Club News

Assist From Sloane: What We Can Control

We don’t always win or play our best- that’s reality.

When this happens, we often look outward as to why we lost or made errors. We place limits on ourselves and the situation about why we can’t do something:

“My coach doesn’t know anything, so why bother?”

“It wasn’t a good set,” you might say after hitting the ball in the net.

If you missed a dig…“The block wasn’t closed.”

Simply put, we make excuses.

Let’s look from a different perspective and ask ourselves to take responsibility, instead of placing blame. Focus on what you can control in any situation. Instead of making an error on a bad set, keep the ball in play. If you see a seam in the block, make an adjustment on defense. If your coach is just filling in for the season, work hard to improve for yourself and your teammates.

There are pieces of volleyball that are not skill-based; these are the things you can control. Your effort, communication, thoughts, positive self-talk (“I can do this!” versus “I don’t want to mess up!”), and being a good teammate are some of those things. You should never lose control of them. You also have the responsibility to control how you react to our teammates, coaches, and those things you can’t control.

For instance, you may not be able to control who your opponent is, but you do have the ability to choose your competitive mindset and effort. You may not be able to control how your unruly teammate acts out and separates the team, but you do have control over how you step up as a leader to bring people together. You may not like that your coach scheduled a 6:00 AM workout, but you can choose to use that opportunity to get better; you have to be there, anyway.

You know that feeling of being down in a match, or having a rough practice, where everything feels off? When something doesn’t go as planned, there are still things you can control.

Imagine if each of your teammates played and acted this way. When each person takes accountability, you are a better team because of it.

How can you change your perspective to work on the things you can control?


Question for Sloane:

“How do you maintain composure on the court during the game when you’re down in points? How did you, as a setter, keep your team calm and get them to focus and work together to allow for a comeback?” ~Aimee

Thanks for the question, Aimee. I truly believe that energy is contagious. We all know those teammates that get frazzled on the court when things go wrong. One-by-one, everyone else becomes frantic, too. On the flip side, I’m sure you’ve seen some energetic and positive motivators, and those who stay cool and collected. As a setter especially, your position allows you to be a leader. Your teammates look to you for the next play and to see if you believe in them. I’ve seen setters toss their hands in the air, as if saying, “Well I have no one to set… everyone is making errors, so what am I going to do?” Like my article this week says, you have control of how you respond to mistakes.

“Fake it ‘til you make it” is very real. If you stay poised, no matter how difficult that may feel, your teammates will slowly re-gain confidence in themselves and play better. I want to encourage you to, in those difficult moments, think of what’s happening right now; not in the past, and not five points from now. Being down in a match feels daunting, but I’ve always focused on the very next play, one at a time. That makes the game more manageable and, quite frankly, do-able. Best of luck!

Do you have a question for Sloane? Players should email her directly, While your identity will remain confidential, your question could be used in a future column.


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