Between The Bars

Feb. 6, 2005

Every season it seems that we have to redefine 'Playing Not to Lose' vs. 'Playing to Win'.

When you 'Play Not to Lose', your body literally gets paralyzed from fear of failure. The intent and mindset is 'I hope I can do this', versus the mindset of'Playing to Win', which is confident, exhuberant, fun, 'Heck yeah, I can do this ... Bring it on!'

I wish it were as simple as implementing the coaching tactics that I used last year and the other ones I used the year before that ... however, if it were that simple we could all just coach from a book. Each team is so individually different, and the chemistry between these individuals is so different from year to year, it's definitely a challenge to figure out how to unleash our team's potential every new season. It can be frustrating at times, but it is definitely a part of my job I truly enjoy.

Our meet this past weekend was a combination of a lot of things. For the most part, our athletes came out and competed well. However, EVERYONE is not on the same page with regards to whether we are playing to win or not to lose. We are also at the time of year where the athletes test their techinique even when they don't have to ... like Vanden Eykel, who doesn't need to change her technique on her bar dismount. She's hit every bar routine this year. But, in the meet, she thought to take it up just a little bit more, which killed her rotation, and she landed on her bum. I don't classify that as a 'bad fall' - but it's unnecessary. Instead of thinking of changing things, she needs to have confidence in her ability and keep reinforcing how it feels to perform her skills correctly.

Jordan had one of those great blooper moments that aren't funny at the time, but in hindsight make the UCLA historic blooper reel. First of all, kudos to Jordan for being a Warrior. Her toe can't feel good, and yet she came in and competed all four events like she hadn't taken any time off. She is rock-solid and so mentally and emotionally tough. Her blooper moment came on beam when she did her very simple sit on the beam mount and fell over backwards. Flashbacks of Maloney a few years ago when the same thing happened to her (Incidentally, that was the only time Maloney has fallen on beam in her career at UCLA, knock on wood). Jordan was mortified but finished her routine flawlessly. We all know how important it is to see our athletes make mistakes then be able to finish without giving away another tenth.

With regards to illness and injury, Peckett is getting healthy and came in on two events, but Tedmon got another bout of the flu and was pulled from the line-up. Lori came in but unfortunately didn't have the confidence with which she's trained these past few weeks, and Vanden Eykel's back is slowly getting better ... and so on and so on throughout the team. This is what being a part of a TEAM is all about. Getting each other's backs.

With all I've learned these past many years, it really feels like we are turning a corner, shifting into gear, heading into the clear ... whatever metaphor is most appropriate. It's an exciting time of the season because of the metamorphisis our team is slowly taking. They definitely have the talent, heart, the motivation, and the drive, they just need to believe.

Check back in a few days for a more in-depth update from Kristen Maloney.

Also this week, we welcome all questions on our upcoming Q & A directed to me, Maloney, Jordan, or Tasha.

~ miss val



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