Our league had tryouts for our Dairyland Dolls travel team over the weekend. I could only make one of the nights out of two, and it came after an incredibly long, taxing weekend of work/activity, not-ideal nutrition, and very little sleep. I knew the practice was going to be a challenge.
Halfway into the initial, incredibly grueling drills I felt myself getting light headed and a little dizzy. I was chugging water with some added electrolyte tabs, trying to take little breaks where I could, putting my head between my legs - determined not to sit anything out if at all possible, but also not wanting to push so hard that it would be dangerous for myself or others.
That’s a super difficult balance to achieve sometimes, especially when you’re doing something you love and feeling the pressure to perform.
In the end, for whatever miraculous reason, I didn’t pass out and actually managed to feel really good during the scrimmage portion of the tryout - kept my legs under me, mostly kept my arms down while jamming, had good footwork, made good decisions, got lead every time I went out, and volunteered to go out and jam even when we were all exhausted and dripping sweat. I got to work with great people who made it all a lot easier, too.
If you want to step it up to the next level, after all, you have to push yourself. Even if I don’t make the Charter team, I was pleased as punch to note that my baseline and recovery time have all improved drastically over time.
Here’s the key factor, I think, that helped me Not Totally Suck in this instance: I went into it knowing I wasn’t going to be at 100%, and that I would be struggling physically. The only thing I really had control over, then, was how I approached it mentally: would I focus on how I could help my team, being positive, and working hard? Or would I engage in defeatist self-talk, look inward, and get angry at myself for sucking air.
When you’re trying to prove that you can still play a good game even at the end of a long tournament weekend, when your body is smoked and everything hurts–well, here’s that chance.
We’re not always going to feel our very best when game time comes around. The trick is to learn how to both listen to what your body needs to support it (which can sometimes mean sitting out entirely), and to develop mental tools for staying positive, digging deeper than you did last time, and focusing on how you can be there for your team despite whatever shittiness you’re personally experiencing at the time. You’ll feel better and perform better, and the people around you will benefit from it as well.
If you can pull it out and play at all well when you’re feeling 50%, imagine what you can and should be able to do at 100%.
This is pretty good strategy for life in general.
Embrace the Suck.