After a bit of a hiatus due to holidays and focusing on other sports (mountain biking yay!) I have spent the last couple of weeks on a bit of a return to ultimate. As I get back into various leagues and training regimes I have been doing some self-assessment (somewhat unknowingly) to gauge my starting point. As a quick rundown, my fitness appears to be pretty good, my skills are a bit rusty but the most striking shortfall I have observed has been in my mental fitness.
To understand what I mean about mental fitness it is worth having a quick read of one of my previous posts, The Good Mistakes.
Despite being early days I have found myself feeling under pressure to perform, straight off the bat. I’ve been pretty hard on myself. My behaviour and attitude on the field has suffered as a result. This is an aspect of my game that I have struggled with for quite a while. It is something that I want to improve upon so I started to break it down in my head to see where I could make improvements.
One helpful realisation is that is important for players to recognise that the game of ultimate is not about an individual. It isn’t about me. A game is about working with your team to achieve some goals.
Inevitably everyone is going to have games where they don’t perform in one way or another. I’ve had some shockers, whereby I can’t catch anything or am consistently putting up wayward throws. During these games I can become so mentally downtrodden that I feel like I should pull myself off the field and go home.
It is in these moments that I need to remember that it isn’t about me. My behaviour is affecting my team and the mood of the game overall. Even more importantly, there’s several ways that I can contribute to my team even if my throws are off or my catching is shocking. In particular:
Contribute with your legs
Everyone can run and there’s huge value in a player who is putting in the hard yards on the field. Maintaining accountability on D and providing options on O is largely achieved by using your legs. Those options don’t necessarily have to involve you receiving the disc. Keeping your opponent out of the cutting lanes is a very important role. Get active and run around. A player doesn’t have to touch the disc to be an asset to the team.
Contribute with your voice
Stop thinking about yourself and get involved in your team mate’s game. Encourage your fellow players and provide support whenever you can. Be active on the sideline and add value with your observations. There’s more specific advice on what you can achieve from the sideline in this post.
In summary, a player who isn’t performing as they would like can prevent themselves from becoming a burden on the team by recognising that there’s simple ways that they can contribute to the game as it progresses. Shifting focus away from the individual and towards the team is a great way to overcome a negative mental state. Providing you can run, and communicate, there’s value with you being in the game.