I write from my sunbathed hotel room as the Sputnik sun sets late this Wednesday evening. Today was qualification Wednesday for the FIVB World Tour and I unfortunately am reporting a close but devastating loss to Latvia in the first round. Devastating in the fact that it is a team we should have beaten and I am so frustrated with the result.
The team consisted of one of the Olympic Latvian athletes and his new partner "Krelis" a nick name in Latvian for lefty who I have played against for a few years and never lost to. Together they were very beatable team and one I was pleased to be playing in the first round. Should we have played an aggressive and error limited game like I have been aspiring to play, we would have won handily. However, I didn't show up to play world class ball and physically it didn't come together.
I could use plenty of excuses but a loss is a loss and I definitely let myself and Ahren down. We had a chance to close out the first set at 20-19 and I rolled line on a defensive transition (classic tentative move) and the second we were leading handily until they scrapped back to 18-17 and won 23-21. A game I would rather forget but in forgetting I won't learn the lessons I need to take away from this event. Ahren nailed it in our post game chat that "we were playing not to lose".
I have been attempting to go deeper into the mental side of the game and have been listening to some sports psychology stuff on commitment and stepping up but upon the first attempt to put it into practice, it didn't kick in. I also hurt my foot last week and tried not to think anything of it. Unfortunately, it did affect me and is still affecting me to this date. After our close game in the Gstaad Grand Slam qualification where I hurt it, we had a small hit before leaving Switzerland and didn't have competitive training until the day before our competition in Russia. This really didn't allow us to come together post loss and work on solidifying our connection on sideout and confidence as a team. Our plan of giving my foot some time backfired and unfortunately due to an unfortunate error by a Russian coach, our training court the day before our game was switched and we had to train with 4 teams on a court which really wasn't what we needed. It was out of our control but stepping up to play on game day was fully in our control and it didn't happen.
By divine design, I grabbed a book called "Failing Forward" by John C. Maxwell as I left my house for this trip and it is coming in quite handing during this testing period. A great friend and past coach Paul Mend dropped me a line saying he is eagerly waiting for our breakthrough game and my patience and commitment is certainly being tested as we strive to gel as a team mid season and compete for a big win! Thanks Paul for your kind words and it couldn't fit better with "Failing Forward" which affirms failure and more importantly learning from the experience as a crucial part of life's journey to personal success. Here are a few of my favorites; I hope they stoke your inner flame or just give you the boost you need to overcome a challenge you are currently dealing with!
"To achieve your dreams, you must embrace adversity and make failure a regular part of your life. If you are not failing, you're probably not really moving forward."
"Achievers are able to keep moving forward no matter what happens. And that's made possible because they remember that failure does not make them failures. No one should take mistakes personally. That's the key to bouncing back."
Off to Marseille for the mistral winds and arid climate of southern France!