Saturday, September 14, 2013

Afraid to Lose

We were closing on an undefeated volleyball season. Each match got harder. The opponents weren't getting better, but it was increasingly hard to play the way that got us where we were: smart, aggressive, loose. I remember a reporter talking with me about the team, asking what would keep us from going all the way, why we seemed to be struggling in the last couple of matches.

I didn't hesitate. "We are becoming afraid to lose."

The more we won, the more we became afraid to lose.
And, when you are afraid to lose, you play a different game. 
You hold up on hits, don't take chances, you just keep the ball in play instead of going for the kill.
Which gives the other team a chance, they become the strong ones, and you find yourself always in a defensive posture, digging and diving their hard hit balls instead of making the other team do that.

I watched a classic high school volleyball match recently. Two great teams with a long rivalry.
The match went to five games and it was close to the end.
But, you could see it, you could see it in their eyes.
You could see the favorite team, the one who usually won, become afraid to lose.
They weren't used to losing, but the other team had some good plays and had them down.
The favorites starting playing it safe. They kept the ball in play, but in a way that let the other team set well and hit hard. The favorites played defense instead of hard ball. They were afraid to lose.
They lost.

Fear freezes.
And, creates losers.
It is true in sports, relationships, work, growing. Pretty much everywhere.

We can help our children by teaching them to notice when they are taking a defensive posture. We can help them notice when fear instead of faith is driving their choices.

Noticing the slip into a defensive mindset lets a coach call a time out and tell the team what they are doing, to readjust their mindset and get back to what wins games.

Sometimes we need to help our children by calling a time out. Pulling them back from the busyness of life and pressures of the day and adjust their approach. And, maybe check our's to make sure we aren't the reason they are afraid to take risks and play to win, whatever the situation.

They need our help, our love that is deep enough to do what is best for them and helps them address fears.
"Perfect love casts out fear."

Timeout. Call a timeout. When things aren't moving forward and they are back on their heels. Timeout.

Pray and encourage and understand, so they can move from defense to joy and life, lived with passion and pursuing the win, not afraid of losing.

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