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Assist From Sloane: Why You Play

 

[Editor’s note: Sloane Green, a former high school and collegiate player and current coach, has agreed to write articles for Prep, at least monthly, geared specifically toward the player. You’ll find she has a lot to wisdom to impart. Any players having questions for Sloane can email her directly at sgreen@prepvolleyball.com. While your identity will remain confidential, your question could be used in a future column]

Many of you have recently finished your high school volleyball seasons and are thankful for a break before club begins. You’re tired, maybe you’re frustrated, and excited for club… because club will be different. You need this time to refresh.

If you’re still playing, you’re likely in it and vying to play in the state championship match. You see the results of your hard work, and are motivated and fueled by excitement, which will carry you into the club season.

Wherever you are in your season and experiences, we all know the feeling of burnout. It’s the feeling that you just want it to be over and take a break. Your teammates and coaches are getting on your nerves, you have to convince yourself to go practice, and you’re asking the ultimate question; the sure-fire sign that you’re burned out: “Why am I doing this?”

I remember this place called “the grind.” No one likes the grind, but you shouldn’t hate it, either. You’ve known it before, and you will surely know the grind again, whether you continue to play volleyball or not. It doesn’t stop in club, college, or when you’re an adult professional.

During those times in the deepest part of the grind, when you’re faced with sort of an internal fork in the road, to either stop or continue, and when you’re questioning everything, you must remember why you’ve started at all.

If you’re like me, you probably started playing volleyball because your siblings, best friends, or other family members played.

When my two older sisters learned to play, I tagged along and played by myself against the wall. The only way they would let me play with them at home was if I chased the ball down the street when someone mis-hit it. I gladly agreed. I wanted to improve so my sisters would include me as a teammate, and not a ball girl. This was my motivation to play volleyball… at least, at first.

Whatever your reason was for picking up a volleyball, I’m fairly certain your reasons for continuing to practice and compete have changed over the years.

Some people might say you have to have passion, and maybe that’s the same thing as your “why.” As you suit up day after day, you must remember why you care, even when it’s difficult, and especially when things don’t seem to go your way.

Personally, I have always loved a challenge. I was the youngest and had to fight for everything. When I achieved what I wanted, I wanted to master something else. I played college volleyball after taking five years off. That’s right, I didn’t even touch a volleyball. I heard people say, “You won’t make it,” and I went to work. I wanted to be the best, and my complete stubbornness helped me do that. Competing was fun for me, win or lose; that’s why I continued.

Even today, I have little athletic goals, but when I step into a college weight room, my mind goes into “train for a national championship” mode… which leaves me sore and slightly crazy.

I see so many athletes playing club volleyball so they can get a college scholarship. Once they are in college, their motivation goes out the window because they’ve achieved their “why.” Now it’s clouded under the fourth months of 6 AM weights, on top of watching film, studying for opponents, traveling, and keeping up with classes.

Your “why” cannot be taken away by anyone else, but it also cannot be given to you. It comes from inside. When you’re in the midst of the grind, you must remember why you started, why you will continue, and use it as fuel to get out the other side.

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