James Hubbard: Football
As a kid I was fearless. I always looked for the newest obstacle and welcomed anyone who doubted me. This courage helped me to excel in all areas of my life.
With this success came high expectations not only from others but from myself as well. I had gotten used to being good at everything.
Somewhere along the way adversity put a dent in my shield of courage. Instead of welcoming the doubters I began to doubt myself. I was trying so hard to maintain the narrative that I was good at everything. I defined success not only by wins and losses but how other people viewed me.
It. Was. Exhausting.
These unrealistic expectations haunted me during my first year starting as a redshirt freshman. I remember thinking “if I drop one pass in practice they won’t start me”. I demanded perfection from myself.
As it turns out.. I’m not perfect. One drop pass spiraled into two dropped passes. I was putting so much pressure on myself to be perfect and was beating myself up mentally for the tiniest mistakes.
Ultimately this caught up to me. My fear of losing my starting spot came true midway through the season because I was playing timid and was afraid of making mistakes.
After losing playing time I can remember standing on the sidelines thinking to myself “this is exactly what you were afraid of”. But guess what? Turns out “rock bottom” isn’t as scary as I thought.
With nothing to lose I began to play free and stopped allowing fear to control me. I would combat those lies in my mind telling me “I’m not good enough” by reminding myself that my worth isn’t dependent on how well I catch a football. Those loud doubts in my mind soon became silent and I started to enjoy the game again. As the season went on I regained my spot and finished strong and also free.
What voice in your head are you listening to? What are you telling yourself when you make a mistake? If it’s fear or that you’re not good enough, stop that immediately. Your worth is not dependent on how good you are at playing your sport. Combat those lies by reminding yourself of the work you put in and how much you’ve prepared for this moment. When you learn how to play free, no one can stop you.