What is your mental game? If I asked this question in a classroom, I believe I would get some good answers, one hopefully from you. Some athletes, especially young athletes, choose to ignore their mental game. And that might work for a while, but if you want to be the best volleyball player you can, there will be many ups and many downs throughout your career, and the best players are the ones that refuse to give up, mentally or physically.
After an Error - Always Forgive Yourself
At some point you probably noticed that you have two voices, I will call them your inner voice and your outer voice. The inner voice is the one that only you can hear and it often gives play by play opinions on everything you do. The outer voice is the one you share with others aka talking. As you have probably noticed, these voices can be saying two different things at the same time and that’s not always a good thing.
After you make a bad [pass, hit, block, set, serve, insert chosen volleyball skill here], that’s when the inner voice likes to pipe in and question, “how could you make such a stupid error? Now you’re going to make another one.” So while your outer voice is acting like it’s no big deal saying, “here we go, next play.” You haven’t let that one error go. Forgive yourself for not being a perfect player, volleyball is not a game of perfection, it is a game of runs. So, if you are looking to become a great player, remember that you will make errors, but don’t expect one error to become two, instead expect yourself to make a better play than you did last time because you learn from every contact of the ball.
Benched - Don’t Take It Personally
You know what is really fun? Getting benched. Of course I’m completely kidding because that is the opposite of fun, but it does happen and depending on your relationship with the coach, it might feel like a personal attack. But let’s be real, you are not that important. And I mean that in the nicest way because it is something you need to understand. It is not personal.
One way I’ve found to help me through these tough times is to separate myself from my skill. I am passing badly, but I am not a bad passer, make sense? I am being benched because I am not playing well, not because I’m a terrible player. Now you are sitting on the bench, that does not mean the game is over so you need to figure out what you can do to turn your day around. My favorite way is by running through my highlight reel, which is quite literally the times on a volleyball court that everything clicked. How did it feel? What were you thinking about? How did you move through the play? Remember as much as you can, so that if you get another shot on the court, you will be mentally ready to kick some butt.
Practice - Learn your Athlete Type
If I asked you what your strengths are as an athlete, you would probably answer with things like athleticism, work ethic, footwork and will to win, but what about things like admits fault or faces reality and expects the same of others, how do you learn about those characteristics? My friends, this is where your athlete type can uncover some important mental factors that you carry with you onto the volleyball court. I did not learn that I am an Ice athlete type until after the conclusion of my career, but now that I do know, a lot of things about my play style make more sense. Like how I’m not particularly good at times where there is spontaneous improvisation and I use failure as motivation to persevere. I gained this knowledge by taking the Troutwine Athletic Profile (TAP) survey and if you have the opportunity, I suggest you too take this survey, it takes approximately 20-25 minutes but will outline the strength and weaknesses you have and ways you can improve them.
Of course the goal is to improve, because information is not a useful tool unless it is used. As a member of Silver State Volleyball Club, you will have access not only to the TAP survey but also the mental gym. This gym is available online and gives you an opportunity to improve areas where can mentally improve and learn other tricks including power posing and mental preparation before competition. Your volleyball skill might get you to the point of being a great player, but it is much easier to remain great if you have the mental toughness to preserve through adversity. Gain access to the TAP and mental gym today by registering for SSVC tryouts.
P.S. Register before November 1st and save $20