This season has been a great learning season for Sissy. She has been challenged to play up a level. To constantly play with and against girls that are at her skill level and above. She has learned a lot and worked through some mental obstacles. She had episodes of losing her confidence in her abilities and was playing scared. Afraid to make a mistake. Afraid to have the ball.
I know this feeling. I know it well.
It was really the only feeling I had in sports for a long while. I was a small girl, who developed late and was always shorter than everyone. I played sports because I loved to, but I always knew I wasn't the best or even good. I was average.
When you are average, it can be pretty hard to play with confidence. You know you are not as good as everyone else. You know that they are just looking for you to make a mistake. At least that is how you feel. Maybe everyone else is feeling the same way, but you just feel like everyone is just waiting for you to screw up.
Mentally, you beat yourself down. You begin to question whether you should take that 3-pointer, or shoot that soccer ball for a goal, or serve that ball for an ace.
There are at least two tennis matches that I can remember that I lost simply because I lost my confidence. (I'm sure there were more, but my memory banks can only hold so much information....) I mentally let my mistakes or my opponent's lack of mistakes get in my head and I felt there was no way I could win.
Once you are defeated in your head, it's over. The famous choke factor.
I swear, succeeding in athletics is 50% skill and 50% believing in yourself. The best in athletics are mentally strong in addition to having skills.
Do you remember the first time that you felt that confidence in yourself? I do. I can remember it. I was a senior and she was a sophomore. We were on our school tennis team and the coach ranked us. He put me in the number 1 position and I knew it was because I was a senior and she was younger. She was better and we both knew it.
Of course, she challenged me for my #1 spot. We played a match and it was close. I don't remember if she choked or I played well, but somehow, I won. I thought it was a fluke. She thought it was a fluke. She had had a bad day.
So, of course, when she could, she challenged me again. We played again. I won again. Seriously. I could not believe that I had won twice in a row! It was really the best feeling ever. Like maybe I really did deserve the #1 spot. Honestly, I didn't even care about playing #1 but it sure was nice to have defended it. Twice.
She challenged me another time and beat me that time, but by then I didn't care. Like I said, I never cared about playing #1, but I had found my confidence by those two wins, that it was all worth it. I could play and I could win. Even against players who I thought were better than me. It was a good feeling.
One other time that I felt that confidence in myself was after my first triathlon. I never in a million years had envisioned myself completing a tri, let alone winning my age group! On my first one! I could do it! One of the best feelings ever.
Sissy got that feeling this weekend during one of her games. She had some excellent defensive plays that sparked a change in herself and her teammates and changed the feel and pace of the game. She went from passing the ball away to keeping it and dribbling, making a play or scoring. It was so fun to see that change in her.
If you think you can win, you can win.
If you think you can finish a tri, you can finish!
If you think you can steal the ball and score, you can!
How do you keep your confidence in yourself?
How do you teach that to a kid?