Natural oscilations in playing ability

13 Oct 2011, 8:23PM

It doesn't matter what game you play, be it foos ball, ultimate frisbee, or any competitive endeavour really, it doesn't matter if its a team sport or an individual pursuit (although the team sports introduces a further mix of complexities) but your ability (or your teams ability) to play the game will oscilate between "ups" and "downs". Some times you play well and other times you play poorly or your team just doesn't "gel" well together.

I've thought about this recently, what factors may influence the outcome; sleep, food, prior emotional state, work, injury, tired or recovering muscles. All of this may play a part, but I really think its largely a mental game. So often a game is neck and neck, one team maybe just sneaking ahead of the other, then bamm, it all falls apart and its a landslide. Or you intend to bring your game, and it just doesn't turn up. Nothing works as it usually does.

Its mental man! It shouldn't effect your game as much as it does but it does.

So where do I sit on the leaderboard?

My 5 years foosball practise at Outwide stands me in good steed. I haven't lost any games at Trade me yet (but haven't played the best players yet either). The games should be close but I have nothing to loose, my games are relaxed, the others get stressed trying to beat me and (my conjecture) play slightly worse. So (more with the conjecturing) I believe it should all change once they finally beat me. Hope is given, while I lie dejected, the next game being quite different from those proceeding... We shall see.

Frisbee, its a team sport, our A-grade team lost most empatically, our B-grade team played well together and came second in that grade. The difference(s)? Many and hard to tease apart. Our A-grade team had a different style of play, somewhat good for me (line force) and somewhat bad (movement and passing style) and everyone effected differently on the team. Whereas the B-grade team had people working on the same page, similar playing style, neither better nor worse, but the same. Also its a team sport. Team dynamics comes into play. People can have good days or bad days. Teams can have good days or bad days. Sometimes things work, other times they don't.

Our final game we played a team a little better than us. We played neck and neck for the first 5 or 6 points. A time out was called. After which we scored 1 point to their 10. Our team got flustered, made mistakes and lost cohesion. We weren't used to being under presure and instead of playing our game we played theirs. It was most certainly mental. We shouldn't have won but we should have scored a few extra points.

Rugby. Same thing. Its 60% skill, 20% mental and 20% luck. Of course having skill helps your mental game. If you know you're good, you're more likely to feel good mentally but also if a team starts off beating you it can throw your mental game and you play worse. Look at the All-Blacks vs Australia semi-final, Australia looked nervous, made mistakes and gained some composure by the second half. In contrast NZ looked a lot calmer. Australia should have played a little better than they did. NZ also had the home-crowd advantage, which makes quite a big difference.

Professional sports people need to be trained in composure. If you're loosing, keep playing your game, don't get flustered by people, by the score, by the crowd, you should play the same regardless.

Amateur sports people, same thing, but don't get flustered by work, life, team mates, etc.

Its largely mental man.