I came across this via twitter and specifically @ToddDevlin so thanks Todd for the heads up. All I know about Mike Nellis (@96Nellis) is that he’s in his last year at Colonel By SS in Ottawa and is a budding baseball/sports journalist. When I read his article it struck me that this was a young man remembering that there is a reason why we participate in sports in the first place. It’s a very important thing to remember and I thought you said it very well Mike. And you also hit on a point I’ve made several times before on this blog – that fun is actually an integral part of being your best. Thanks for letting me repost it here…
MY MINDSET WHEN PLAYING SPORTS, ITS DRASTIC CHANGE
by Mike Nellis
Sport is a very intriguing animal. It was originally designed as a way for people to stay in shape and have fun, but it has since evolved into something much more – a competitive “game” that is taught with a tone that sets the bar very high for young athletes, in turn having an effect that took its toll on me.
As a kid, I took hockey very seriously. I’d become frustrated and let emotions get the best of me in losing or negative situations – this became apparent to me as a 2nd year Bantam as I started to understand something; that hockey and sports in general are for the point of having fun. The problem with that is while I was aware of my problem, I was unable to do anything to fix the problem on my own.
Once I was in my Minor Midget year, I was contemplating quitting the game at around 1/3rd of the way through the season, because I was no longer having fun on the ice. I was ridiculously hard on myself and found that I was in increasingly worse moods after coming home from the arena.
Something had to be done in order for me to continue with hockey. So after seeing a sports psychologist, I decided to come into my 2nd year of Midget with a different attitude. An attitude that’s less intense – if something negative happens, then so be it. I also dropped down from competitive to house league, which put me playing with a lot more friends that I grew up playing with. All in all, it was a good year that resulted in a trip to the league semis.
This year, my team has played 4 league games, so far going 1-2-1 – although we’re a much better team than our record indicates (cliche, I know). Our one tie came against Russell, a game I played after being on the ice for 5 straight hours of refereeing, with about 9 or 10 blisters on my feet.
Thinking about it, I played the best game that I have in the past 3 to 4 years, and had the most fun playing the game in that 3 or 4 year span as well – to top it off, I scored the game-tying goal with about 4 minutes to go.
With my new attitude, this could be the best year of hockey that I ever play when it comes to attitude and bonding. There is the lingering pressure of being a leader as I am a 3rd-year player on the Gloucester Centre Midget A team, but instead of worrying about it, I’m embracing it and adding it into the balance that makes hockey so fun for me these days.
“I played the best game that I have in the past 3 to 4 years, and had the most fun playing the game in that 3 or 4 year span as well.”
Everyone should have this attitude. Not only for their last few years of hockey like myself, but with every sport they play and every year that they play it. From personal experience I can say that it makes the whole idea of playing sports so much more appealing. The tricky part is adding a competitive element to this attitude and balancing it out.
If I end up coaching a hockey team in the next few years, I’ll let the players know that they have to be enjoying the sport that they play. If they find themselves playing for reasons other than fun or with too much negativity, they need to find an alternative way of thinking. Don’t quit a game that you’ve attached yourself to – or at least don’t quit right away – try to find a way that’ll make you be giddy to hit the field/court/rink.
If more people followed this philosophy, I think that there would be much less of a negative opinion of competitive sport within society.