Okay, after the heady heights of my birthday it was back down to earth with a bang. I played pretty well (compared to my usual low standard) last week in a 6-a-side league football match where I was filling in for some injured players. You may recall my unbiased account where I compared myself to the comic strip character Roy of the Rovers [note to the reader – my tongue was firmly in my cheek]. So it was with some trepidation on my part that I turned out again last night (those injuries seem to be continuing for the team).
First of all, it was only the second-top team we were playing. Secondly, I was feeling pretty good. Relaxed, loose and ready to have a good game. Once again my job was to score goals and I was confident. In point of fact I felt pretty much the same way I felt the week before. But instead of stealing the show, I had a pretty lousy game (even by my low standards). I didn’t get much time on the ball thanks to some good marking but I had enough time to rattle off a few shots – not a single one on target. I kept getting the ball with my back to goal but just wasn’t on the same wavelength as the rest of the team and therefore my pass completion rate wasn’t too hot. We lost 3-1 and I walked off the pitch somewhat perplexed. What had gone wrong? My mind was clear and I knew what I wanted to do with the ball, but when it came to taking shots, it just didn’t happen. I wasn’t tired or tight and my feet felt pretty quick.
I get this sort of thing a lot. When I play tennis, I can play fairly well. I usually get a handful of aces each game and I can even win the odd match. But the same thing happens more often than not. I’ll get to 5-3 serving for the match and the following thought will enter my head: “you’ve got this one in the bag John, just serve the game out and you’ve won”. Just a single though. And that’s it. I’ll throw the match and perform what has often been termed the “Conners Crumble”. Every time.
The way I see it I’ve got two problems. Consistency and concentration. And no matter how much I self-analyse, no matter how positively I try to think, no matter how much I clear my mind and focus on what I’m supposed to be doing, either one or both of them will afflict me at some point. Of course, you might argue that my inconsistency is caused by my lack of concentration but I can easily be inconsistent with full and total concentration – like last night.
I am of course my own worst critic. I can see every mistake I make and know exactly what was going through my head at the time. Plus I’ve got a good memory which means I can replay those mistakes over and over again in my head. Like I’m doing now. But I don’t get negative about it, I just try to learn from it so that it won’t happen again (fat chance). Should I get a game again I’ll alter my tactics slightly (my positioning wasn’t right, with hindsight) and hope I’m firing on all cylinders. Anyway, I’ll finish with a few clichés that are going through my mind at the moment and seem rather apt:
- You’re only as good as your last game.
- You’re only in competition with yourself.
- Pressure is always self-inflicted.
- Pride comes before a fall.
- Stay out of the black and in the red, nothing in this game for two in a bed.
Before you ask, the last one is from a classic 80’s British quiz show based around the game of darts called Bullseye and has absolutely nothing to do with anything. But I’ve always liked the sound of it!