Remember, it’s supposed to be fun

USA, New York State, New York City

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USA, New York State, New York City

As an athlete, the pressure is abundant no matter the circumstances. Whether it may be pressure to reach expectations of perfection or pressure to succeed in a particular performance, no matter what, the pressure is inescapable. The only true way to get away from the pressure of athletics is to remind yourself of the reason you are there: to have fun. 

When I first started playing volleyball, it all started as a way for me to interact with other kids while giving me an opportunity to have fun while staying active; little did I know, I would grow to love the game and continue playing for years to come. As I progressed further with volleyball, every aspect of the game began getting more and more competitive, and out of nowhere, loads of pressure had snuck its way into the game.

I have always had coaches who cared about my athletic performance and who wanted nothing other than for me to succeed. With this being said, the pressure that my coaches have always put on me and the expectations that they had set has always been the push I needed to propel me in my career. The overwhelming amount of pressure that sports have created has never been from my coaches, but rather it has always been self-promoted.

No matter how good of a practice, game, or touch on the ball I had, I never allowed myself to take pride in that. Rather, I would find the slightest mistake to critique and tell myself I needed to do better. If I did exactly what my coaches asked for, I told myself I needed to do more. If I had a perfect play, I told myself it was horrific and I needed to fix it. Time and time again, I have put pressure on myself to exceed these expectations, even though I was already doing what I needed to. In time, I have slowly realized that the abundance of pressure I have put on myself is the sole reason I have turned a game of fun into a chore.

No matter what expectations I exceeded, I still was not at peace with any performance of mine, so I have eventually learned to look past the pressure I have put on myself. In doing so, I began to enjoy playing again and volleyball has become everything it once was.

There is a fine line between being a disciplined athlete who holds oneself to a high standard and one who completely sucks the fun out of the game. For most, seeing this fine line is a complicated thing to do, and many may choose discipline over fun. But for those struggling to find joy in the game, start by dropping the unnecessary pressure you are putting on yourself because although you may not realize it, the pressure you put on yourself is what restrains the joy. Leave the pressure and expectations to your coaches. Remember, this is supposed to be fun.