Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Emotion and Athletics

  Today I find myself in a curious position.  Anyone who knows anything about me knows that at times during the course of any competative activity I can become alitle volatile.  Ok lets me rephrase that, I can become a down right asshole and a detriment to myself and my team.  While the old saying " there is no I in team" holds true in most cases, that "I" can disrupt the team by being the I himself.  I have done alot of things I sports that i'm not proud of.  I have thrown helmets, bats, gloves, kicked fences, screamed profanity at the top of my lungs. punched lockers or benches, thrown equipment etc. If you name it I have probably done it.  I have been ejected from games, threated to be ejected from leagues, warned, im sure you get the picture.

Now I dont purposly do this to be a dick. I am a highly competative person who just wants to perform and help his team. I tend to get down on myself when I dont, and as it compounds the situations just meltsdown.  This past weekend was yet another time when I lost my cool.  I was having a horrible day, and after making yet another out when it mattered during a softball tournament I lost my cool, said something I shouldnt have to the umpire and was subsequently tossed from the game.  Immediatly I felt like a giant douche, embarrased, and like the biggest idiot on the planet.  There was no call for me to say anything, its not the umpires fault that I poped out to short.  Coach lenny said it best after the game, and he has been saying it all year, when the umpire has a terrible strike zone you have to adjust to him.  I dont blame the umpire for tossing me, I probably deserved it, and I'm sure not only did I embarrase myself, but my team as well.

I really enjoy playing with this team that I am on.  A bunch of great guys that play great softball, and I guess I feel like I have alot of pressure on me to produce.  In reality, while thinking long an hard about how I am going to conduct myself for the remainder of the season, its important to remember that its just a game.  I'm not playing for money, or a job, I am playing because I enjoy the sport.  Its also important to remember that I can only worry about the moment at hand and not what happend last inning or a few moments before.  Its important to find any positive to the situation and use that going forward instead of thinking about what I did wrong. It is ok to feel disappointed in personal performance, no one likes to fail, but what is more is that you dont dwell on that failure.  I have a hard time relaxing when I am not playing well, I feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders and its up to me to make a difference.  I know deep down inside that this isnt true but its hard for me to overcome that part of the game sometimes.

Its not just softball either, I am an avid bowler and sometimes I get even more intense when I have troubles on the lanes. Perhaps even worse is that bowling is more of a mental game then softball.  This side of me often hurts both myself and my team because not being able to control my emotions from frame to frame hurts my score and in turn hurts my overall team score, just as holding onto frustraition from at bat to at bat hurts the batting average.  I am not the greatest athlete in either of these sports, but I play hard to hold my own, I am easily coached and I constantly try to get better.  When anyone works so hard to get better but they regress, isnt it fair for them to get off their rocker sometimes?  I work at getting stronger, faster, better at whatever position I play or whatever lane condiditons I am on, and sometimes we just have bad days and I tend to hold onto those bad days.

Last year I threw a 299 in bowling and ended up with the highest set I have ever bowled, now everytime I hit the first strike it immediatly pops into my head that I have a chance at the 300.  Its been a year and I have trouble letting go of the fact that I threw one bad ball and was one pin from a perfect game.  Deep down inside I wont be happy until I get the 300.  Maybe its the quest for perfection and the beliefe that I am better then I actually am, but Should'nt we all believe that we are better then we are so that we have a goal to strive for.  I guess the right way to understand it is this: Its ok to want to be better and to know you can be better, but you have to have the mind to understand that sometimes you wont be better, in fact sometimes you might be downright awful.  What is important from all of that is that you take the lessons as they are given to you, learn from what you did wrong. Not that you should focus on what you did wrong, focus on  the positives and learn from the mistakes. I have put myself into some embarassing situations and to be honest I havent learned a thing as to self control at least until this weekend. I have a son, who in a few years will be entering into athletic's, what kind of roll model am I to him if I go about screaming and complaining and getting ejected from games. How can I expect to teach him self control when I cannot even control myself.  its good to have a fire for competition but the important thing is to not let that fire rage out of control. Respond with your play not your mouth or attitude, or by makeing excuses as to why you failed.

I am not promising anything, but after this weekend it may have finally clicked. Im 28 years old and I still act like a 12 year old kid on the field and on the lanes. Its time I take the steps necessary to learn to control my emotion for the game.  Keeping the emotion is important but conditioning it is essential.  If I can accomplish this it will only make me that much better for my team and my child. Its going to be a long road with alot of gut checks along the way, but in the end I think it will make life much more enjoyable from a competative stand point and an emotional stand point.  We all like to win, but we have to learn how to lose. I lost the phrase somewhere along the way and its time I take the necessary steps to regain that knowledge. In reality, the most important part of all of this, attitude, anger, emotion, etc. is that we remember deep down inside that its just a game. A game that is played for enjoyment, so relax, have fun and enjoy yourself.  People will notice and respect you more for it. It wont happen overnight, but it wont happen at all if I dont take the steps now to achieve it.  Today, I pledge to take that first step, along with all the stumbles included.