A couple weeks ago, I agreed to sign up for a 3-on-3 ball tournament run by a local basketball clothing brand. I was very excited, not only because it was my first tournament, but because I finally felt confident enough to put out my skills for many to see. Or so I thought.
“What do you mean you don’t want to play anymore? You want to back out?”
I calmly tried to explain my reasons to a sad and disappointed face: the fee for teams went up and we wouldn’t be able to negotiation a lower price.
“And ..and..well, I just don’t feel comfortable. What if I get in the way? You guys need a tall player…I’m not a useful 4 or 5…and..”
One of the biggest challenges I confront while on the court has nothing to do with the physical. Instead, it’s the mental and emotional fears that slow me down most of the time. Fear of failure, of being embarrassed, of really screwing something up.
At the R.A.C., I had phases where I spent much of my time not playing, but watching, because of my fear of court rejection.
“Why aren’t you on the court?” a friend would ask. Meanwhile, my back was up against the wall, feet dangling with clean shoes on. I’d just shrug my shoulders, unable to admit that some days I just didn’t have the energy to stand up to my fear.
I suppose all ballers come up against personal insecurities and there comes a point when you realize if you don’t take care of these fears, you will never progress. This mechanism to protect yourself from failing and making mistakes, in turn, limits your opportunity to learn and improve. It can really stunt your evolution as a player and many of my initial years were about getting over these doubts in my ability.
On Tuesdays, the A Women’s team in my club trains before us. I sometimes arrive a bit early and watch their last chunk of practise. Their runs are more intricate, their passes strong and accurate. All-together it is a faster basketball, more precise, and a notch up from my team. Me and Silvi watched from the side bench and I had a thought: why had I never tried to get on the A-team? Physically I could, although time wise, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to make the commitment. And then it hit me: fear.
The only reason I didn’t at least try-out for the team was because of the overwhelming presence of fear around my heart. I sat in amazement at my own realization, while Silvi turned to me quietly: “They are quite in shape, aren’t they…”
I think I still have a chance to get in on the 3-on-3 tournament and I understand that all I have to do is focus on my game. There will probably always be a little voice, hinting to the negative, but if I raise the volume on the other voices, like the belief in my strengths, I can overcome these fears.