83: Relive the Desire You Have in Your Sport to Crush Your Fears and Frustrations

“The starting point of all achievement is desire.” – Napoleon Hill

Hi, and welcome back to the star player academy show, episode 83.

This is Marilyn Wo, I help serious athletes like you get your mind back in the game.

Today’s episode, we will be exploring on how reliving the desire you have of your sport can quell the frustrations you may have over trying to reach your potential amidst the pain you have either physically or emotionally.

Have you ever wondered how you got to be so serious and committed to your sport? It could be love at first sight, it could be a friend who nudged you to come along or it could be that you were simply bored.

You might have thought of any reason. Truth be told for me, as I delved into my habits of my sport and got busy trying to achieve all the vivacious team goals, the very beginning of how I got there started to fade away. I never really thought about how I got there. Today I’m not talking about the reason you got into your sport, but more of how it led you to just sign up for it.

When I just entered the university, I joined a freshman sports camp and that was when all the sports under this same so called sports club umbrella were being showcased and all freshmen were allowed to just have a shot at everything. It’s like a chance for them to promote themselves and for freshmen to select their favourite one to be in during their time at school.

So during this camp, I’ve tried a couple, or more than just a couple, windsurfing, sailing, dragon boating, what else, some martial arts as well, there was also archery and inline skating. They were so much fun especially when trying them out with friends. Then when the day came to try out Canoe Polo, everyone’s eyes sort of lit up. On one hand, it was such a new thing then. I thought it was a weird sport, but the way it’s played just pique my curiosity.

Everything about canoe polo was interesting enough, but somehow only one thing caught my attention and gnawed at me the whole time before we got to try it. That is, we were told that the boat is not stable, and in the game, the opposing team players were allowed to sort of push you to capsize into the water if you have the ball in your hands. This would mean that you may end up overturned with your body upside down in the water. At that moment, I felt a rush of fear filled right through me. I was thinking, wouldn’t that feel horrible, to be upside down in the water?

I’m sure you’ve had an experience holding your breath in water and trying to do a somersault in water, it really can hurt when water goes right up your nose, and I always hate that feeling, I mean who doesn’t? Although I know I can breathe out while under water to prevent water from rushing up my nose, it’s still a scary thought of capsizing into the water.

But there was no turning back, we were all getting ready, groups are assigned and we were ready to go! Fearsome as I was, all panicky but very excited to play, it was somehow automatic that I gave myself one goal for the game. I didn’t tell myself I had to win for the team. The thought of scoring or even getting the ball near the goal mouth wasn’t even on my mind. My only goal was in fact to be able to move and support my friends and stay completely dry. Not 100% totally dry of course, but this is a positive way to say that my aim was to do anything to not capsize at all.

This goal may have came through because of my ego, pride or just fear, whatever it was, I was so determined to achieve it.

When the game started, I was shivering like it was in winter, and at that moment, many of my friends started to lose balance and fell into the water even when nobody was touching them. Gosh! The boat was really unstable. You should go try it out someday. It has to be unstable because the make of the boat has to balance itself between stability and performance. If it’s made too stable, it would mean the shape of the hull or bottom of the boat would be too wide, which makes it slower than if it was narrower. So there is some physics to it.

So at that moment, it was a scary sight, because one second you see all your friends ready to paddle around and have fun, the next moment you see people started to flip into the water and bail out.

For me, I just hung on there and somehow refused to let go of any balance I’ve tried to master in that strange boat. Lo and behold, when the final whistle blew, yes, I didn’t capsize at all, high and dry, very happy with myself, and left the water accomplished and satisfied.

What am I trying to say here with my little adventure in that boat?

Very simply, I was just playing canoe polo with one goal in mind. That was it, I just wanted to play. I’m sure capsizing and reentering the boat again would have still allowed me to play, but playing this game as a beginner, bailing out and reentering takes up a lot of time, by the time most of my friends entered the water ready to play, the time was already up, there wasn’t much time for them to have fun.

Then there was this time when we were supposed to select our favourite sport, nobody in my group selected canoe polo, only I did. My friends were commenting that they didn’t see the fun in it and that it was so strange sitting in that weird shaky boat, they couldn’t imagine themselves being in there every weekend. They were right, because they kept on capsizing, what fun was that?

But for me, there was this sense of achievement from the moment I managed to steady myself in the boat and started paddling out, be it rocky or not. I may have looked silly and stumbling all over, but I enjoyed it because I was upright long enough to get the feel of the game, it was not only fun for me, but after the game I wanted more.

The point here is, although I felt accomplished to have achieved my goal, it wasn’t just about feeling happy not capsizing. But it was being able to experience, explore and learn enough about the game to develop that deep desire to seek more challenges from that game.

And as I got more contact with the sport week by week, a little spark of desire inside of me slowly builds into a flame, then into a torch, then to the desire of wanting to be of service to those in the sport as well as passionate athletes all over the world.

So how does this little story help you at all.

You see, as time goes by while training intensifies as my team and myself move on deeper into the sport we love, some of us get a little obsessive. When you are in a team sport, a little obsession is normal and very necessary. You can’t be less obsessive because you need that immersion and engagement in what you are doing to compete.

The difference between competition and play has a lot to do with obsession. It’s not just practicing, because if it’s just play, I can also play all day and that’s considered practice. But when it comes to obsession, you are indulging into deliberate practice. This is not something new, you should have been in this state of mind all along, but what I want to bring across to you here and throughout all my episodes is to bring your attention to it so that you are more in tune and mindful about your deliberate practice.

You might ask, what has that got to do with my story of trying to stay high and dry?

If you think about it, based on my story, what I just did there when I started was actually mindful deliberate practice. First, before getting into the water, I repeated to myself a gazillion times these words: “stay balance, high and dry”. Second, went into the water acting out what I’m telling myself to do. And third, I felt accomplished at the end of it and had fun!

You realised that whole process had nothing to do with my rivals in the water. You might think that that’s just crap because my rivals were all beginners and we were all out to have fun. But that’s the key! Aren’t you supposed to have fun even being a competitive athlete? Being serious doesn’t mean not having fun, you can have serious fun all you want, by being purposeful of your actions towards your goals as you practice.

A lot of times, many athletes including myself go for practice sessions just to get by another day of practice, because it’s compulsory or because we know being present helps. Yes, we all have to be there often enough to train ourselves up. But just going through the motion of what needs to be done doesn’t bring to mind the state of what we are and where we want to go.

Then many times, because without understanding this point of view, many athletes skipped all that and turn to looking for results. That just defeated the purpose of being at practice. If you want results, it’s actually quite easy, just lower your standards or lower the level of challenge and I’m sure it’s easier for you to get the results you want.

After all that I’ve said, I must admit, there are times I have also been less mindful about what I was doing, until one day someone asked me a question that is supposed to have an obvious answer, that is “why canoe polo?”

I think this question shouldn’t be posed to anyone doing something new. It could be a question to anyone of you in any sport as well. Thing is, if you have been really engaged in what you have been doing for quite a while now, it’s really hard to answer this question. It was hard for me, not sure about you. But that led me to how I started this adventure, and led me to realise that, I was happy with that simple goal, achieved on day one, and the feeling was just amazing.

Whenever I met with any unforeseen frustrations and negative attacks, I always always look within myself and see myself in that same boat when I first started as a freshman. Then, that happiness just blew me away, at the same time, the lesson of setting my mind at the one goal I want to achieve at that time helped me to get my mind straight with those frustrations at the present moment.

So you may be hurt, be it due to some specific physical injury in your body that led to frustrations and poorer performance than usual, always ask yourself that one question, “how did you get started?”. Once you get to that moment, snap shot that picture in your mind and go through what made you stick to it and how you progressed to the next stage. There were frustrations too, but also fun, what created the fun?

Just do the work by creating this image or a few images first. Get this first step going and you’ll do fine because subsequently, when you meet any roadblocks, which you definitely will, those are the times when you need these images to spring up at the right time to save your moment and quell your anxiety, fears and frustrations.

Always remember, the first step to success is desire. So a desire at the beginning of your time sent you to this moment of frustration, what was it? Bring that in to your life right now and you will discover that dealing with these frustrations are worth it and they will eventually subside!

With that, we have come to the end of today’s episode.

Before you go, I have a quote for you. Here’s one by Napoleon Hill, he said, “The starting point of all achievement is desire.”

Thank you all for joining me today. If you are wondering what you can do to be the best athlete you can ever be, go to StarPlayerAcademy.com, I’ve prepared a cheat sheet that shows you 15 success traits of a serious athlete that you can follow in one glance. So head over to StarPlayerAcademy.com right now, and till tomorrow.

I look forward to see you become a StarPlayer.

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