My 16-year-old daughter Olivia plays volleyball year round so suffice it to say that this mom has logged hundreds of hours court-side armchair coaching and frantically cheering. Watching her athletic skills and her competitive spirit grow these last four years has been some of my proudest parenting moments, especially because I could never do what she does.
I was never an athlete. In fact, when in 7th grade, I tried out for the basketball team at my very small school where literally everyone makes the team, it was suggested to me that I play the position of team statistician. Cognizant of my physical limitations, I gladly accepted the role and the t-shirt because at least I was part of the team.
While I know athletes learn a lot of life lessons in their respective sports, I’ve gained a little insight from the sidelines about what it takes to be a part of a winning team:
1) Get strong with practice. While practice doesn’t necessarily make perfect, conditioning your mind and body to be tough is critical to success during the games. Practicing your sport helps you have the stamina you need when you feel mentally defeated and physically exhausted.
2) Give it everything you’ve got. No matter what your skill level, pure drive and determination makes all the difference during a game. I’ve watched Olivia’s team ranked #32 in a regional tournament beat the #8 team out of sheer desire even though their technical skills were outmatched.
3) Learn how to fall. There is no doubt you are going to fall, so learn to fall without hurting yourself. Well, maybe some bruises that cover the hips and legs of volleyball players, but they literally do drills on learning on how fall and roll without serious injury.
4) Get up with speed. Once you fall, you have to put aside the pain and embarrassment and get back on your feet immediately. If you don’t get up fast on a court, you could get stepped on or miss an opportunity to make a game-saving play.
5) Trust your teammates. The volleyball court is 900 square feet so there is no way a single player can cover the entire area. Don’t be a ball hog, just trust that your teammate will do her best to do her part and you get the same trust in return.
6) Celebrate the wins. There is no better feeling than winning, especially the tough games. While there’s a lot of life lessons in losing, it’s okay to celebrate the winning moments. Do it with grace and style and soak it all in – you deserve it.
While I was never an athlete and at this point never will be, my hours of intently observing my daughter and her teams has taught me a lot about what it takes to be a contributing member of a winning team. My skills just happen to be far away from a volleyball net, and closer to the internet.