What I learned this week: How to get out of a rut.
In my typical punctual style here is what I learned week 6.
This week I hit a wall. It’s been six weeks since the beginning of term and I feel like I’ve made no ground on getting to where I want to with my own skills and the team. A series of bad or missed practices, horrible weather, failing connections and increasing agitation have all contributed to the feeling that I’m just no good at ultimate, and probably should concentrate on my sideline for the rest of the season. We’ve all been there – you can’t get any throw right, the decisions you make are poor and the more you try to the worse the results are. This could be an off-day, or off-week, but in my case it was an off-month-and-a-half, or that’s how it felt.
Between games I confided in/complained to a team mate, I told him about how I hadn’t got anything right, wasn’t forging connections with my team mates, didn’t feel strong or confident in my throwing. His response (which I like to believe was honest and not just placatory): “I think you’ve been playing really well.”
When you’re in a rut it’s easy to become your own worst critic and sometimes all you need to get out of it is for somebody to tell you that, actually, you aren’t completely useless. And I don’t mean in a patronising way – clearly if somebody’s having a ‘mare they probably know and don’t need to be lied to, but the simple act of being reminded of what you do well can serve to restore your faith in yourself and evaluate your performance in a different way.
After hearing that simple phrase from a respected team mate it was like a pressure had been lifted. Where I had been trying to prove myself (to myself), resulting in forcing options that weren’t there, or over-analysing my decisions and mistakes, being told I was playing well allowed me to play to my strengths, do what I knew I could do and feel proud of my performance. I was content to do what I always knew I could do, and to do it well. I enjoyed the game that afternoon more than any I had done for months previously.
So next time you’re in a rut go and tell a team mate. We play a team sport, which means not just relying on each other on the field but also helping each other maintain our collective and individual esteem. And remember that encouraging words never go amiss, even if a player looks like they’re playing their normal, high quality game hearing “Good job” from a team mate can only do them good.
See you on the field.