I had an amazing coach when I played Junior Olympic volleyball in high school. She taught me a lot, but one of the things I still use every time I play has nothing to do with volleyball skills at all. It’s about attitude.
The basic rule is, if you don’t want it to happen, don’t say it out loud. So when you’re talking to your teammates or to yourself (yes, we can hear you) don’t talk about what you don’t want to happen, only say things that you do want to happen.
Example: Instead of saying, “Don’t let them back in the game” say, “Keep playing hard and fighting for every point.” Or rather than saying, “Don’t leave the line shot open like that” say, “Be sure you cover the line shot next time that hitter goes up.”
By vocalizing a potentially negative outcome you are putting that possibility into your mind and the minds of your teammates. Then everyone is fixated on the thing that they don’t want to do (messing up) instead of what they should be focusing on (playing their best). The easiest way to remember this rule of thumb is simply to eliminate the word “don’t” from your on-court vocabulary. Keep it positive, and unless you want it to happen, don’t say it out loud.
I hope it goes without saying that you should never yell at your teammates in a negative way, but given some of my own recent experiences I’ll go ahead and say it: don’t scream at your teammates. When you let your negativity get to this point you become your opponent’s best player. Take a deep breath, count to 10, sing a little song — do whatever it takes not to let your frustration manifest itself in a bout of shouting
In the spirit of positivity, here are a few motivational quotes that might help to keep your mind in a positive place during your next game:
“Never quit. It is the easiest cop-out in the world. Set a goal and don’t quit until you attain it. When you do attain it, set another goal, and don’t quit until you reach it. Never quit.” — Bear Bryant
“The winners in life think constantly in terms of I can, I will, and I am. Losers, on the other hand, concentrate their waking thoughts on what they should have or would have done, or what they can’t do.” –- Dennis Waitley
“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” — Thomas Jefferson
“The thing always happens that you really believe in; and the belief in a thing makes it happen.” — Frank Lloyd Wright