There are moments during the game when we lose our heads. We get so caught up in what’s going wrong or what the score is that we don’t concentrate on acting as a team. This is usually when the coach will call for a timeout, bring everyone in for a huddle, and give a short pep talk to help everyone refocus. But sometimes it isn’t the team losing focus. Sometimes, it’s just you.
Last Saturday, was another home team double header here in Houston. My team, the Psych Ward Sirens, went against the Bayou City Bosses. The Bosses are a fantastic team with some hard hitters and wily jammers, but I feel like the Sirens are pretty even match.
We were winning. I should have been happy, but all I could think about was everything I was doing wrong. Every trip. Every missed hit.
Usually, the track is my place of Zen. I am completely focused and no one can shake it. Since I didn’t want my crappy thought process to spread to the other players, I scooted over to the end of the bench, closed my eyes, shut out everything around me, and repeated my mantra. I repeated it slowly, focusing on every word and every syllable. The tension and worry started to melt away. My focus returned.
My mantra is something terribly nerdy. “I am a leaf on the wind. Watch how I soar.” If you caught the reference, good for you. If you didn’t, it’s a line from Joss Whedon’s “Serenity.” (I told you it was nerdy.)
This is my go-to mantra for anything that scares me. (Tall bridges, social situations, unhappy customers, etc.) While it may seem silly, it works for me. It gets my mind off of whatever big baddie I’m facing and helps me find the inner stillness that allows me to concentrate.
Should you use my mantra? I don’t know. Maybe you have to get angry at the situation in order to focus. Maybe you just need a smile or a high five from a teammate. Or maybe you need to find your own equally nerdy mantra.
Coaches are pretty good at noticing the mood of a team, but they can miss the mood of an individual player. If you’re that player, start experimenting with different ways to find your focus at practice. By the time you get to the bout and the lights come on and the crowd begins to cheer, you’ll know what you need to do to achieve your Derby Zen.