This article is republished with permission. The original article appears at Peak Performance Sports.
How to Perform well on the court in big moments
Your mental game for volleyball is especially important when:
- Your team is the underdog – Facing a powerhouse can be daunting. The mystique of a powerhouse can cause some teams to see the game as a loss even before it starts.
- Your team hasn’t defeated a certain team in quite a few years – When a team seemingly has your number, it can cause a team to play tight or try to do too much.
- Your team is young – When your team is young, they often try to impress the coaching staff and often try to play the “perfect match” which heaps the pressure to perform.
- Your team is trying to come back in the middle of a match – Trailing in a match can take a player out of playing in the moment as they begin to calculate the points they need to make a comeback. Some teams fixated on the score become fearful of making mistakes and are slow to react as the opposing team hits the ball over the net.
- Your team is off to a great start – When your team is off to a great start in a season or takes an early lead in a match, some players start to play it safe instead of following the game plan of attacking with an aggressive style of play.
Any of these circumstances can be perceived as big moments and add to the pressure of a competition.
In actuality, are these moments BIG moments or do some players just heighten the importance of the match?
This is where mindset comes into play.
If your mindset is dominated by how big the moment is, you will likely feel an overwhelming sense of pressure.
If your mindset revolves around playing big or playing your best in the moment, you will be better prepared to play to the level of your capabilities.
The Kansas Jayhawk women’s volleyball team found themselves facing multiple circumstances that would test their mindset.
The Jayhawks were riding a 7-game winning streak into their match against No. 4 Texas, a team they beat only five times in the last 47 meetings.
Kansas got off to the quick start taking the first set of the match in dominating fashion, the first time the Jayhawks won the first set of a match in conference play this season.
Kansas pulled off winning a tough second set 28-26.
Texas fought back and took the third set and was winning by as many as six points in the fourth.
Kansas remained unfazed, stayed focused on the task at hand and completed the upset by winning the fourth set 25-23.
Kansas’ big play mentality helped secure the victory, keeping KU as the only undefeated team in the Big 12.
Kansas senior right-side hitter/setter Gabby Simpson revealed the team’s mindset of just playing in the moment that has helped the team play big consistently.
SIMPSON: “The biggest thing I think has been playing consistently. When things don’t go our way, we have to be able to sit back and be like, ‘It’s okay, this happens, it’s volleyball.’”
Junior outside hitter Jada Burse credits the ability of the young players to step up as a big factor in the team’s success.
BURSE: “We are a young team and been the underdog in the Big 12 so far this year. I think not letting the atmosphere get too big for them was key.”
Don’t allow the moment to get too big by seeing it more than it is… It’s a volleyball game, the same game you have played for years.
If you can keep things in perspective, you can play big no matter the situation.
How to Play Big During Big Moments:
Remember, no matter the circumstances you play in, the court and the game is still the same.
Focus on your strategy for each point instead of the outcome or circumstances of the match.
You can’t control the circumstances, but you can impact the current point!