Playing with Do’s vs. Playing with Don’ts

The finals in the Women’s Volleyball World Championships were just a few weeks ago. Italy and Serbia were playing each other so a few of my friends and I got together to watch. It was a good game. Both teams fought incredibly hard and played really well. What was most beautiful for me to watch though wasn’t the game itself, but how it was being played. The athletes on both teams were playing so free. They were swinging with confidence and strength. Not with a fear of being blocked or hitting the ball out of bounds or making a mistake. They were playing uninhibited. Free.

Watching that, I thought back to the last time that I had played like that, the last time I had truly played free. I had to sift a few years back and came to the conclusion that the last time I played an entire season like that was my 16’s year of Club at Colorado Juniors. That was the last time I had played without stress or worry. I was just playing the game to play the game.

Now, I’m not saying that I didn’t play ok volleyball from 16’s on. But what it comes down to is, at a certain point it’s impossible for play like that to happen. Eventually when you play at higher level, there’s a need for active engagement that by nature comes with some worry/stress. When you know you have to be ready in this rotation for “X” or when you see that this team is blocking “Y”, you have to worry about things in order to be successful. That being said it’s the way you worry about them that’s key.

You can do so in one of two ways.

One, you can look at the things you need to worry about and say, “I can’t hit into the block” or “I don’t want to serve out” or “What if I hurt myself again?” But, that causes you to dwell on the issue. When you think like that you actively bring negativity to mind and that’s all you can think about. When you think in negatives, your psyche, your physical body, the way you play becomes negatives. Your brain is now filled with can’ts, nopes, fears, worries, stressors, don’ts, pain, and mistakes. It’s no longer, “Let’s do this!” It’s, “Dear god don’t let me mess up.”

BUTTTTTTT (and this is a big butt) When you can shift your mind to thinking with power, that’s where greatness lies. Now, I’m not just talking about thinking with the opposite of negatives, i.e. thinking with positives. No, no I mean thinking with POWER. Where you are so confident there’s no room for those negatives. Where you know you’ve done everything you can to prepare so there’s no chance you’ll do it wrong. Where the idea of can’t or don’t doesn’t even make sense. Here you play with the beauty of true confidence. Here there is freedom.

When you use phrases like: “I’m going to hit the CONFETTI* out of this ball.” Or “I’m gonna blow her DERRIERE* up on this serve” or “Hit right at me!” you play freer (freer? more free? The freest?) and then before you know it there’s no need to be thinking in the first place. Because once you get out of the need to think at all, beyond that it’s just play. That’s what we’re all striving for. That’s what we really want. That sweet spot in the game where it’s just play. So, make it easier on yourself and start your games with power. Play with more than just positives. Play with more than just confidence. Play with the thought that you are Samuel L. Jackson from the incredible 1990’s classic film Pulp Fiction. Then, finally, just play.

^^^This applies to all aspects of life as well.
Don’t limit yourself with negatives.
Find ways to bring power into your thoughts on the daily and see how it can positively impact your everyday life.


* Please note that some words have been altered for the viewership of the younger reader and also my grandma.


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