistently play like a champion.
- Keep your focus on the action, on what you are doing on the court and NOT on your thinking.
- Playing your best means you have to focus on “seeing, reading and reacting.” Seeing the ball and developing play, instinctively reading the situation and reacting without thought.
- Keep your focus in the “NOW” on one play, serve, dig, block at a time.
- Leave your mistakes behind you. Work on them NOT in the game but afterwards, in practice.
- Whenever your focus drifts to the past or ahead to the future, quickly bring yourself back.
- Be prepared to “reset” your focus as many times as you drift.
Do you have the ability to focus on what’s important and let go of everything else? Concentration, when controlled, is the key to performance excellence. However, if you lose control of your focus and concentrate on the wrong things either before or during your game, then you will undermine your confidence, make yourself nervous, and underachieve. Volleyball is too fast a game to play well unless your concentration is in the right place when it counts the most.
Related to this, can you quickly let go of your mistakes and bad breaks and get your head back in the action? Players who get really mad at themselves for screw-ups, who carry around their mistakes during the game (i.e. “You suck!” “I can’t believe you blew that dig!” “How could you have missed that shot?”) end up rapidly losing their confidence and making more mistakes. Champions on the court have the ability to quickly rebound from their mistakes and return their focus back to the action.
As a volleyball player, you must make a commitment to work hard on your mental game as well as your physical one. You’d never leave your conditioning and skill to chance so why leave this critical mental part of your game up in the air? We can help you do that!
As a Sports Performance Consultant, Dr. Alan Goldberg has worked with high school, AAU and college volleyball programs around the country, helping these athletes and teams play their best when it counts the most. Dr. G has spoken at Volleyball camps and coaches’ clinics around the country and is the author of 20 books, including This Is Your Brain On Sports: Beating Blocks, Slumps and Performance Anxiety for Good! Check out his popular Mental Toughness Training Package.
Sara, I have good news for you. We are the champion of the French League 2017/2018. I overcame my problems and I was able to help the team a lot. I am playing well and leading the team again. My confidence is back. You are part of my victory, this medal and trophy is also yours.
I coach high school and your 14 Steps not only helped my team play better under pressure, it significantly helped my 17-year-old daughter, a three-sport athlete. She used to think too much and get too nervous. Now she plays the way she practices, relaxed and aggressively.
I bought your mental toughness program for my daughter who plays volleyball. She would hang onto her mistakes and tend towards the negatives! Her coach says she is now playing positive, strong & confident!
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