Overcoming Pressure to Preform in Games
Have you ever missed a crucial serve?
Like one of the “deadly sins” of serving?
A first point, a game point, after a time-out, after a teammate misses their serve?
Serving under pressure, especially in a position like game point, can be extremely difficult for volleyball players.
You might feel like the spotlight is on you and everyone is watching each move you make.
Also, the intensity of the serving situation could be going through your mind: “If I miss this serve, we lose. Don’t miss.”
You don’t want to let your team down in a moment like this, so you keep thinking, “Just don’t miss.”
I remember a specific game in college where this was my mentality… and I missed the game point serve.
I was a sophomore and we were playing our cross-town rivals, in our house.
We beat them earlier in the season at their gym, so they were out for revenge.
We were in the fifth set and the score was 14-13, them. It was my serve and I knew if I missed or we lost that point we’d lose the game.
I kept thinking, “Don’t miss, don’t mess up, don’t lose this,” over and over.
What do you think happened?
Absolutely. I missed. Right into the middle of the net.
I felt so badly after, especially as I saw the immediate cheering and yelling across the net.
It was such a simple serve. All I needed to do was get it up and over, serve it anywhere on the 30×30 foot court.
I can serve the ball over with my eyes closed, so there was nothing I really needed to focus on. I just needed to serve.
However, I did quite the opposite.
I talked myself right out of success in that pressure-packed situation.
I always tell people, “You can talk yourself into victory or defeat,” just as I did.
Instead of stepping to the service line and thinking about what you want to avoid, or don’t want to happen; think about what you WANT to do.
You WANT to serve in, so have that focus.
Think to yourself, “Serve in, up and over, serve in.”
Serving a game point or serving in general can be stressful for volleyball players.
Rather than thinking negatively or about “not missing,” think about and see yourself “making it.”
The way you think can drastically influence what you do on the court.
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- How to use your mind as an asset instead of a hindrance during serve receive.
- A critical mental error that can undermine your on-court performance!
- How to mentally prepare to perform well during serve receive.
- How to focus your mind and trust your skills using an pre-serve routine.
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Dr. Megan Melchiorre is the newest member of the Peak Performance Team as the lead mental game coach specializing in volleyball. She competed collegiality in volleyball and coaches club volleyball teams.